30 Heritage Plaques for Forest Gate!

Friday 20 October 2017

London’s famous blue plaques link the people of the past with the buildings of the present. The scheme is now run by English Heritage (EH) and was started in 1866. It is thought to be the oldest of its kind in the world.

Before EH took over responsibility, it was run by three bodies in succession – the (Royal) Society of Arts, the London County Council and the Greater London Council. 

To be awarded an official English Heritage plaque, the proposed recipient must have died at least twenty years previously. EH look to place the plaques on buildings that have survived and are associated with the person commemorated.

There are currently over 900 plaques across London, but only two in Newham (on a pro rata basis, it would be nearer 30).

Two existing, English Heritage Blue plaques in Newham

The Newham two are to: Stanley Holloway - the actor and humorist (1890 - 1982) - at 25 Albany Road, Manor Park, for Wiki entry, see here and Will Thorne - the trade union leader and former MP (1857 - 1946) - at 1 Lawrence Road, Plaistow, for wiki entry, see here.

Stanley Holloway
 (1857 - 1946)
Stanley Holloway -
25 Albany Road, Manor Park

Will Thorne
(1857 - 1946)
Will Thorne - 1 Lawrence Road, Plaistow

Many local authorities, in London and outside, operate their own schemes to complement the English Heritage scheme.

Newham's own scheme

Newham Council launched its own heritage plaque scheme - with some panache - in October 2016, as part of the borough's inaugural Heritage Awareness Week.

The council announced its intention to erect "blue plaques for places that commemorate a link with people or a green one that highlights places and events of historical value". The scheme is designed to be less restrictive about how long the person it remembers lived there, or how long since they have died (if at all), than the national scheme.

Unfortunately, the Council only appears to have identified two appropriate locations in the year since - one in Ladysmith Avenue, East Ham, for former West Ham United manager Charlie Paynter (see here, for details), and the second in Montpelier Gardens - also East Ham - to commemorate Alan Beckett, who played a key engineering role in making the 1944 Normandy Landings a success (see here). None has been erected in the last nine months.

In the spirit of raising heritage awareness and a desire to see the scheme succeed, we hereby nominate 30 plaquesfor the Forest Gate area, to celebrate people and places in the area.

Below we provide details of 30 locations - split between the council's definitions of buildings suitable for blue plaques and those suitable for green ones. In the list that follows, we provide a photograph of the location, a brief description of the person or event associated with the building and a hyperlink to a more detailed article about the person or building, on this website.

Nominations  will be considered by a heritage panel. If you have a suggestion for one in the Forest Gate area, contact:020 3373 0856 or email CN.Forestgate@newham.gov.uk

The list below has been sent to the heritage panel, and we will keep you posted on their deliberations!

Proposed Blue Plaques


Imamia Mission, 328 Romford Road - home of John Curwen (1816 - 1890), founder and populariser of Tonic  Sol Fa music teaching system. See here, for details.

John Curwen (1816 - 1890)
John Curwen -
328 Romford Road

 385 Romford Road - childhood home of Ronnie Lane (1946 - 1997), bass guitarists of the Small Faces and Faces. See here, for details.

Ronnie Lane (1946 - 1997)
Ronnie Lane -
385 Romford Road

Gate by Percy Ingles, Woodgrange Road - Upper Cut Club - Jimi Hendrix (1942 - 1970) wrote Rolling Stone magazine's '4th greatest rock song of all time', Purple Haze while waiting to appear at the Upper Cut club, on 26 December 1966. See here, for details.

Jimi Hendrix, who
 wrote Purple Haze
 on Boxing Day 1966,
 while waiting to appear
 at the Woodgrange
 Road, Upper Cut venue

Site of Upper Cut Club today,
 on Woodgrange Road


335 Romford Road - Wag Bennett's gym and house . Temporary home (1966) to 'Mr Universe' , actor and American politician, Arnold Schwarzenegger (1947- ). See here, for details.

Arnold Schwarzenegger ( 1947 - ??)

