A survivor's tale - 1941 bombing of the Princess Alice

Friday, 20 April 2018

One of the delights of running this website is that sometimes articles can prompt replies and memories that can add colour and flavour to our understanding of the past.

One such correspondence was provoked by our article on the history of the Princess Alice (see here for details). Reader, John Muskett was in the pub the night of the bombing. We are posting this article on the 77th anniversary of the bomb - 20 April 1941.

This is his story:
I was guided to your web site and was sad to hear that The Princess Alice is no more. 
I was actually in the Princess Alice at the time of the bombing and wanted to show my eldest son something about it.
Princess Alice pub in the 1930's - pre bombing
The Landlord at that time was Mr Albert Smith. His wife, Violet, was my mother's sister. I lived with my maternal grandparents, - as my mother had died a year or so before.  Another aunt lived with us, but our house had been bombed and we were, homeless at that time. We lived, temporarily in the pub for a while, until we were rehoused.
John Muskett - whose memories are retold
 here, at about the time of the bombing in 1941
The cellars of the Princess Alice were very extensive, at least they were as far as a 5 1/2 year old was concerned. One of them rather resembled a hospital ward, being surrounded by beds. My aunt and uncle giving any passing serviceman without somewhere to go, a bed for the night.  I was down there we were when the bombing happened. 
Bomb site, where the pub
once stood - after April 1941
The Head Barman also lived in the pub and had been in the cinema - see photo of bombed Queen's cinema, below - on which the bomb actually dropped, the fall-out from the explosion hit mainly the front of the Alice - opposite.
Queen's Cinema, Romford Road, in the 1930's,
 opposite the Princess Alice and between
 Barclays Bank and what was the Odeon
 Cinema and is now the Minaj-ul-Quran mosque
I remember the head barman being asked how many people he thought may have been in there, by a fireman leaning on a felling axe. 
That was something that must have impressed itself on me as I cannot think why my memory of that particular incident should be so clear after all these years. 
I also remember the next morning when we had to pick our way over all the bricks and rubble to get out and I picked up the top of a soda syphon which I had for a great many years afterwards.
Queen's Cinema, completely destroyed by a
parachute mine on the day the Alice was struck
by what John says was collateral damage.
The death of the man you mentioned (ed: killed while out walking his dog) has always served to remind me just how simple decisions and luck can make a difference to life and death.
He was the dentist who lived next door and came in to us for shelter when there was an air raid (ed: according to the West Ham register of the WW2 civilian dead register, this looks like it would have been Herbert Emile Kaye, aged about 60 of 1 Woodgrange Road). On the night of the bomb, he chose to come just when the bomb exploded, and he was still in the street when he was hit. 
The Sunday Express describing the dramatic
 night of bombing that saw the end of
 the Queen's cinema and destruction of the
 Alice, April 1941
I was told that he was blown through the flaps in the pavement where the beer would have been lowered into the cellar, and was found in the cellar next to the one we were in. How true that was I cannot say. 
 Some years later - I think maybe in the 70's or 80's - there was a report in one of the evening papers that the ghost of the dentist had been seen in the Princess Alice. When I told my aunt, she said he was looking for her, as she had paid a deposit for some new dentures and never had either the dentures or her deposit returned!
There is just one question I would like to ask you if I may.  I know I went to school while I was there, although not for any great time. It was a small school, in possibly a couple of houses in one of the streets close to the pub.
It was certainly within walking distance and run by nuns. Quite why I went there I do not know, as we were not Catholics.  I assume that it is no longer there but would appreciate it if you could confirm that for me.
 (Ed: I'm afraid we cannot help you with an answer to your question, John. It sounds as if the sisters may have been some that stayed in Forest Gate after St Angela's school evacuated to Norfolk.  John seems to think the school may have been in the Earlham Grove/Norwich Road area. Perhaps one of our readers can assist, and post a comment, below?).
I still have a small card inscribed, To dear little John from the Sisters.

