The street where you live (8) - Sebert Road

Thursday, 16 February 2017

This is the eighth in an occasional series of articles by local historian, Peter Williams, who specialises in Newham housing, maps and local history. In each he looks, in detail, at the history of particular streets in Forest Gate.

Peter has complemented his own knowledge by accessing the increasingly digitised national newspapers' collection - which can be found here - and has added extracts from this that refer specifically to the roads he features. 

Looking east about 1908
 from junction of Avenue Road

Sebert Road early 2017 looking west – a wintry
 scene the tower of the massive former congregational
 church  contrasted with the Manhattan Loft
 Corporation under construction in Stratford
and recently in the news for spoiling
 views from Richmond Park.
The origin of the name 

It may be the only such road name in the UK. Sæberht, Saberht or Sæbert (d. c. 616) was a King of Essex (r. c. 604 – c. 616), in succession of his father King Sledd. He is known as the first East Saxon king to have been converted to Christianity.

1863 Ordnance Survey map, published 1873 (here)

Hamfrith estate 

In 1787 Hamfrith Farm, the site today of the Godwin and Sebert Roads and of Manor Park Cemetery, belonged to John Greenhill, whose home was Hamfrith House. This was built about 1800 and demolished in 1891; it was known from the 1860's as West Ham Hall (see below), now the site of Woodgrange School in Sebert Road.

The land was sold in 1851 to Samuel Gurney, d. 1856 (see here), brother of Elizabeth Fry the prison reformer (see here). In 1872 his grandson John Gurney sold much of Hamfrith to the British Land Company who two years later sold it to the Manor Park Cemetery Company.

In 1877 a house in Sebert Road was 
constructed for just over £400 (here).

The Cemetery was established in 1874 (see here). Initially opened purely as a cemetery, the original chapels, lodge and main entrance were built in 1877.

Only the tower of the chapel survived when it was hit by enemy action on 23 July 1944 (see here). The rebuilt chapels, incorporating crematorium facilities, were opened on 2 November 1955.

Manor Park Cemetery has full records from 1875. The first internment being one William Nesbitt who was buried on the 25 March 1875. His grave can still be seen on the right hand side of Remembrance Road.

Manor Park has the honour of having the youngest recipient of the Victoria Cross buried in the grounds. John Travers Cornwell VC (see here for a Pathe news clip of his funeral) was only 16 when he died of wounds received at the Battle of Jutland.

The memorial to Mary Orchard who died in 1906 was erected in grateful memory by some of Princess Alice's children whom Mary served for forty years (see here). These were Victoria, Princess Louis of Battenburg, Elizabeth, Grand Duchess Sergius of Russia: Irene, Princess Henry of Prussia, Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse, Alix, Empress of Russia.

Ordnance Survey 1898 (see here)
The area, in the map above, has now been almost fully developed but the cemetery is very prominent. The cemetery company originally wanted to use the whole area between Forest Gate station and Manor Park station for burial, but this was turned down by the West Ham vestry (effectively the local government body) and a compromise reached where they would develop about half the area for housing.

Institutional buildings on Sebert Road

West Ham Hall

In about 1890 this was acquired by the Tottenham and Forest Gate Junction Railway (see here), which was then building its line from Wanstead Park to Woodgrange Park. The company put it up for sale, together with other surplus land, and the house was acquired by West Ham School Board.

The Board later demolished the house, sometime after 1893. In 1966 the site was a depot belonging to Newham Council. It was then used to build the Woodgrange Primary school in 1986.

The wall of the old house survived at the front of the school until a redevelopment a few years ago. The coach house survives in Cranmer Road and is now a small workshop. The now demolished school house was Forest Gate Boys club in the 1950's.

Jireh Chapel , 133 and 244 Sebert Road

This is right next to the entrance to the cemetery but is nothing to do with it.

Jireh chapel, Sebert Road, originated in 1888, when Mr. Allen began to hold meetings in a small building attached to Jireh Lodge, no.133 Sebert Road (see below).

In 1921 the more recent one was built at no. 244 with materials from a chapel demolished at Woburn Sands (Bedfordshire); the membership was then about 20. In 1965 Jireh had a membership of a not very sustainable 2.

We don't know a great deal about the origins of this chapel, but Jireh Chapels elsewhere in England are Calavanist/Presbyterian places of worship.