Arnold Schwarzenegger
 - 335 Romford Road

Clapton FC ground Upton Lane(home of Clapton FC since 1888). Walter Tull (1888 - 1918), one of Britain's earliest and most successful footballers and later first black-British born army officer launched his football career here. See here, for details.

Clapton FC, Upton Lane,
 where Walter Tull first
 rose to football prominence

Walter Tull (1888 - 1918)
 one of Britain's most
successful, early black
 footballers and first black
 commissioned officer
 in British Army


14 Sherrard Road - birthplace and childhood home of William Walter Busby (1891 - 1916), awarded the Military Cross for gallantry on the first day of the Battle of the Somme 1 July 1916, when he was killed. See here, for details.
William Walter
Busby MC
(1891 - 1916)

William Walter Busby
- 14 Sherrard Road

58 Claremont Road - birthplace of Lieutenant George Drewry (1884 - 1918) Awarded  Victoria Cross for conspicuous acts of bravery during the Gallipoli landings, 1915. See here, for details.

George Drewry
 (1884 - 1918)

George Drewry - 58 Claremont Road

Literature and entertainment

43 Cranmer Road - childhood home of British cinema great, Bryan Forbes (1926 - 2013). See here, for details.

Bryan Forbes (1926 - 2013)

Bryan Forbes -
43 Cranmer Road

Dacre Lodge, 49 Plashet Road - childhood home of celebrated lesbian author, Mary Renault (1905 - 1983). See here, for details. 

Mary Renault (1905 - 1983)

Mary Renault - 49 Plashet Road

287 Upton Lane - childhood home of Dame Anna Neagle (1904 - 1984) - born Florence Marjorie Robertson. See here, for details.

Anna Neagle (1904 - 1984)

Anna Neagle - 287 Upton Lane


7 Sprowston Road - Home of Newham North West MP Tony Banks (1942 - 2006), later Lord Banks of Stratford. See here, for details.

Tony Banks (1942 - 2006)
Tony Banks -
7 Sprowston Road

15 Curwen Avenue - Home of Charles Mowbray, "anarchist-communist" and organiser of West Ham's unemployed in first decade of 20th century.  See here, for details.

Charles Mowbray
(1857 - 1910)

Charles Mowbray -
15 Curwen Avenue


198 Romford - former home of Jane Yorke (1872 - 1953?), the last person convicted in England under the 1735 Witchcraft Act. See here, for details.

Jane Yorke (1872 - 1953?)
 198 Romford Road

Red House, Upton Lane - Grade 11 Listed building and former home of George Tutill (1817 - 1887), Britain's most prominent trade union banner manufacturer. See here for details.
George Tutill's house - The Red
House, Upton Lane, today
 a Catholic social club
George Tutill (1817 - 1887),
 Britain's most prominent
trade union banner manufacturer

Cedar House, The Portway - residence of prisoner reformer, Elizabeth Fry (1780 -1845). See here, for details.

Elizabeth Fry (1780 - 1840)

Army House, the Portway -
on the site of Elizabeth Fry's
 Cedar House residence

206 The Portway, site of home of Gustav Pagenstecher (1829 - 1916), the driving force behind the establishment of West Ham Park. See here, for details.

Gustav Pagenstecher -
 206 The Portway
Gustav Pagenstecher
(1829 - 1916)

Gates of West Ham Park, Upton Lane - formerly Ham House and grounds and home to celebrated botanist John Forthergill (1712 - 1780) and philanthropist and local landowner, banker and philanthropist, Samuel Gurney (1766 - 1856). We will provide short biographies of these two men in future posts on this website.

John Fothergill - 1712 - 1780
Samuel Gurney - 1766 - 1856

John Fothergill and Samuel Gurney
- West Ham Park gates

Joseph Lister Court, Upton Lane - formerly Upton House and home of Lord Joseph Lister (1827 - 1912), father of modern antiseptic. See here, for details.