 The card from the Sisters to John - 1941
 As you will no doubt have realised,  I am now in my eighties and, like so many older people, I so often think back to the times past. I find myself constantly surprised by the trivial little memories that come to mind. 
I was probably only living at the Princess Alice for about 4 or 5 months and yet one of the things that made a great impression on my mind was a visit to Wanstead Flats where I saw the Fire Brigade practising. I saw the rainbow in the jet from their hose and how it disappeared into the ground when the water was shut off! Why should that have made such an impression?
Prior to being bombed out and going to live at the Princess Alice we went there to see the wonderful new thing called television.  The room was duly darkened and the television set switched on but, to everyone's disappointment, nothing came on. 
Uncle Bert, who was not renowned for his patience, fiddled with all sorts of knobs at the back in vain and finally all attempts were given up.  Later, when the evening papers were delivered, it was discovered that all television broadcasts were discontinued for the duration of the war! The television, having been salvaged from the Princess Alice, was, strangely enough, the set on which I eventually saw my first ever television show when broadcasts began after the war.
I hope that the ramblings of an old man have been of some interest to you and remain,
 Yours faithfully,
John Muskett.


Fifth anniversary round up - past and future

Tuesday, 10 April 2018


This week marks the fifth anniversary of the E7-NowAndThen blog, during which time we have published a little over 200 articles, on a ratio of about 1:2 - Now:Then. This article is a brief review of the past, with some pointers to the future direction of the blog.

First, the stats. The site has had just short of half a million visitors and now attracts an average of well over 400 hits a day. The complementary twitter account @E7_NowAndThen has a little under 1700 followers and is happy to re-tweet anything interesting about E7.

The articles receiving most hits, unsurprisingly, are those that have been live longest. The most popular tend to be about the "Now" rather than the "Then", and at the pleasure seeking end of the scale of topics covered.


The five year top five hits have been:

Forest Gate good (and not so good) pub guide, past and present (2013) - here

Forest Tavern in good pub guides

Forest Gate pub guide (2014) - here

Upper Cut Club, part 1 - the rise (2013) - here

Billy Walker's Upper Cut club

Fires guts famous gym (2013) - here

Kenny Johnson and the Lotus Club (2014) - here

Kenny Johnson's Lotus Club

The most visited post published over the last twelve months have been:

Criminal Landlords of Forest Gate, named and shamed - here

Bryan Forbes recalls his local origins - here

Bryan Forbes goes back to school in Forest Gate

Redevelopment plans for Woodgrange Road Methodist church - here

Woodgrange Methodist church,
redevelopment proposals

Dames Road disaster - here

Survivor's tale - Forest Gate Industrial school - here.

The Criminal Landlords post received the fastest hit rate in the shortest period of time on the blog  - racking up over 2,000 hits in its first week live.

Some of our most successful, and satisfying, posts (particularly the Dames Road disaster and Survivor's tale, above) have been when we have been contacted by witnesses or descendants of participants of significant events and have been able to shed a new light on an older story, and added to the depth of understanding and authenticity of local events of historic importance.


Charles Hipkins, survivor of the Forest
 Gate Industrial school fire,
1890 - what he did next
Similarly, over the last couple of years, we have been able to produce ground-breaking biographies of a number of local people -  adding to our, and other historians', understanding of them as individuals - by pulling material, some very local, together in ways never previously done. So, we have added to the appreciation of a number of  people normally confined to footnotes in more general histories.

We are particularly pleased to have been able to achieve this with Frank FitzGerald, Irish patriot and father of one of the country's recent taoiseachs (Garret) - see here, anarchist and some-time William Morris associate, Charles Mowbray - see here. These were largely put together by local historian, @Flatshistorian, Mark Gorman. Most recently our biography/timeline on local suffragette, Minnie Baldock, did precisely this as well (see here).



Charles Mowbray and Minnie Baldock

For the future, we will be looking to build on some of these historic successes.

So - next week's post will continue the survivor's tale tradition, by telling the story of one of the witnesses of the bombing of the Princess Alice, in 1941 - the still very much alive John Muskett.

