Aldgate Tower

Offices, constructed 2006-2014, designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects with One Arup & Partners International Ltd | Part of Whitechapel High Street south side

Aldgate Tower
Contributed by Survey of London on Aug. 15, 2019

The Greater London Council’s sale package for Gardiner’s Corner in 1978 required the refurbishment of 23–26 Whitechapel High Street, which included the eighteenth-century former Talbot Inn. But this did not happen. Instead the Sedgwick Group put up a four-storey office building on that site in 1982 above the basements that extended from the Sedgwick Centre eastwards. In 1986 the Group secured planning permission for a ten-storey building up to the Leman Street corner at No. 30, not acted upon but renewed twice in the 1990s. After Tishman Speyer’s acquisition of the Gardiner’s Corner properties in 2001, plans were significantly revised for what was dubbed Aldgate Union, the developers operating as TST Aldgate Holdings LLC. A wholly glass-faced project intended extension, recladding and refurbishment of the Sedgwick Centre (to be 1 Aldgate Union) and a linked seventeen-storey office tower to its east (2 Aldgate Union). Wilkinson Eyre Architects Ltd prepared designs, working with Ove Arup & Partners International Ltd as engineers. Remaining old buildings at Nos 27–30 were cleared around 2004 and in 2006–7 Tishman Speyer Properties revised the scheme in connection with plans for land further east (see below) and changes to road patterns that the developers perceived to be necessary. This backdrop was a reorganisation of the Gardiner’s Corner traffic system of the 1960s, or the Aldgate Gyratory as it had become. That was abandoned in 2008, Whitechapel High Street being made two-way again, with Braham Street freed up for the formation of a park that opened in 2010, its east end available for speculative development. The road link between the High Street and Leman Street was reopened. First work on the development site was a modest canopied entrance to Aldgate East Station at the Leman Street corner, up by 2006.

Progress stalled as Tishman Speyer sold to the Royal Bank of Scotland which sold to Morgan Stanley Real Estate Funds. Aldgate Tower Developments Ltd was formed in 2011 to take the project onwards, continuing to work with Wilkinson Eyre and Arup. Refurbishment of the existing building was separated and the eighteen-storey office block that is Aldgate Tower was built in 2013–14 by Brookfield Multiplex, with Severfield as steelwork contractor. The presence of the basements of the 1980s below a concrete raft was a significant constructional constraint. There could be no concrete core, standard for most such towers, so steel framing and metal decking were adopted. The block’s sleek glassiness would seem more intrusive on Whitechapel High Street were it not for the more rebarbative forms of the contemporary Redrow block across the road. The entrance to Aldgate East Station aside, the building gives little to the street.1


  1. Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives, Building Control file 26853: Estates Gazette, 29 May 2005: Architects Journal Supplement, 2015, pp.10–11: Tower Hamlets planning applications online 

early development at 2–14 Leman Street
Contributed by Survey of London on May 6, 2020

The first late seventeenth-century building on the Red Lion Street site that became 2–4 Leman Street adjoined the south side of the Red Lion Inn. It may have survived until the mid-nineteenth century when it was replaced with two three-storey and attic houses of one-room plan. These were occupied by hairdressers, coffee rooms, and an ironmonger in following decades. Joseph Moshinsky, a tobacconist, redeveloped the site again in 1939. His utilitarian four-storey building accommodated a ground-floor shop with tailoring workshops and rag-trade wholesalers above. Nos 2–4 were cleared with 27–30 Whitechapel High Street around 2004 to make way for Aldgate Tower, 2 Leman Street, which went up across the wider site in 2013–14.1

Substantial livery stables at 6 Leman Street were accessed through an entryway under No. 8. Stables connected to the Red Lion Inn were on this site from at least the 1740s. After a rebuilding of the early 1840s, they were run by the Haylock family for several decades. A two-storey range ran behind Nos 8–10 parallel to another two-storey block with a wooden gallery. Nos 8–10 was a pair of eighteenth-century shophouses with two-room plans, of three storeys with cellars and gambrel roofs. In the 1850s and ’60s, No. 8 was occupied by Mark Joseph, a Dutch cheesemonger and provision dealer with a number of premises along Leman Street including No. 28. After alterations in 1871, hairdressers used No. 8 until the 1950s. No. 10 was the Star coffee rooms in the 1840s, remaining a café, then a fried-fish shop then a restaurant into the 1960s.2