244 Sebert became a refugee housing project till a few years ago.

The original Jireh Lodge (no 133) was sold after 1921 and later was used for a time by the Seventh Day Adventists. In 1965 it was occupied by a builder. 

It was destroyed in an early morning fire on 1 September 2010 – the extended family living there were cooking using a gas cylinder which malfunctioned. 

The wreck has remained like this ever since.
 The remnants of the old chapel can
 be seen protruding above the hoardings,
 on the left of the photo.
Here is the official London Fire Brigade account: 
Four fire engines and around 20 firefighters fought a fire in a two storey terraced house on Sebert Road in Forest Gate, yesterday morning.
Most of the ground floor, the first floor and a roof was damaged by fire. Around five people left the building before the Brigade arrived. A gas cylinder was found in the property and a temporary hazard zone was set up around the affected area as a precaution as some cylinders can explode when exposed to heat. Around 125 people were evacuated from the affected area as a precaution.
The Brigade was called at 07.25 and the fire was under control by 09.48. Firefighters from Leytonstone and Stratford stations were at the scene. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Fortunately nobody was seriously injured. In 2012 there was a planning application: “Demolition of fire damaged property and erection of three storey building with basement comprising 4 x 3 bedroom maisonettes with amenity space for each to the rear and parking to the front for each flat.” 

This was refused but then the following one was approved in 2013 “Demolition of fire damaged property and erection of 2 x 6 bedroom dwelling houses with amenity space.”  This has never been built.

A large London Fire Brigade aerial ladder platform
 capable of reaching 32m. makes its way carefully
 along Sebert Road outside Woodgrange infants
 school on 1 September 2010, to attend the above
 incident and deal with the fire in the roof timbers.

Congregational Church

See here for a history of this church, perhaps
 the most significant building on Sebert Road

A collection book from the late 1890s
 to get donations from local residents
 to pay off the debt on the new church.
 For more on this church see here 

Individual houses on Sebert Road

The house, above, looks like a terraced house, in fact, it is detached. If you look very carefully there are gaps on both sides. Notice the chimney breast.  It is not clear why houses were built like this but there are several in Sebert Road. It must have been a considerable building feat to construct the second house - as its outside wall would have had to have been built from the inside.

234 Sebert Road

An advert from the 1890s placed by the
Tottenham and Forest Gate Railway selling
 off dwellings surplus to their requirements.
 This was after they completed construction
of the overhead railway.
234 Sebert Road today backing 
on to the Barking Gospel Oak line

The Tottenham and Forest Gate Railway, built on a huge brick viaduct despite substantial local opposition, opened on 9 July, 1894. It was a joint project between the Midland Railway and the London,Tilbury and Southend Railway, the Midland contributing by far the bulk of the capital.

Some houses were left extraordinarily close
 to the viaduct like this example in Sebert
 Road. Building of the line provoked controversy
 and protests.

The line left the Midland and Great Eastern joint line at South Tottenham and ran via Walthamstow and Leyton to Barking. It joined the Forest Gate to Barking line at Woodgrange Park. The railway (which is now part of the London Overground Barking to Gospel Oak line) provided connections into Moorgate and St. Pancras and confirmed Forest Gate as a haven for City workers.

The junction with Woodgrange Road

Sebert Road at the junction of Woodgrange
Road (on top of the current dentist).
This sign “Market Place” is clearly original
and about to be restored by Newham
Council. It is not clear why this wording
was here, as contemporaneous photos
show no sign of a market on the site.
About 5 years ago a community market was initiated by Forest Gate Women’s Institute. For more on this market (see here).

Forest Gate fire station Sebert Road,(see here)
6 Sebert: In 1915 was Joseph Borheim's
 furriers, who were victims of anti-German
 riots in the area, following the sinking
 of the Luscitania on 7 May 1915. See

Picture showing on the extreme  right 
Coffee7 (no 10)when a florist 1900's. 
The same view today

14 Sebert: John Bassett had a music
 studio there in the 1970's - 80's, and
 it was there that Depeche Mode
 did their first recordings. See 
16 Sebert: 1896 a bootmaker and repairer

1 Sebert Road

 At the turn of the nineteenth/twentieth centuries Forest Gate was a cycle manufacturing locality of some significance (see here and here). One of the more prominent local manufacturers was J Elston, whose Rose Cycles company was based there - see cover of 1899 catalogue, below.