We are now working in collaboration with outside bodies, contributing to, and delivering, larger and more ambitious projects.

The first of these is a film, to which we have contributed, Archibald Cameron Corbett, the man and the houses, about the developer behind the Woodgrange Estate and the Forest Gate clock/horse trough, outside the railway station.  This fascinating hour-long, professionally produced, film will be showing at the Gate library on Woodgrange Road on Thursday 26 April, at 8pm - free of charge. To ensure entry, please book in advance. (see poster, below)

Archibald Corbett film - the Gate
Thurs 26 April 8pm - free!
Another collaboration project is with the family of William Edward Wright. He was a prominent Forest Gate-based photographer working in the latter years of Victoria's reign and throughout Edward V11's.  He had eight studio branches in total, including two in Forest Gate.  

We will be publishing a blog about the man in a few weeks, and hope to put on an exhibition about the man and his works, in co-operation with his family, later in the year, in Forest Gate and elsewhere, . This follows the collaboration we had last year with Paul Romaine, in putting on his exhibition on The Upper Cut, as part of Newham's Heritage Week.  See here for subsequent post on this blog.

 Wright, the photographer - blog and possible exhibition pending!

We have written extensively about bike building and pleasure in Forest Gate at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries (herehere and here). We are working with Boneshaker magazine to publish  lengthy, and to them and us an important, article on this significant industry and leisure activity locally - later in the summer.

Boneshaker - to feature cycling in Forest
Gate at turn on 19th/20th centuries
Layers of London is a lottery-funded history initiative sponsored by the Institute of Historical Research at University College, London. 

Theirs is a three year project which aims to display London history via a digitised map foundation, so that visitors can - by clicking on a pointer on the modern map - access the history of that spot and events that took place in or around it. It will also be possible to see how the immediate area has changed over time, by examining different era maps of the locality and "drilling" though them. 

Our features on local street histories (e.g Capel, Sebert Dames, Woodford Roads and Earlham Grove), written by local historian, Peter Williams, will be particularly valuable for this initiative.

We will be contributing to this project and by the time it is officially launched in June it will be possible to access over 100 aspects of Forest Gate history on it.

Layers of London - web pages under
construction - should have over 100
Forest Gate entries, when launched in June
As far as the "Now" aspect of the website is concerned, we will continue to cover major planning and development activities affecting Forest Gate, and offer the opportunities for people to engage in a discussion on the proposal. A good example of this would be our article on the development plans for 39 -49 Woodgrange Road (see here), which has had almost 4,000 hits and attracted over 40 comments in the two years since it was first posted.

We will also dig out E7 angles on Newham-wide, or national surveys and statistics - often being able to throw up major talking points - as our regular food hygiene surveys and recent surveys of crooked landlords and lettings agencies have.

We are always open to receiving contributory posts, or suggestions of areas to research and publish - subject to legal and decency considerations.

Thank you for supporting this blog over the last five years. We hope you can join us in looking forward to the next five!

The good, the bad and criminal of Forest Gate's Lettings Agents

Sunday, 1 April 2018


Newham Council became the first in the country to publish a ratings scheme for residential lettings agencies, last autumn - with agents being awarded from zero to five stars, depending on their performance.
  
Below, we produce their verdict on the 28 Forest Gate agents they reviewed - and have comments on some that they haven't. The ratings scheme exists to complement the licensing scheme the council operates for private sector landlords in the borough, and covered recently by this site, here.

The agency scheme judges the companies according to which agents failed to: refund renters deposits, failed to pass on rental income to landlords, charged unreasonable fees or failed to address complaints.


4 stars for Romford Road's Century 21
70,000 Newham households are in the private rented sector - so a majority of local residents will have an interest in the results of the scheme's publication.

Newham's scheme is supported by major organisations with not-for-profit housing interests, such as Shelter, Peabody and Generation Rent - the campaigning body.

A brief summary of what lettings' agency practices are likely to attract what ratings would be:

0 stars - The agent would have attracted a relevant criminal conviction within the last five years. Newham has not award zero stars to any local agent, a fact we consider towards the end of this article.

