Whitechapel High Street

Whitechapel High Street in 1861
Contributed by amymilnesmith on July 17, 2016

John Hollingshead, Ragged London in 1861, London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1861.

"There are many different degrees of social degradation and unavoidable poverty, even in the east. Whitechapel, properly so called, may not be the worst of the many districts in this quarter; but it is undoubtedly bad enough. Taking the broad road from Aldgate Church to old Whitechapel Church, a thoroughfare, in some parts, like the high street of an old-fashioned country town, you may pass on either side about twenty narrow avenues, leading to thousands of closely-packed nests, full to overflowing with dirt, and misery, and rags. Many living signs of the inner life behind the busy shops are always oozing out on to the pavements and into the gutters; for all children in low neighbourhoods that are not taken in by the ragged and other charity schools are always living in the streets: they eat in the streets what little they get to eat, they play in the streets in all weathers, and sometimes they have to sleep in the streets. Their fathers and mothers mope in cellars or garrets; their grandfathers or grandmothers huddle and die in the same miserable dustbins (for families, even unto the third and fourth generation, have often to keep together in these places), but the children dart about the roads with naked, muddy feet; slink into corners to play with oyster-shells and pieces of broken china, or are found tossing halfpennies under the arches of a railway. The local clergy, those who really throw themselves heart and soul into the labour of educating these outcasts, are daily pained by seeing one or more drop through into the great pit of crime; and by feeling that ragged schools are often of little good unless they can give food as well as instruction, and offer the children some kind of rude probationary home."

Whitechapel Gallery and adjoining shops, looking north, August 2017
Contributed by Derek Kendall

Whitechapel High Street and the hay market, c. 1895
Contributed by Aileen Reid

Whitechapel High Street and Aldgate Place, August 2019
Contributed by Derek Kendall

83 to 87 Whitechapel High Street, August 2017
Contributed by Derek Kendall

Small-scale survivals in Whitechapel High Street
Contributed by Derek Kendall

90 to 137 Whitechapel High Street from the south east, August 2017
Contributed by Derek Kendall

Newsreel offcuts showing 117 to 137 Whitechapel High Street in 1958

This collection of unused (silent) newsreel footage of London includes, at 6.03 to 6.51 on the YouTube timer, an atmospheric view, taken from Gardiner's Corner at the junction of Whitechapel High Street, Leman Street (on the left, with the Old Red Lion public house at No 29 just visible, where the south entrance to Aldgate East tube station can be seen) and Commercial Street (just out of shot to the right). The text accompanying the footage gives a date of 1963 but it must be late 1958 or early 1959. Trolley buses ceased running in London in May 1962 but the most telling evidence is 117 and 118 High Street, the two houses in the middle of the shot sporting a SOLD sign. They were shortly to be demolished for a new Woolworth's store that was under contruction in 1959 and opened in March 1960. It was, in turn, demolished c. 2003 along with 119 and 120 Whitechapel High Street (the next two houses to the west) and the Seven Stars public house for the Relay House development on the whole site.

Contributed by Aileen Reid on Sept. 9, 2016

Brief glimpse of Gardiner's Corner and Whitechapel High Street in 1924

This silent film about the Regent's Canal includes a brief panning shot (at 2.11 to 2.24 on the YouTube timer) of the south side of Whitechapel High Street, from Gardiner's Corner (on the Aldgate Place site) to the parish church of St Mary Matfelon (now Altab Ali Park).

Contributed by Aileen Reid on Sept. 12, 2016