The address later became the studio of Forest Gate's premier Edwardian studio photographer, see backing from a family portrait from the first decade of the twentieth century.

Former residents of Sebert Road and their occupations

The Commercial Directories like Kelly’s reveal what was going on in any particular road: most of the records below are from the late 19th century:

2 Sebert Road - Thomas Hood, ham and beef dealer
3 Sebert Road - Fanny Lane, dressmaker
6 Sebert Road -  insurance office (and, see above)
8 Sebert Road -  Hobbs, builder (now The Emporium)
16 Sebert Road - Charles Ward bootmaker
18 Sebert Road -  Hollands sisters, grocers and wine merchants
20 Sebert Road - James Phillips, plumber
21 Sebert Road -  bookseller in 1920s.
29 Sebert Road -  Henry Homever, decorator
31 Sebert Road - Occupied in 1927 by James Lansbury brother of the famous George Lansbury MP. Previously it had been occupied by Ernest Goodwin, hop merchant in 1890s (see press cutting, below).
36 Sebert Road -  Lily Hopkins, dressmaker
115 Sebert Road - Richard Jones, insurance agent
125 Sebert Road - Whistler - boys private school
155 Sebert Road -  was sold for £750 in 1933.
183 Sebert Road - Thomas May, stonemason
236 Sebert Road - James Remmington, land and estate agent
242 Sebert Road - Elizabeth Wilson, laundress

This house on the corner of Lorne Rd was
 refurbished about 3 years ago and the
 owners erected this high fencing at the
 front. Enforcement action by Newham Council
 meant they had to take part of it down,
 as 2m high fencing like this is not
 permitted at the front of dwellings.

Press cuttings featuring Sebert Road

Sad Sebert Road - related suicide - 1883

Essex Herald 25 June 1883
Libelous comments about an affair - 1886

Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper,
 1 Aug 1886

 Suicide on railway line - 1890

Essex Newsman 1 November 1890

Practical joke goes horribly wrong - 1898

Chelmsford Chronicle, 25 March 1898

Grisly death of George Lansbury's brother - 1927

Dundee Evening
Telegraph 31 Jan 1927
 Footnote – If you have any suggestions for new streets to tackle contact Peter at 

Forest Gate's first Polish community

Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Polish Educational Society in Forest Gate was formed siixty years ago - in November 1956 - and became the first Polish organisation in East London.  It was the local branch of an organisation (Polska Macierz Szkolna), originally formed in 1905 in Warsaw. This is the story of the Forest Gate branch's early years.

The local society comprised 15 families - 30 members - when it was established. Jerzy Gradosielski was its first president. The Society's first task was to organise the Polish Saturday School, for Polish studies in Forest Gate. 

The school was named Queen Jadwiga's, at the AGM in 1968, after the first queen of medieval Poland. It had an initial pupil roll of 15, and began its life in St Anthony's church Lower Hall (see below for details of this and other school locations).

Queen Jadwiga - Poland's first medieval
 queen - after whom the local Polish
 school was named.
The school's main purpose was to teach the children of the members about Polish culture, faith, its 1,000 year history and traditions, in the Polish language.

This was important to the members, as many of them became partners in mixed marriages and their children did not necessarily speak the language at home, and certainly not at day school. A secondary purpose was to provide a social and cultural focus for the whole local Polish community, by organising events, outings and celebrations of the nation.

The Polish community that established the school had mainly arrived in Britain after the second World War, many having flown from Nazi persecution and others from Soviet domination, in a country that suffered the full ravages of that conflict.

St Anthony's church host to the first
 local Polish Catholic community
Danuta Gradosielska, wife of the first president of the Forest Gate Society (Jerzy, who had died in 1989) - see above - was interviewed in the Newham Magazine, in 2002,  about her original journey to the area and her local experiences here. She said:

We moved to London in April 1949, and then to Forest Gate in September 1949 with my husband and first daughter ... We are still here in Forest Gate, after 53 years! ...

When we came here in 1949 there was a large Polish community in West Ham and East Ham. Gradually it increased, mainly ex-servicemen who feared persecution if they returned to Poland. There were enough families to be able to organise social activities, centred around the Catholic Church, including a Saturday morning school to teach our children the Polish language and culture.