1 star - Compliance failure with a local code of conduct, or receipt of a caution of inappropriate behaviour over the last two years.

2 stars - The agent has not been receipt of any compliance failure notice for a period of two years.

3 stars - The agent is a fully complaint business, with no recent failures or convictions.

3 stars at C&S of Romford Road 
- and while there, why not book
 a holiday?
4 stars - The agent is a fully compliant business and a member of at least one relevant professional body.

5 stars - A fully complaint business with no tenants' fees, or one which provides a credit ratings service for tenants.

No Forest Gate agency has achieved five stars. East Ham's McDowell's became the first in the borough to do so - coinciding with the publication of the scheme in October last year.

159 lettings agents are covered by the Newham scheme over the whole borough, including 28 in Forest Gate, of which:

3 (2%) in total - 0 in Forest Gate (0%)  - have 5 stars

44 (30%) in total - 3 in Forest Gate (11%) - have 4 stars

79 (52%) in total - 20 in Forest Gate (74%) - have 3 stars

8 (5%) in total - 1 in Forest Gate (4%) - have 2 stars

17 (11%) in total - 3 in Forest Gate (12%) - have 1 star

0 (0%) in total - 0 in Forest Gate (0%) - have 0 stars

9 (6%)  in total - 1 in Forest Gate (4%) - are pending a rating figure

The agents below are rated in alphabetical order within each star category

**** stars Forest Gate lettings agents

Century 21 - 450 Romford Road
Sparemove - 9 Railways Station Bridge, Woodgrange Road
Your Move - 176-7, Forest Lane


4 Stars - Your Move
*** stars Forest Gate lettings agents

Agha Properties/The Best Properties - 482 Katherine Road
Beautiful Estates - 438 Katherine Road
4 stars for Beautiful Estates
C+S Property - 520 Romford Road
CMS Homes - 503 Katherine Road -
Hamar Property Services - 299 Romford Road
Key 2 Key - 120 Upton Lane
3 for Key to Key
Knightsbridge Estates - 179 Forest Lane
Let, Sell, Property - 34 Green Street
Mak Property - 95 Woodgrange Road
Marvel Estates - 367 Katherine Road
Nest Property - 414 Katherine Road
Patrap Property Co - 202b Green Street
Phase Property Services - 89 Upton Lane


Phase Property Services - 89 Upton Lane

Remax (now called MasterClass Properties)- 471 Romford Road




























3 stars for Remax of Romford Road - now rebranded MasterClass properties

Saji Property Services - 196 Shrewsbury Road
Spencers - 70 Woodgrange Road
Stirling and Co - 29 Upton Lane
TS Property Services - 449 Katherine Road
Whites - 521 Katherine Road
Wilkinson's - 78 Woodgrange Road

** stars Forest Gate lettings agents

Ace Property Services - Citygate House, 246 Romford Road


A not so ace 2 stars for Ace Property Services
* star Forest Gate lettings agents

Godefred Property - 130 Upton Lane
Londinium - 400 Romford Road
Just 1 star for Londinium
M + M property - 501 Katherine Road

Big National names, elsewhere in Newham

Bairstow Eves (Stratford) - 4 stars
Haart (East Ham and Stratford) - 4 stars
Keatons (Stratford) - 4 stars
Century 21 (Stratford) - 2 stars
Foxton's (Stratford) - 1 star


A lowly one star for Straford's
"top end of the market" Foxton's
Old Friends

Newham Council has been a little coy in some of its categorisations. 

According to the criteria for each star, listed at the top of this article, lettings agents with relevant criminal convictions related to their business within the last five years, should be awarded zero stars under the scheme. Yet the council lists no agents with zero stars in its published details.

But, as we showed in our recent feature on local criminal landlords (see here for details), the council has successfully prosecuted three local lettings agents over the last year, for relevant offences. None, however, has been listed as having zero stars in the register that the council is proud to promote as challenging and innovative.  The council has fudged the issue. 