No. 12 also gave access to a yard used as livery stables and engineer’s offices in the early nineteenth century. By 1874 the house and yard were leased to Browne & Eagle, who oversaw some rebuilding in 1911. It appears that No. 14 was united with No. 12 until around 1850–1, when a separate house was built on the site, returning to Nelson Street (later Beagle Street). Use by farriers, a veterinary surgeon and for a smithy followed. From the 1930s No. 14 was used for rag-trade manufacturing. Following war damage, the sites were not cleared until the 1960s to make way for the extension and widening of Braham Street in place of Beagle Street.3


  1. Richard Horwood's maps: Ordnance Survey (OS) maps: Goad insurance map, 1890: London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), District Surveyors' Returns (DSR); Collage 118836: Post Office Directories (POD) 

  2. Horwood: LMA, Land Tax Returns; Collage 118836: Goad 1890: OS: DSR: Census: POD 

  3. LMA, CLC/B/017/MS15627/024: OS: POD: DSR: Horwood: Census: Goad 1890: Bomb damage survey 1945 

Bike and battery shop
Contributed by eric on Nov. 28, 2016

Not this building, but when I lived in Aldgate at the age of  11 or so (1947) there was a wide pavement here along which I would walk to get a bus to school. There were shops all along this side of Whitechapel High Street, and I was sent on errands on one or two occasions. I do not remember the shop by name, but it sold bits for bicycles and provided a battery-charging service.

In our home nearby in Gower's Walk, we had an old radio, not mains-powered, but powered by a glass battery containing an acid of some sort and electrodes. I had to take the battery there and fetch it when charged.

On another occasion I had broken a ratchet in the free-wheel cog of my first adult bicycle, and I went to see if they had a spare one. My father told me to ask for a 'pawl', which was its proper engineering name. The shopkeeper didn't know what I was talking about, and I remember him asking 'do you want a pulley, sonny?'

Whitechapel High Street's south side up to the Second World War
Contributed by Survey of London on Aug. 15, 2019

Courts and alleys

Whitechapel High Street’s southern frontage was probably more or less built up in the sixteenth century before Stow reported ‘On the Southside of the high way from Ealdgate, were some few tenements thinly scattered, here & there, with many voyd spaces between them, up to the Bars, but now that street is not only fully replenished with building outward, & also pestered with diverse Allyes, on eyther side to the Barres, but to white Chappell and beyond.’1

By the late seventeenth century the diverse alleys were legion, many taking their names from the street’s numerous inns. They were generally built up with small cottages, also a few substantial houses, ostensibly domestic spaces being no doubt also in use for industrial purposes. From the later eighteenth century humble housing on courts and alleys gradually gave way to purpose- built commercial premises such as workshops or warehouses. Newly formed Pavement Commissioners for the High Street settled its numbering in August 1771. It has stayed essentially unchanged since. To account for the courts and alleys, running from west to east, it will help orientation to use that street numbering consistently, if sometimes anachronistically.2

By 1674 Irish Court was behind Nos 4–5, holding seven houses, two with seven and eight hearths. These were replaced with warehousing around 1780 and the court survived up to the 1940s when the area was bombed. White Hart Court Yard, behind No. 10 and two other eight-hearth properties on the High Street, had nineteen houses in the 1670s, one of twelve hearths pertaining to Elizabeth, Lady Mellowes (d. 1692), five others having eight and nine hearths. Eagle and Child Alley with seventeen one- to four-hearth houses in the 1670s later became Horns Yard or Court and was largely cleared in the 1790s. Half Moon Court, between Nos 17 and 18 and still enduring at its south end, held twenty-one houses in 1675, all of three hearths except that of Thomas Peake who had eleven hearths; by 1800 Half Moon Court was recorded as having only eleven small houses. Peacock Court had eighteen one- to six-hearth houses in the 1670s, but then disappears from reckonings. Elephant Court’s eight-hearth property was probably an eponymous inn, held in 1675 by ‘Lockworth & Cannon etc’, otherwise the place had just four two- and three-hearth houses. Twelve houses lasted into the 1750s on what became Elephant & Castle Court by 1841, not long before its demise. Swan Court or Yard lay between Nos 20 and 21 and had about twelve confined and back-less small houses through the eighteenth century up to 1874–5 when they were replaced with a Pickford’s goods and parcel depot. Red Lion Street intersected on the site of No. 31 from around 1685.