The school rapidly expanded its numbers, as other members of the ex-pat Polish community were attracted to it, and its aims. These were to encourage an appreciation of the Polish cultural heritage and traditions among their children, most of whom had been born in Britain.

Jerzy and Danuta Gradoslieska, stalwarts
 of the first local Polish community,
 reviewing the organisation's achievements in 1980
The school was the only Polish organisation in East London for the first seven years of its life, and embraced fellow countrymen and women from Poplar and Leyton to Romford and Upminister.

Thanks to the work of this Society, Polish masses were said once a month at St Anthony's from the summer of 1963 and a Polish Catholic parish was established in Forest Gate (covering the same geographic territory as the Society). Masses were soon said every Sunday, and the church appointed its own Polish priest, in December 1963. The first was Father Jerzy Frankowski. The parish supported a choral association.

By then, the Society had 148 members, with 54 children attending school, taught by four teachers. This school was supported by a small annual grant (in the region of £100) by the local authority - eventually Newham Council, after it had been incorporated in 1965.

The school's work was recognised in 1966 at the AGM of the Polish Educational Societies Abroad, as a centre where worthwhile work was being undertaken.

The school continued to grow in the 1960's, and by the end of the decade had 96 pupils, from the Society's membership of 155.

Second generation Polish children,
 celebrating the country's millennium
 in national costume, in Forest Gate,

in 1966
The Society, however, lacked a permanent base to call its own, so a building fund was started - supported, in its early days, by the proceeds from successful social functions.

In 1973 the parish bought a house - 2 Ashgrove Road, Goodmayes - and extension work was carried out. The resultant building provided a home for the parish priest, acted as a Polish cultural centre and later began to host Polish Saturday school classes.

St Chedd's catholic church in Goodmayes -
 now plays a more prominent role in
 the East of London Polish community
As the younger generation of people of Polish heritage grew up in Britain, they began to assimilate into the host community more (see later), their ties with the Polish Education Society began to weaken, and the organisation fell into decline. It did, however, try to foster organisations to cater for the young, including the establishment of a scout troop and a Plomien (Blaze) Youth Circle, teaching national songs and dance to its members.

Booklet, celebrating the first quarter
 century of East London's first Polish
 community organisation - based in Forest Gate
Danuta Gradosielska, interviewed by the Newham Recorder in March 1980, estimated that at the time there were around 200 Polish families in East London - about half of them in Forest Gate. She said:

However, there are a lot that we do not know about, as I discovered in my work as a social worker with the Polish community.

The editors of a booklet written to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Polish Educational Society in Forest Gate (in 1981) - see illustration of its cover -expressed a little sorrow at the reduced impact of the Society, but noted with some pride what the resultant assimilation had meant:

Many ex-pupils of our school go on to higher education and obtain degrees and other academic qualifications and hold important positions in the life of this country.

The story of our school is a faithful reflection of the story of the Polish community in East London.

Commemorative stamp, celebrating
 the first fifteen years of Forest
 Gate's Polish Educational Society

The Polish Education Society's 30th annual report, in November 1986, reported that due to a fall in numbers (only 21 pupils in 1984-5) and an increase in fees for using the school rooms at St Bonaventures, the society decided to switch to conducting the school in the Parish House, in Goodmayes.

By 1988, the Society was able to record that in addition to running the school, through which 260 children had passed, it had organised 270 events, published 75 newsletters and contributed towards the costs of publishing a book on Polish history.

Commenting on the activities of the first local Polish community, and its descendants, in 2002, Danuta Gradosielska, said:

Polish national holidays are celebrated with stage performances by children reciting poetry, singing folk songs and dancing in national costumes. Over the years, many people have moved away, but I still meet my Polish friends at church and other social functions, which nowadays mainly take place in Goodmayes.
According to the Polish school website (
The next stage in the life of the school was the start of the new millennium. In May 2004 Poland became a member of the European Union, with an influx of new families having children, the Queen Jadwiga School experienced the start of a new flourishing.
The numbers of children in the school grew, and classrooms were spread over three sites.  The Parents' Association decided to hire a building from a local secondary school.  In February 2006 the school moved to the Downshill Centre in Seven Kings, in buildings belonging to the Ursuline High School.

New generation of Polish migrants
 come following Polish membership
 of the European Community in 2004

In a quirky co-incidence, the local Polish school having started in Forest Gate, once it outgrew its original base has has moved into space owned by Ilford's Ursuline academy, which itself had grown out of Forest Gate roots (see here, for details).