Filtons - despite criminal convictions,
 listed as "status pending"
Filton's - 190 High Street, Stratford and SM Properties 468, Katherine Road, are both of which are listed as status "pending inspection". Barclays Estates of Upton Lane - isn't listed at all in the council's register.  

The zero ratings these agencies should have been awarded would clearly have been very bad for business for them; surely, the whole purpose of the register.  The council's fudge, however, has meant that they can continue trading, apparently untarnished by a poor agency rating.

Filton's is a lettings agent, which is currently advertising 20 properties on its website - the vast majority in Newham.  The company clearly has a cavalier attitude to its business and social responsibilities. To quote its website:
We are an estate and property management group run by some of the most disruptive minds in the industry ... We .. play hard, without the bureaucracy (ed: like abiding by Housing legislation, apparently). ... We don't do uppity suits and fake smiles. That's why we're turning the industry upside down ... And we're pushing boundaries for clients with new revenue streams, managed short lets and award winning marketing .
The company's intolerance of the niceties of the law got them into trouble on 7 June 2017, when they were fined £5,000 for a failure to display accurately display their letting fees on their premises, as required by consumer protection law.

As we said in our article on Forest Gate's criminal landlords:
Any would-be tenant considering using Filton's is advised to search its Facebook presence. Its services are rated by 10 people - seven of them giving the firm only one star out of five.
SM Properties was fined £4,000 on 13 September 2017 for a failure to display its letting fees appropriately, within its premises.

Painful convictions for Katherine
 Road's SM properties, but Newham
 coyly leaves it as an agency "pending"
inspection, rather than giving it the
zero stars, as its classification
 criteria state it should have
Barclays Estates of 86 Upton Lane has been fined three times, following convictions instituted by the Council, but is not listed as even existing in the council's lettings agency register - see photo below as evidence to the contrary.




Above - Barclays Estates signage before
 the prosecutions, below, after prosecutions





Uncle Joe knew where you lived!

Thursday, 22 March 2018

A timely post, as the media is awash with stories of Russian spies.


Newham Bookshop and the Wanstead Tap recently hosted a great evening of author John Davies talking about his recently published book, The Red Atlas (see footnote for details). We were delighted when he agreed to write an article about it - and its references to Forest Gate, in particular for this website.

In the article below, John tells the story of the book, in relation to East London.

At the foot of the article, there is a small section specifically commenting on Forest Gate, through the eyes of the cartographers.  In all cases, it should be possible to increase the size of the map on your screen, by clicking on it - to follow the captions.

John writes:

Do you live in ОЛДЕРСБРУК, ФОРЕСТ-ГЕЙТ, МАНОР-ПАРК, УОНСТЕД or ЛЕИТОНСТОН?

If so, then during the Cold War, Uncle Joe (that’s Churchill’s ironic nickname for the Russian dictator Stalin) – and all his successors through to Gorbachev, certainly knew all about your district, your road, even your house.

For Aldersbrook, Forest Gate, Manor Park, Wanstead and Leytonstone (as we know them) were among the places featured in incredible detail in a series of maps created and maintained by the Red Army throughout the period from the end of the Second World War until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992.

Forest Gate area, with Aldersbrook and
 Manor Park named in Cyrillic. The
 Central Line is labelled ‘
метро’ (metro)
 and Leyton station is marked with M,
 unlike the stations on the other lines.
The four-sheet map of Greater London, for example, from which these extracts are taken, was compiled in 1980 and printed in 1985. It is at the scale of 1:25,000 (about 2½ inches to the mile, the same as the familiar Ordnance Survey Explorer maps), with a supplementary booklet listing nearly 400 ‘Important Objects’, a street index, a descriptive essay detailing the topography, climate, demographics, industry and economy of London, and a diagrammatic map of the Underground network.

Sheet 2, north-east London, is a large sheet of paper, measuring about 1 metre by 1.1 metres, printed in ten colours, covering an area from Blackfriars Bridge in the south-west corner, north up the Lea Valley to Enfield and east as far as Aveley and Upminster. The other three London sheets extend as far as Watford in the north-west, Weybridge in the south-west and beyond Orpington in the south-east.