Continuing eastwards, by the 1670s Whittington’s Cat Alley was between Nos 34 and 35 with ten one- to three-hearth houses, close to Greyhound Alley, four one- and two-hearth houses, Tobacco Pipe Alley, three one- and two-hearth houses, and Window Alley, ten one- to four-hearth houses. Cock Alley appears to have been renamed or redeveloped in the late eighteenth century as Barley Mow Court, stitched in behind Nos 38–40 with five to eight small houses. Plough Alley, between Nos 44 and 45, had nineteen one- to four-hearth houses in the 1670s, but Plough Street replaced it around 1700. Baptist’s Head Alley, with seven one- to three-hearth houses, and Clarke Alley, seven one- and two- hearth houses, were recorded in the 1670s, apparently succeeded by Woolsack Alley and Darts Alley between Nos 47 and 48.

Drum Alley had twenty-one and King’s Head Alley nine one- and two-hearth houses in 1675. Drum Court or Yard between Nos 50 and 51 had ten small houses in 1790. Last Alley, with seventeen one- to six-hearth houses in the 1670s, appears to have become Dyers Yard between Nos 51 and 52 with only four small houses in 1800. Bull (or Bulke) Stake Alley, between Nos 58 and 59, where John James (d. 1661) led a congregation of Seventh Day Baptists, had eighteen one- to three-hearth houses in the 1670s, but only five houses in 1800. Finally, there was Hatchet Alley (later Spectacle Alley, now Whitechurch Passage), off which lay Adam and Eve Court.

Some of these houses, many of which would have been timber built and weatherboarded, survived into the twentieth century, as on the west side of Half Moon Passage where seven very small cottages stood behind No. 20 and in front of a brass foundry.3

Public houses

The names of the courts and alleys have given some indication of the High Street’s public houses, recorded here again from west to east. The Three Tuns was at 1 Whitechapel High Street by 1740. It was modestly rebuilt in brick in 1922–3 to plans by William Stewart, architect, for Mann Crossman Paulin of the Albion Brewery. It came down in the 1960s.4

The White Hart, on the site of Nos 9–10, was present by the 1670s and may well have had much earlier origins. To its rear was the largest and longest-lived inn yard on this side of the High Street, comprehending not just stabling but once also many dwellings with some substantial houses (see above). To the front there was a five-bay eighteenth-century building with a central pediment. The pub, sometimes the White Hart and Three Tobacco Pipes, appears to have closed before 1800, after which the White Hart name settled on the other side of the High Street. The Mercers Company owned both the High Street’s White Hart properties. James Spalding (d. 1780) took No. 9 by 1750 as premises for a grocery and tea-dealing business that became Spalding, Clarence and Millikin after he was joined by William Clarence and Halley Benson Millikin (_c._1750–1826). Its large back warehouse was built in the 1780s, possibly also the date of the front range. Spalding was a partner in sugar- refining businesses and Millikin was himself a sugar refiner elsewhere after 1800.5 Peter Simmonds, who had been the White Hart’s last innholder, carried on as a keeper of livery stables in the yard. These continued into the 1850s, followed by a wholesale provisioning depot up to the 1880s. The pedimented front range survived in reconstructed form up to the 1960s.6

The Horns at No. 16, possibly preceded thereabouts by the Eagle and Child in the late seventeenth century, appears to have been established around 1836 by James Thomas Reynolds in what would then have been a new building. It continued till the 1920s.7

The White Swan Inn (later just the Swan) at No. 20 was present by the eighteenth century and into the 1920s. The Elephant and Castle at No. 23, likely to have had early origins further west, closed in the 1860s, but had a second life, reappearing from the 1950s to the early 1980s. The Talbot Inn, at No. 25 by the 1690s, was a large establishment in a six-bay four-storey and attic eighteenth-century building. It closed sometime after 1810 and William Coates & Co., City wine merchants, took the premises around 1825. Coates & Co. extended to the Elephant and Castle and rebuilt Nos 22–23 in 1869–71 with James Harrison as their architect, erecting extensive warehousing to the rear. For a time Nos 22–23 were Frederick King’s retail wine stores, but the group at Nos 22–26 continued as W. Coates & Co., then Percy Fox Ltd, all the while wine stores. Retention and refurbishment of the front buildings at Nos 24–26 was intended in 1978, but demolition ensued in the early 1980s.8

