When I lived in the sailors' home... and a few broken plates
Contributed by Norbert_Lanfranco on Aug. 2, 2017
I lived in the sailor home, Dock St, in '57, moved to the Hearts of Oak pub,
Dock St. In Ensign St, corner of the Highway, my landlord was a Maltese man,
Mr Sapiro... when drunk he used to throw plates and pots out the first-floor
window into the Highway. I hope it brings you a bit of history!
Photograph of bollards marking site of Royal Brunswick Theatre, 1964
Contributed by Survey of London on Dec. 19, 2016
These iron bollards, which survive, are marked RBT for Royal Brunswick
Theatre, which stood, briefly (1828), on the west side of Ensign Street (then
Well Street). Like its predecessor, the Royalty Theatre (1787-1826) it was
destroyed by fire. The image is a digitised colour slide from the Tower
Hamlets Archives collection:
Brief history of a 'Maritime Establishment'
Contributed by Survey of London on Aug. 31, 2017
Built in 1830-5 facing Ensign Street as the Brunswick Maritime Establishment,
the early sailors' home formerly on this site was extended to Dock Street in
1863-5. The hostel was purposed to ‘encourage habits of decorum, economy, and
self-cultivation, and to contribute in educating [seamen] as missionaries of
Commerce to the ends of the earth’ (Shipping and Mercantile Gazette, 24 May
1872). Still operating successfully by the middle of the twentieth century,
the hostel was known as the Sailors’ Home and Red Ensign Club and could
accommodate 235 men at any one time. Serving many hundreds of thousands of
seamen over the years, it was part of a network of hostels and lodging houses
which catered for the East End’s mariners, conveniently located for access to
employment through the ‘pool’. The Home was rebuilt in the 1950s to designs by
Brian O’Rorke and Colin Murray which were intended to upgrade facilities and
ensure its relevancy, but in fact financial difficulties dogged the hostel
until its eventual demise in 1974, owing to changes in the maritime trade.
Presently the building is utilised as a backpacker’s hostel, Wombat’s.