Shapla Primary School

1983-5, primary school

The Danish Consulate
Contributed by David Charnick on March 9, 2018

To supply the major rebuilding campaign following the Great Fire of London in September 1666, timber was imported from the great pine forests of Scandinavia. This inspired the developer Nicholas Barbon to create Marine (later Wellclose) Square primarily for Danish-Norwegian timber merchants, who were said to have warmed themselves comfortably by the Great Fire. Laid out from the 1680s, this was his only major project in East London. In 1767 the German-Norwegian brothers Georg and Ernst Wolff moved their timber trading firm to 21 Wellclose Square, extending it next door to No 20. Ernst was to produce a Danish-Norweigan dictionary, a ready-reckoner for timber pricing, and a history of the Danish Church, which stood at the centre of the Square until it was demolished to make way for the school established in connection with the Church of St Paul, Dock Street.

In 1787 Georg became the Danish-Norwegian consul. Being a practical man, he undertook his consular duties from his business address at 20-21 Wellclose Square, which was decorated in 1796 with two Coade stone reliefs depicting the arts and sciences. Georg retired from the consulate in 1804 and his son Jens took over until the consulate was closed in 1807. The building survived until 1968, when it was demolished as part of the wholesale demolition of Wellclose Square. The Coade stone reliefs were removed and transferred to the Norwegian Embassy in Belgrave Place, Belgravia, where they can still be seen decorating the main entrance. The Shapla School now stands on the site of the Danish Consulate.

Demolished buildings on the east side of Ensign Street, 1964
Contributed by Survey of London on Dec. 19, 2016

A view west to Grace's Alley in 1964, showing demolished buildings on the site of Shapla Primary school and the former Brunswick Maritime Establishment sailors' home beyond, from the Tower Hamlets Archives collection:

Site of former Rio Cafe, October 2017
Contributed by Shahed Saleem

The Rio Cafe (on the right)
Contributed by Numbi Arts

Map showing the Rio club on Grace's Alley and Ensign Street, before demolition
Contributed by Numbi Arts

20-21 Wellclose Square, Danish Consulate
Contributed by David Charnick