The Red Cow Inn at No. 26 was a short-lived establishment of the eighteenth- century’s middle decades. Next east at No. 30, later No. 29, was the Red Lion, an inn of much greater longevity that was acquired and rebuilt in 1682–5 to allow formation of the eponymous street through its site. It was in 1810 the birthplace of William John Little (1810–1894), son of John and Hannah Little, the pub’s proprietors. Afflicted with a club foot from infancy, Little rose to renown as an orthopaedic surgeon. The pub was rebuilt for the last time in 1903 as the Old Red Lion,a big blowsy corner boozer with ample architraving in four storeys. Its ground-floor front became an entrance to Aldgate East Station in 1937–8, but the pub continued through to the 1990s and was only demolished around 2004.9

The Whittington & Cat at No. 35, of seventeenth-century or earlier origins, was cleared in the 1860s. No. 36 was the Bunch of Grapes Coffee House by 1760, converted to be a wine and brandy merchants by 1780. The Barley Mow was at No. 39 by 1730, but gone before the end of the century. The Hat & Plough was at No. 44 by 1760 and was raised in 1853 only to be displaced in 1874.10

The Cock existed as ‘the Cok’ in the late 1450s when Alice, who had been Simon Cok’s wife, went to law against Thomas Hosewyf, the property owner. It may have had its origins on a site further west, given the presence of Cock Alley, but by the 1830s it was at No. 45, east of Plough Street, where there had been a brandy merchant since before 1770. The Cock was rebuilt in 1872–3 extending back to 9 Commercial Road, to designs by W. W. Browne, architect, with Thomas Ennor as builder. F. Beger took an eighty-year lease and William Henry Price was the first licensee. It kept going into the 1920s and the building was not demolished until 2008.11

The King’s Head was on the site of No. 49, run by Thomas Redwood in 1730. It became the Yorkshire Gray in the 1740s and was rebuilt at Nos 48–49 in 1875, further alterations in 1884 being to plans by Wilson, Son & Aldwinckle. The Yorkshire Gray continued up to the early 1960s.12

The Bull and Stake, run by William Gibbons in 1730, was perhaps renamed the White Horse and Leaping Post, which was on the site of No. 58 by 1750. Later becoming the Horse & Leaping Bar, it was rebuilt in 1892–4 for and by Francis Gill, a publican and builder who had a run-in with the LCC, which enforced demolition of parts of his new building. The pub closed in the 1930s. Associated livery stables across Bull Stake Court at No. 59 were newly formed in 1815.13

Other early commerce

Through the eighteenth century the thoroughly commercial south side of Whitechapel High Street housed numerous butchers, grocers, cheesemongers and oil and colourmen. The notable clutch of butchery with slaughterhouses just outside the City boundary at Nos 2–7 was an extension of what was known as Butcher Row on the south side of Aldgate High Street, present by the late sixteenth century and continuing, though diminished, into the 1950s.14

Thomas Quarill, a substantial oil and colourman, a Paving Commissioner and Governor of the London Hospital, had significant premises at No. 11 by 1740 at which Luke Alder succeeded. Robert Buttery (_c._1710–1793) was a seedsman and corn chandler at No. 15 from the 1750s. After the death of his wife in 1773, he owned five High Street properties and land in Irish Court and retired to Hertfordshire. His premises were recast in the early nineteenth century.15

William Claxton, a china, pot and glass seller, had premises at No. 24 from the 1760s that were identified as a ‘Staffordshire Warehouse’ in 1800. Isaac Colnett (d. 1801) was a blacksmith, ironmonger and tiresmith at No. 27 from the 1750s.16

John Ellison, a druggist, was at No. 33 from the 1750s to his death in 1790. A large building went up for his successor, Jonathan Jordan. Redbourn Tomkins (_c._1711–1792), a Baptist and another hospital governor, was a successful tallow chandler at No. 42 from the 1740s.17

