Please see the opening paragraphs of last week's blog - immediately under this - for the rationale for running these pieces.
And - if you have memories relating to any of the articles that have appeared on this website, we'd be delighted to hear from you (by name, or anonymously). Simply type away in the 'Comments' section at the end of each article.
The rise and decline of Forest Gate's Jewish community
Original article link: here, date:20 November 2013
This is one of the site's most visited posts and has certainly provoked the largest number or recollections from visitors. Below are edited highlights of a number of them. A visit to the original posting on : xxxx is highly recommended for more detailed memories.
My grandparents, aunts, my mother, a cousin, my father all lived in Forest Gate. Three or more marriages at Earlham Grove shul 1933 - 1961. There were many that had moved from Whitechapel. Granddad worked as a presser and in the evenings finished suits that were sold in a shop in Green Street... It was all tough work. My mother told me she remembered in the late 1930's coming across graffiti: "All Jews are rich". This was far from the truth.
|Earlham Grove synagogue|
I grew up in Forest Gate and remember my childhood with fondness. When we moved to Forest Gate from Clapton the Earlham Grove Synagogue was full to capacity over the Jewish New Year and we had to use the Youth Services building. The Simchat torah party was very lively. My mother was on the ladies guild and I used to go with her to prepare for the party. I remember buttering so many bridge rolls. Laying the tables for 200 and a lady called Big Bloomah scared the life out of me. The parents association always took the kids from the Hebrew classes out every summer, usually to Westgate, and we went to the Norfolk Hotel for lunch. They were good times, never to be repeated.
My father was caretaker at this Synagogue from 1961 - 1963. I was only a five month old baby when my mum and dad moved here. I can remember it as if it was yesterday. Rabbi Shnider was so lovely, but Cantor Blackman wasn't very nice. There were 2 Irish sisters who helped my dad with the upkeep of the 2 shuls, 1 hall and the grounds. I remember the children coming into the Hall for lunch. There was a school over the road from the Synagogue, and a men's gym in the basement of one of the buildings.
I grew up in Forest Gate my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins were all members. I remember some very happy times going to the synagogue for the Sabbath, High Holidays and Hebrew classes... I of course remember Rabbi Waller, who was a wonderful teacher, Rev Schneider, Mr Woolf, Mr Weinburg, Mr Barnett all the committee and Ladies Guild. The most upsetting thing was when the fire burned it down.
5. P Shapiro
I grew up in Green Street, but my best friend lived in Earlham Grove and my sister married a man from Earlham Grove and got married in that shul. Back in the 50's and 60's it was a very close community. There were several kosher shops and a large Jewish population who had moved from the East End. I used to attend the Youth Club, which was held in the shul hall. A reunion a few years ago brought back many memories. From Stratford Grammar School in Upton Lane, my friends and I went to Kosher dinners at the shul too. They were not very good, but oh! that jam and coconut tart! My mother had a stall in Queen's Road Market, down Green Street. Recently that was saved from redevelopment. It is now called "Queen's Market" and there is a support group. Nobody had a car in my family and I remember very clearly the long hikes between Oakdale Road and Earlham Grove, which seemed a never ending length! Happy days.
Fascists in 1930's Forest Gate
Original article link: here, date:16 April 2014
A number of posts on this site have provoked family recollections or stirred an interest in delving into family history. This one provoked one of the most painful stirrings (see second comment below).
I remember Higgs the furriers extremely well and used to go past it on my way to school in the 1960's. I had no idea of its links to British Fascism. I know the wife of the Jewish landlord we had kept her furs there, so perhaps she didn't know of the link either.
|471 Romford Road - from fascist furrier's|
to Islamic charity shop, in one generation!