Joseph Lister (1827 - 1912)

Joseph Lister Court -
303 Upton Lane, on the site
of Joseph Lister's former home

Proposed Green Plaques

Music and entertainment

Cherubim and Seraphim church, Earlham Grove - site of Earlham Hall, home of Tonic Sol Fa music system (1897 - 1940's). See here, for details.

Tonic Sol Fa music system (1897 - 1940's)

Tonic Sol Fa music
 system - Cherabim
 and Seraphim church,
 Earlham Grove

Poundland, Woodgrange Road - site of Lotus club (1962 - 2001). See here, for details.

A 1967 advert for
a Lotus Club gig
Poundland, Woodgrange Road
 - site of Lotus Club

Superdrug, Romford Road - formerly Princess Alice pub, site of first ever Rock Against Racism (1976 - 1982) gig, 12 November 1976. See here, for details.

Rock Against Racism
 (1976 - 1982)
Superdrug, Romford/
Woodgrange Road
 junction - birthplace of
 Rock Against Racism

302 Romford Road, today - site of Queen's Cinema, (According to Bryan Forbes : "The Westminster Abbey" - of local cinemas) Forest Gate, bombed 21 April 1941. See here, for details.

Queen's cinema, 'The
 Westminster Abbey' of
local cinemas, Romford Road

302 Romford Road, today
 - site of the former Queen's cinema

Historic buildings

Old Spotted Dog - Upton Lane, Newham's oldest secular building, dating back to c 1500. See here, for details.

Old Spotted Dog, today - site of
 Newham's oldest secular building
 - in a very poor, semi-derelict state

Pawnbrokers' Almshouses, Woodgrange Road (1849 - 1897). See here, for details.

Pawnbrokers' Almshouses
 (1849 - 1897), Woodgrange Road

By co-incidence, a
pawnbroker's shop partially occupies the old almshouses, today, on Woodgrange Road

Adler Court, Earlham Grove - site of West Ham synagogue (1911 - 2004), once the largest in Essex. See here, for details.

West Ham synagogue (1911 - 2004),
 Earlham Grove

Adler Court, Earlham
 Grove, today - on
 the site of the former
 West Ham synagogue

Gladys Dimson House, Forest Lane - site of Forest Gate Industrial school, scene of tragic death of 26 pupils on 1 January 1890, and later Newham Maternity hospital. See here, for details.

Gladys Dimson House today - site of 1890 fire
 at Forest Gate Industrial school, killing 26 pupils

Trebor Factory, Katherine Road, Confectionery maker - Forest Gate's most successful  factory,  (1907 - 1981). See here, for details.

311 Katherine Road, site of the old
 Trebor confectionery factory (1907 - 1981)
 - now loft apartments

Woodgrange Pharmacy, Woodgrange Road - site of Eagle and Child pub and approximate location of the Forest Gate, from which the area takes its name. See here, for details.

Woodgrange Pharmacy on
 site of the old Eagle and
 Child pub, which itself
 was close to the old Forest Gate
The Forest Gate, from which the
 area takes its name, c 1850

E&S Superstore, Woodgrange Road - site of Forest Gate's first chapel and school (1830 - 1874), and later Reform club, cinema and a range of retail outlets. See here, for details.

Forest Gate's first chapel and
 school (1830 - 1874) at junction
 of Woodgrange Road and
 Forest Lane

Modern use of the former chapel
 and school on Woodgrange Road, today

Forest Glen pub - Dames Road. Early 20th century headquarters of Forest Gate Cycling Club, active at a peak time in the history of recreational cycling, and when Forest Gate boasted 14 bike manufacturers.  See here and here for details.

Forest Glen pub - home of
early 20th century Forest
Gate Cycling Club
Forest Gate Cycling Club,
 sign from approx 1897


  1. There was a plaque on the gates of the former Upper Cut Club. It was removed recently by the new owners of the site Mura Estates

  2. There is a memorial stone in the wall of the mosque recording J Curwen. It is rather neglected, but I think it would be preferable to reinstate it than to create a new style plaque.


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