Francis Laurson (d. 1777), a scrivener who lived in West Ham, had offices at No. 51 by 1740 up to his death. He was succeeded by his clerk, William Argill, who was West Ham’s Vestry Clerk and who styled himself an attorney. The late- seventeenth- or early eighteenth-century three-storey brick house with a centre-staircase layout at No. 51 stood into the 1890s, weather-boarded and timber-framed on its return to Drum Yard.18

William Hamilton, an undertaker and Treasurer of the High Street’s Paving Commissioners, was at No. 54 in the mid eighteenth century. Henry Mowtlow (_c._1664–1740), a clock maker, whose surviving pieces fetch handsome sums, and parish clerk, had been at No. 56. Joseph Gwyn (d. 1773) was a carpenter and coachmaker at No. 60 from the 1740s.19

1–53 Whitechapel High Street: 1840s to 1930s

Parts of the south side of the High Street began to be sacrificed for the sake of better road circulation. Nos 31–34 were cleared in the 1840s for the widening of Red Lion Street as the north end of Leman Street, a crucial link in the road north from the docks that continued as Commercial Street. The resultant new major junction, also the middle of the Haymarket, had its centre marked in 1853 by an obelisk that had been a part of the Great Exhibition, purchased by the parish of Whitechapel.20

Nos 35–43 were cleared for the westwards extension of Commercial Road that was approved in 1865 and carried through in 1869–70. The junction was soon further transformed. Tramways tore up the road from 1888; electrification and overhead lines followed in 1906–7. The obelisk came down in 1913 and the Haymarket closed in 1928.21

Meanwhile numerous High Street properties were redeveloped. A shophouse rebuilding at No. 50 that appears to have escaped visual record, having been reconstructed in 1929, was lavished with unusual praise in 1858 in The Builder, a whole column’s worth, for avoiding the monotony of then standard Italianate dressings, instead favouring simple red-brick and functional dressings. The architect was the otherwise little-feted Charles Bennett Arding.22

Commercial Road’s extension opened up development ground east of the new junction, the triangular apex being taken in 1872 by Gardiner & Co., Glasgow clothiers and army contractors, for a department store, their first London branch, which opened in 1874 at 31–35 Whitechapel High Street and 1–5 Commercial Road. Hugh Hutchison Gardiner (c.1848–1921) owned the firm with his father and managed the store. Its architect was George Aitchison junior (Ills 45, 46). Gardiner’s secured a five-year contract to supply the Metropolitan Police and government dockyards with clothing, and continued to specialize in uniforms and children’s wear. Austerely classical, the shop was Whitechapel’s largest and the High Street’s dominant building for a century, giving the name Gardiner’s Corner to the junction. It was extended along Commercial Road and then in 1899 raised two storeys with a clock turret rising 130 feet, the top-heavy result wrecking Aitchison’s proportions. Designs were by John Wallis Chapman (1843–1915) with Holliday & Greenwood as builders. The business had expanded under new ownership. In 1878 the family firm was dissolved, Hugh Gardiner taking over the London operation. Two brothers joined him, then, in 1885, after other stores had opened in London and Birmingham, took over the Whitechapel store and a branch in Deptford as their own concern. This was acquired by J. W. and R. P. Coulter and incorporated in 1897 as Gardiner & Co. (The Scotch House) Ltd. The Scotch House name, seemingly applied initially to an Islington branch opened in 1889, extended to branches in Knightsbridge, Woolwich, Battersea and Marylebone. Closed in 1971, the Whitechapel store was destroyed by a spectacular fire in 1972.23

Immediately eastwards, No. 44 (formerly the Hat and Plough and keeping the old numbering) was redeveloped in 1874 as the Aldgate Turkish Baths, again with George Aitchison as architect. Run by James Forder and Henry Nevill, this followed on from an earlier establishment of theirs at London Bridge. Of four storeys and in line with Gardiner’s, it had one entrance for men on the High Street and another for women to the rear at 7 Commercial Road. It was a success and the firm opened other Turkish Baths, as at New Broad Street (Bishopsgate Churchyard) in 1895, which survives. From 1908 the chain of premises was incorporated as Nevill’s Turkish Baths Ltd and the Whitechapel establishment endured up to the Second World War. The building was demolished in the 1970s.24

