In the early 1880s Simon Cohen (sometimes Simha Becker), a pastry cook across the road at 32 Church Lane, used a house on the site of No. 19 as a refuge for homeless Jewish immigrants. He named it the Poor Jews’ Temporary Shelter shortly before it was closed down as unsanitary in early 1885. That prompted fundraising which permitted the establishment to move, first to 12 Great Garden Street then to 84 Leman Street. Other premises continued to be used as ad hoc refuges or lodging houses. In late 1885 a Shelter employee took five immigrants from Brest-Litovsk to 11 Church Lane, then occupied by Paul Meczyk, a printer, only for them to be turned out on to the street.
By 1891, in which year he fell out with the Shelter Committee, Cohen had converted the house at No. 19 to be a ‘Beth Hamedresh’ (study circle and synagogue). He acted as his own builder and carried out further works in 1895–6.
But this did not last. In 1898–9 Jacob King redeveloped the site along with 9 Manningtree (formerly Colchester) Street. Arthur C. Payne was the architect and H. W. Brown the builder of a house above a factory and office, brick (now painted) with keystones over the windows and shaped gables, one since replaced. Bender & Co., leather merchants, were in occupation in 1900.1
District Surveyors Returns: Metropolitan Board of Works Minutes, 11 Dec 1885, p.875: London County Council Minutes, 24 June 1890, p. 564; 4 Oct and 1 Nov 1898, pp. 1061, 1249: London Metropolitan Archives, LMA/4184; LMA/4184/2/1/1; LMA/4184/2/5/1/3: Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives, Building Control File 41972: Post Office Directories ↩