Leytonstone and Wanstead. Both tube
 stations marked M. The symbol indication
 electrified railway is seen just north
 of Leytonstone station, before the road bridge
Depicted on these maps is information not shown on British Ordnance Survey or commercial street atlases of the time, such as annotation indicating the width and surface material of highways, the European road number of major routes, the load-bearing capacity of bridges, the names and products of factories, the distinction between ‘metro’ lines and stations (ie the Underground) and national railway lines and stations, the distinction between electrified and non-electrified lines – and even in some cases showing on which side of the tracks the station building is located. 

Part of the geographic diagram of
‘metro’ lines appended to the map,
showing also major roads named
as Forest Road, Woodford Avenue
and East Ham & Barking By-Pass
The maps use colour-coding to identify ‘Important Objects’ which are numbered and listed in the accompanying index. Objects of military significance are coloured green, governmental and administrative objects in purple and industrial, utilities or transportation in black.

The information is exceedingly well researched and few errors are found. One such error, presumably ‘lost in translation’ is object 263, coded purple, which is listed as ‘the residence of the queen and prime minister’ but is in fact Her Majesty’s Theatre, Haymarket in the West End.

Central London, showing River Thames in upper
case letters (indicating navigable river),
ticks along the embankment indicating vertical
sides suitable for mooring, arrows showing
direction of flow of river and direction of tide,
cross-hatching on railway bridge indicating
metal construction, tunnel running north from
Waterloo Bridge (the Kingsway tram subway)
and showing ‘metro’ stations. None of this
information appears on contemporary 
Ordnance
Survey
 maps. ‘Important objects’ are colour
coded and numbered, including 28 Charing
Cross station, 240 Treasury, 246 Ministry
of Defence, 263 (see story), 283 Greater
London Council, 351 HQ General Staff.
London was not the only British city mapped in this way; at least 100 other such maps are known, most of which are the larger scale of 1:10,000 (about six inches to the mile) and include such places of relative unimportance strategically as Gainsborough, Lincolnshire and Dunfermline, Fife. 

The earliest known are 1950 maps of Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock, the latest is a map of Falmouth dated 1997 (after the demise of USSR). Some of the maps overlap, particularly in the industrial areas of Lancashire and West Yorkshire. In fact, Aveley and the Dartford Tunnel appear on the overlap of the London map and the 1:10,000 Thurrock map of 1977.

Other local maps include Southend-on-Sea (1985), Colchester (1975) and Luton, which was mapped in 1973 and again in 1986.

Debden showing the M11 labelled
as M11 and E112 (a Europe-wide
numbering system for major routes which
was not adopted in UK and which did
not appear on any British maps) and
also annotated as 11x2
Ц – indicating
2 carriageways 11 meters wide with
concrete surface. Note also the contour
line with spot height 46 just west of the
railway. This ‘closed’ contour has ticks
indicating which side is lower, a useful
convention which is not used on British maps.
The maps are labelled Secret and were produced by VTU (the Military Topographic Directorate of the General Staff of the Soviet Army - Военно-Топографическое управление Генерального Штаба Советской Армии). 

Their existence was unknown to Western military and only came to light in the shambolic circumstances after the collapse of USSR, thanks to exploits worthy of a John Le Carré spy novel; in some cases stocks of maps were sold as ‘waste paper’ to save the cost of destroying them; in other cases semi-official sources desperate for dollars clinched black market deals with eager American dealers.

This was in the early 1990s, the era before the ready availability of the kind of geo-information freely available today, such as online maps, street views and satellite images.

Commercial map makers in Britain wanting to produce and sell maps would have only three choices in deriving the necessary source information:  do their own survey (time-consuming), use out-of-copyright Ordnance Survey maps (at least fifty years out-of-date), or pay licence fees to OS (expensive).