According to the school's website; "In the school year 2015-16 lessons will be attended by some 500 boys and girls". There is now a teaching staff of 42 (teachers and assistants, under a director/headmistress), with 24 classes, including 2 infants.

In November 2016, the Polish Educational Society was proud to celebrate its 60th anniversary in East London.

Some additional notes on the Society's parish and locations, and some observations on the differences between the nature of the original Polish community and that of their latter day followers.

The Parish today

It is now the Parish of Forest Gate/Ilford with Waltham Cross, and it has a website (, but unfortunately there is no history section on this.

The Parish house continues to be at Ashgrove Road, Goodmayes.

It seems likely that Polish masses stopped being said at St Anthony's in the 1990's. They are now said at St Cedd's in Ilford on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

A note on Forest Gate locations and buildings used by the school

In its early years, the school used two parish buildings: St Antony's Hall and St Columba Hall.  The former was very large, on two floors, with high ceilings. It was situated behind the church on Lancaster Road.  The school used one or two rooms off the main staircase. St Bons used the main hall for assemblies. The building was demolished in the 1990's and the area is now occupied by housing.

St Columba Hall was very much smaller - a single story parish hall on the north side of Upton Park Road (no.99). It was set back from the road, with an entrance between the houses on either side. It has long since been demolished and its site is now covered by part of the Elmhurst school complex.

At times both halls were used by the school, as well as St Francis' hall, in the church. This created organisational problems.

From September 1966, the classes were brought together under one roof and on one corridor, in the old St Anthony's school, next to the hall on Lancaster Road. This building, itself was subsequently taken over by St Bon's school, with a new St Anthony's school opening on Upton Avenue.

That remained the site of the Polish school until its move to Goodmayes.

The older and newer Polish communities

Unlike most of East London's other substantial immigrations, the post-war Polish one was for political, rather than economic reasons (rather like the earlier Huguenots and post 1880's and 1930's Jewish settlements).

Two distinct migrant Polish communities,
 united by one national flag

Consequently, there was quite a large middle class element, and many went on to resume their careers and professions in London. Few returned to their homeland.

In contrast, the newer generation of Polish immigrants are primarily economic migrants, and their pattern of settlement may turn out to be very different.

Note If any members of the area's Polish communities would like to add detail, or anecdotes to this account, we would be delighted to incorporate them in the article, above.

We would be delighted to run similar features on the history of other migrant communities to Forest Gate, like this and our earlier one on the Jewish community (see here, for details), should any community wish to have its history and presence featured in this blog.

Godwin School ( boys ) log 2 - Godwin and Forest Gate pre WW1 (1900 - 1914)

Monday, 30 January 2017

This is the second of a series of posts based on the school log of Godwin School, from 1883 - 1984, providing a fascinating, worms' eye view of the development of the local area.

Godwin school in 1973
See here for details of the first post and a background to this series of articles.

This article, in particular, highlights:

  • Great successes achieved by the school in both Music (nationally and internationally) and football (London, and Essex-wide);
  • how Godwin pupils and Forest Gate people, more generally, responded to national and international events;
  • significant achievements made by some former Godwin pupils;
  • continued praise for the school and its record, by HMIs.
2 Mar 1900 The school was closed today, to celebrate the relief of Ladysmith (ed: significant development in the Boer War).

Contemporary painting of the Relief of Ladysmith
26 Mar 1900 The school choir competed at the Stratford Musical Festival this evening. The choir was successful in gaining 1st prize.

16 May 1900 The attendance was greatly suffered today in consequence of a Patriotic Procession taking place in Forest Gate.(ed: This procession was to whip up jingoistic fervour for the Boer War. The Stratford Express covered it at length, the extract below was published in advance of the procession, forewarning its readers of it.  The extract below mentions that the procession was to go through the streets of Forest Gate on the evening of the publication and Stratford the following evening. It would feature 157 cars - some displaying arms, other tableau with such names as "Home at Mafeking", "Britannia and South Africa", "Men in khaki " and "Camp Life". Three days afterwards  the paper devoted two thirds of a broadsheet page to coverage of the procession.  This is worthy of an article in its own right, and we will return to it in a later article). 
Stratford Express
16 May 1900
21 May 1900 The school was closed today, to celebrate the Relief of Mafeking. (ed: significant development in the Boer War).