2. Kate Higgs
James William Higgs was my great grandfather and although I know he was a racist and an eccentric, I had no idea about his fascist history!! I'm completely shocked and unsettled by what I have just learnt. Especially as I was brought up by his grandson in the complete opposite way - to stand up for human rights, equality and to respect others religious beliefs - which I am so incredibly grateful for. This has inspired me to learn more about my family history and to write it down for the future generations. If anyone out there has information on (or photos) of my great grandfather (nicknamed Jimmy) and the shop Higgs Furriers please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org I'd be so grateful! Thank you for putting the information up.
Kenny Johnson and the Lotus Club
Original article link: here, date:17 September 2014
1. Eddie Johnson (Kenny's brother)
It might interest people to know that Norman Arsonsohn, the owner of the former skating rink that found renewed fame as the 'Upper Cut' first approached me about what to do with the premises. I passed him to my brother, Kenny, who was enthusiastic about opening a rock venue, he produced detailed plans for Aronsohn and it was a cause of much angst when a deal with the Walker brothers was signed and they seemed to follow Kenny's plan, probably given to them by Norman Aronsohn. Aronsohn was a shadowy figure in the world of high finance and it was often said that he was the 'Mr X' behind many of George Walker's schemes.
|Kenny Johnson, in the cloakroom|
of the Lotus club, 1960's
Forest Gate's proud suffragette legacy
Original article link: here, date:6 March 2015
1. Jean Bodie
I am trying to research old 'Granny Baldock' for whom my mother worked as a young girl when she lived in Hamworthy. Minnie Baldock lived across the street from us when she was old and we were afraid of her because she wore long black dresses and we thought she was a witch. It was my mother who told us that she had been a suffragette when she was a younger woman. Now that I am older too, I am pleased that I knew her, despite the fact that as a kid I went scrumping on her property.
|Minnie Baldock, c 1908|
I'm wondering if she sold the land (in Poole) to the Labour Club, or they were sponsoring her to live at 73 Rockley Road, where the Labour Club was built. I just cannot remember when it was built; do you know?
Forest Gate short-changed
Original article link: here, date:20 May 2015
|Cllr Rohima Rahman - still missing,|
but not collecting £6,000 for it.
1. John Walker (posted two months after a critical article attacking the inaction of Cllr Rohima Rahman as the Mayor's "Advisor" on Forest Gate, at £6,679 per year).
We are delight to report that Cllr Rahman has now been replaced, without public comment, by Robin Wales as his Forest Gate Advisor. The new post-holder is Forest Gate North councillor, Rachel Tripp.
Turning the Pages of history
Original article link: here, date:27 May 2015
1. (Cllr) John Gray
I have lived around the corner from the rocket impact for 26 years and never knew about it.
|A V1 rocket, of the kind that hit Dames Road|
I lived in Bective Road through the war, Page was our local shoe mender. I also remember the V1 incident vividly. It was a sunny day, we children were all playing in the gardens, our mothers all chatting over the fences, when suddenly someone shouted. There above us was the V1, it passed us as we scrambled into the Anderson shelters. It hit the top of a large Sycamore tree in Gobbells Bakery, breaking the top off, carrying on to Dames Road, where the damage was caused. Although we had little damage in our road, we had plenty of real scares, with a prisoner of war camp a few yards away, our mothers were always on edge.
3. Brian Arthur
I was born in Pevensey Road in 1948 and my mother spoke about the doodlebug hit on the trolleybus. They eye-witness account really conveys the full horror of the event, which would have been hushed up at the time. Before the new houses were built, opposite the Holly Tree pub, an infants schools occupied the site, which I attended. Half of the playground was still a bomb site when I was there and I remember playing on it - great fun for a little boy!
Forest Gate's role in WW1, the Hammers battalion (1)
Original article link: here, date:5 June 2015
William Busby was my great-grand-uncle.... Thank you for posting such interesting pictures and stories about the men. It was wonderful to see the homes of the Page and Holthusen families as they are now. We live in the United States and I've been researching Forest Gate/William's life, your blog has been wonderful to learn about Forest Gate, then and now.
|William Busby - hero then,|