Dartford Tunnel as depicted on 1977
Thurrock 1:10,000 map and on 1985
London 1:25,000 map (south-east
sheet). The tunnel is annotated as
having a length of 1600 metres
on the earlier map.

The sudden influx of cheap, accurate, modern mapping looked like it would change all that. At the time OS was engaged in a long-running dispute with the AA over alleged copyright infringement (which it eventually won with a £20 million out-of-court settlement in March 2001) and was determined to avoid this potential undermining of its business model.

Thus, the OS declared that the Soviet mapping ‘is almost entirely an adaptation of Ordnance Survey Crown copyright material. It was produced without the permission of Ordnance Survey and thus it infringes Ordnance Survey's Crown copyright’ and went on to demand that anyone in possession of the maps hand them in and to threaten legal action against anyone importing or offering for sale or reproducing any part of the maps.

This statement, although not quite the truth, was sufficient to suppress any interest in the Soviet maps in UK until recently. In fact, although information derived from OS maps can be seen to contribute to the Soviet maps, OS is only one of many sources that were used. Others included satellite images, trade directories, railway timetables, tourist guides, street atlases, and observations by agents on the ground.

Forest Gate - in detail


Above is the Forest Gate detail of the Soviet map surveyed in 1980 and printed in 1985.  By clicking on it, it should be possible to enlarge it for a closer view.  If so, and you live in Forest Gate, you will probably be able to see your house marked - so, Uncle Joe really could have known where you lived!

There are a few points of particular interest.  This section of the map is clearly dominated by Wansted Flats; but the area is marked Aldersbrook. This is confusing to the casual viewer, but apparently quite common for map makers to do - they often label blank spaces according to the nearest housing development. 

It is interesting, though without explanation, that the two sections of the Flats adjacent to Centre Road (see below) are predominantly shaded white, whereas the sections near Dames Road and north of Cann Hall Road are predominantly pale brown. There are no obvious explanations for this. The lakes/ponds, tree clusters and banking by Alexandra Lake are all well and accurately marked.

The two other largish areas without a light brown background are the cemeteries - Manor Park with a mixture of white and green (for grass) backgrounds, the West Ham and Jewish cemeteries with simply a white background - indicating no large grass areas.

Just south of the West Ham/Jewish cemeteries is a cluster of buildings, with a name.  The word is "hospital", from the days (accurate when the map was plotted) that what is now Gladys Dimson House, was then Newham Maternity Hospital.

The road markings are strange.  Romford Road (the A118) is quite clearly the most important, strategic and busy road covered by this section of the map, but it is given a lower status - by colour - than both Leytonstone and Aldersbrook Roads. We have no logical explanation for this.

Other roads, clearly marked, in the Cyrillic script are: Earlham Grove, Forest Lane, Odessa Road, Ramsey Road, Cann Hall Road, Dames Road, Capel Road, Cranmer Road, Sebert Road, Godwin Road, Ridley Road, Windsor Road, Katherine Road and Sherrard Road.

Centre Road is wrongly marked as Blake Hall Road, with the map maker, wrongly assuming that Centre Road was simply a continuation of Blake Hall. 

In terms of the Woodgrange estate, it is interesting that Windsor Road is shown as wider than the other lateral roads, and is the only one of the four of them to be named.  Equally strange, Richmond Road is marked, rather than Balmoral as the road at right angles to the lateral roads on the estate. Strategically, Balmoral is more important, as it offers a through road in and out of the estate, and Richmond doesn't. Quite why Richmond and not Balmoral was marked is not obvious

What, at first sight, appear to be the railway arches along the Goblin line, are not the arches, but railway embankments.

Towards the top right hand of the map is a wiggly line.  This is the 15 metre contour line. There is a 13 metre spot height indicated on Aldersbrook Road and a 14 metre mark on Capel Road.

Happy map-gazing!

Footnote: John Davies lives in Woodford Green and is co-author of Red Atlas: How the Soviet Union Secretly Mapped the World http://redatlasbook.com/   recently published by University of Chicago Press and available online or at The Newham Bookshop. John can be contacted at author@redatlasbook.com