1 Feb 1901 In accordance with Board instructions, the master gave a lesson to each section today on the life of the late Queen Victoria. School closed this afternoon, by order of the Board, in consequence of the funeral.

1 Oct 1901 18 years today, this school begun in a temporary building.

5 Jun 1902 The Board has given a holiday to celebrate the peace between this country and the Transvaal. (ed: end of the Boer War).

31 Oct 1902 The master left at 2.30 to attend the stone laying of school for defective children at Grange Road. (ed: now Grange Road Special school, opened for "disabled children" as a project by the Canning Town Women's Settlement).

27 Nov 1902 School closed at noon, by order of the Board, on account of the Shakespearean Bazaar at the Town hall Stratford, in aid of the West Ham hospital.

8 Feb 1905 HMI report This school is well organised and under very good influence. The teaching is careful and thorough, producing much accurate and intelligent work.

24 Feb 1905 Boys cautioned re getting on or near the tram cars.

27 Feb 1905 The boys were very jubilant today. The school football team won their match against Eltringham Street, the champions of South London in the Dewar Shield competition on Saturday. (ed: This was the London Schools championship shield, for football. It is still competed for today, as a trophy for year 10 pupils).

15 May 1905 The district football shield returned to this school today, for last season's success. This is the 7th time out of 9 that Godwin Road has had the honour of holding this shield.

23 Nov 1905 School closed this afternoon by order of the Education Committee in honour of the Duchess of Connaught's (ed: daughter-in-law of Queen Victoria)visit to the borough to open the American Bazaar, under the patronage and active support of the Duchess of Marlborough, for the Extension scheme for the West Ham hospital. (ed: this Bazaar took place in the pre-NHS era, and was a fund raiser for the local hospital - as were held in many places in the country - at a time when most working people effectively relied on charity for their health care.  The event was significant enough to not only result in local schools being closed, but in attracting two thirds of a broadsheet page coverage in the Stratford Express - the headline of which is shown below).

Stratford Express 25 November 1905
12 Feb 1906 Mr Walker, art connoisseur and dealer of Newquay, Cornwall called and informed the master that Frank Watson, an old Godwin boy had just left him to take up a scholar's life at the Donald Fraser Institute, Glasgow for 4 years. Mr Walker showed some of Watson's pictures and says in his opinion that he would make his mark in the art world.

26 Mar 1906 This has been a Red Letter Day ... in the elementary school choir competition at Stratford Music Festival ... 7 schools entered ... and our boys gained first prize ... the test piece was 'Shout! Throw your banner out!" and the choir's own selection "Sleep sweet birdie".

25 Mar 1907 On Saturday our boys gained the distinction of winning the championship for London in the football field. Our team beat Page Green 3 - 0, and so became the holders of the Dewar Shield for the year.

22 Mar 1909 It was painful to hear that Ambrose Rotiusno, Standard 7 was found hanging in a cupboard in his mother's room, yesterday about 2 o'clock (ed: newspaper article calls him Robinson - see below. The jury's verdict was that he met his death by "hanging while swinging about". They did not think he committed suicide).

Stratford Express 24 March 1909
29 Mar 1909 The master, with Mr Rawlings and some of the boys in his class, attended the funeral of Ambrose Rotiuso on Saturday afternoon.

23 Dec 1909 Mr Barker, one of our former pupil teachers came to see us this morning. He has just succeeded in obtaining his BSc degree at London. He was with us from Sep 1899.

15 Apr 1910 The boys were allowed an extra quarter hour's recreation this morning, to celebrate the completion of the 25th year of the opening of the school.

21 Apr 1910 School began work at 1.45 and was dismissed at 3.55. This was to enable the boys to go to Ilford to play the semi-final in the Cook Cup competition.  All staff and about 200 boys went. The school team won the match against Central Park school 3 - 0 (ed: the competition was instituted by the county Football Association, in memory of its late secretary, Robert Cook. It was open to all elementary schools in Essex. It is still competed for, under the aegis of Essex FA, for under 15s).

2 May 1910 The boys played the final of the Cook Cup competition. They met Albert Road school, Romford, at the Boleyn Castle grounds. Our boys won the match 10 - 1 and so became holders of the cup.

9 May 1910 The atmosphere at the school today has been somewhat disturbed. This is not to be wondered at, seeing that His Majesty King Edward V11 passed away just before midnight on Friday.

14 Oct 1910 The attendance this week has not been good. The Jewish holidays affected it.

21 Dec 1910 The secretary of Robert Cook Cup arrived, having made arrangements for the cup to be presented to the school. The ceremony took place this afternoon.

21 Jun 1911 School closed for the Coronation holiday, resuming on June 29.

29 Jun 1911 School reassembled this morning. The Coronation celebration was held yesterday. The boys went to the Electric Theatre ( ed: see photo. This was located near where the Co-op is today, on Woodgrange Road.  It was later known as the Imperial and also The Royal.  See here for details of the cinemas). in the morning, played games on the Flats in the afternoon and returned to school for refreshments. A very enjoyable day was spent.

Outside of Electric theatre

... and inside
7 Dec 1911 It was with satisfaction that one records that Mr Higginson, a former pupil, and Mr Bundell have each obtained the BSc degree at London University.

25 Mar 1912 The choir was successful in gaining the Challenge Shield on Friday, with 77 marks out of 80 and a certificate for singing, with 37 marks out of 40.

2 May 1912 The football team played South Church school at Southend yesterday in the Cook Cup final and won the match 4 - 1, and thus became holders for the year.

6 May 1912 The boys of the choir going to Paris attended today at the Town Hall for a lesson in French from 1pm to 2.15pm, and then returned to school (ed: An extract from Fifty Years a borough:  1886 - 1963 - the Story of West Ham wrote of "Mr Harry Earle and the splendid choir he trained at St Matthew's church, Stratford. Many of his old Godwin Road boys too, remembered with advantage the great days when (he) trained them to compete at the International Competition  held at Paris: how he found the money, took them there, and, on their return as victors they stood at the fountain at Forest Gate station and sang prize songs to a great crowd of friends and admirers. One of the songs was composed by a West Ham musician.").
Slightly grainy photo from Stratford Express
 of 150 West Ham children (including 50
 from Godwin school) on the steps of Vincennes
 Town Hall, during their visit to Paris

Stratford Express coverage of the French trip
3 Jun 1912 The choir was very successful at the Paris music festival, gaining 1st prize in the choral competition and in the singing at sight contest.  All the boys returned on Wednesday last, safe and sound, after a very enjoyable, but strenuous experience. (ed: this is quite an extraordinary story, which the Stratford Express, not surprisingly, covered in considerable detail. Part of that detail is a diary kept by the school of its time on the trip.  Although quite lengthy, this is worth an article on its own, and will feature in a future blog).

17 Jul 1912 The prizes won by the choir in Paris were publicly presented this evening by Baron de Forest MP for North West Ham (ed: see here for more details of the MP).

Stratford Express 20 July 1912

Maurice, Baron de Forest, the local
MP presented  prizes won in Paris
, to boys in the  choir, following
 their successes
26 Sep 1912 The school choir has been asked to sing at a Garden party given in West Ham Park in connection with the Municipal Tramways Conference. Mr Earle and the master are accompanying them to the park.

30 Sep 1912 Arthur Wright (Standard 1) brought a tin 'squeaker' to school. He was sucking it, when it was swallowed. The master sent the boy home to inform his mother.

3 Apr 1913 We had a very interesting visitor this afternoon, Mr John Rassuessen, who left the school in 1901. He has been in India in the Rifles Brigade. Unlike many soldiers, he has made a careful study of the life, religion and matters connected with the people.  Mr Rassuessen has been into Tibet, and so ingratiated himself into the good graces of the Lamas, that he has been shown many sacred places, played chess with them and been treated as a friend. We shall try and get him to speak to the boys on India.

25 Aug 1913 HMI report There is a good deal that is very praiseworthy at this school.

19 Nov 1913 George Cornwall called to inform us he had gained a Draper's scholarship and is going to Cambridge in October. He gained a scholarship at the secondary school from this school in 1908.

24 Nov 1913 A choir of boys from this school went to the Crystal Palace on Saturday to take part in a musical competition, under the aegis of the palace authorities. There were 15 schools who sang, this school was the winner of the first prize, gaining 96 marks out of 100. 
The impressive Crystal Palace, in south
 London, where it was located after the
 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park
 and its destruction by fire in 1936