Across Plough Court was the Cock (see above), also rebuilt in the 1870s, and then No. 46, rebuilt in 1883 for E. R. Goodrich to designs by John Hudson, architect, and extending to 11 Commercial Road at the back. Stepney Labour Exchange was here for a few years around 1910, moving to Nos 59–60 in the 1920s. No. 47 was rebuilt with 13 Commercial Road in 1921–2 as a factory for Sam and Joseph Hyman Tym, underclothing manufacturers. Nos 45–47 stood until 2008. Nos 51 and 52–53 were rebuilt in 1896–7 for F. G. Debenham and J. Nathan respectively. Harvey Dyball was the architect at No. 51, and Nos 52–53, intended as a shop and dwelling rooms, were soon taken by the St Ursula Working Girls’ Club.25

Returning to the west, Nos 11–14 and buildings behind on White Hart Yard were cleared for the formation of the Metropolitan and Metropolitan District Railway underground extension to Whitechapel in the early 1880s. The site, a short distance south-east of Aldgate East Station, was left open either side of an access bridge to ventilate the steam-powered railway below. Upon electrification of the line, Edwin Bell, a builder trading as Bell & Co., acquired the site and in 1907–9 developed it with Aldgate East Chambers, a broad six-bay and four-storey shop, office and workroom speculation with a central arch to maintain access to White Hart Yard. Undeterred by a fine for the use of poor-quality bricks, Bell introduced a ‘Bioscope Exhibition Room’ or cinema at No. 12 in 1910, extended to Nos 9–10 and 16 in 1909–11 and enlarged further to the rear for workshops and showrooms in 1913–15. Early tenants were mainly tailors and furriers, with a restaurant and the Scottish Sanitary Laundry alongside. The back buildings were destroyed and those to the front damaged by a bomb strike in the Second World War. No. 7 had been separately rebuilt with a gable front in 1907, to plans by W. A. Lewis for William Gower, a fishmonger. John Hawkins & Son, wholesale tea dealers and grocers, were at Nos 17–19 from the 1840s until clearance in the early 1960s, though by 1920 No. 19 had been given up to Jacob Levy, a cycle agent who soon branched into importing jazz records, sold from Levy’s at this address into the 1950s. No. 17 became a branch of Tesco Stores Ltd by 1960, shortly before clearance.26

Redevelopment at the High Street’s west end followed the widening of Mansell Street on its City side and the First World War. Nos 2–4 were rebuilt in two parts in 1922–3, at the same time as the adjoining Three Tuns (see above), as four-storey and attic rag-trade workshops for Scales & Leuw, meat salesmen, and Mrs Ray Mercado, a confectioner, with H. A. Porter as architect. There were additions in 1928 for Skolnick, Lipton and Guttridge Ltd, hosiery manufacturers, by when blouse-making and the London Board of Shechita were also housed. No. 6 was a shophouse with a billiard hall of 1923–4. Hosiery and millinery were strong presences here up to clearance in the 1960s.27

A boot and shoe warehouse at Nos 27–28 was sold at auction in 1920 and redeveloped to be a branch of Lloyd’s Bank in 1922–3, also occupied by the Sun Life Assurance Company. This was a restrained three-bay neo-Georgian building, a minor example of the stylishness brought to Lloyd’s Bank’s architecture by Horace Field. It was demolished around 2004.28


  1. John Stow, A Survey of London, 1603, ed. C. L. Kingsford, 1908, vol.1, p.127 

  2. Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives (THLHLA), L/SMW/C/2/1 

  3. William Morgan's map of 1682: John Rocque's map of 1746: Richard Horwood's maps of 1799 and 1813: The National Archives (TNA), hearth-tax returns 1674–5: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) sub James: London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), Land Tax Returns (LT); District Surveyors Returns (DSR); Collage 3455: Ancestry 

  4. Post Office Directories (POD): LMA, Collage 121852; LT; DSR 

  5. LMA, MR/LV/8/68; CLC/B/192/F/001/MS11936/360/556370; 11936/447/828725: LT: Mercers Company Archives, Dean Colet Estate Plans, 1821–3, plate 1; 1823–34, plate 33: Museum in Docklands, Shadwell portfolio, folder 7, sheet 3: information kindly supplied by Andrew Byrne: TNA, PROB11/1064/165: Bryan Mawer's sugar-refining database: LMA, Collage 121781 

  6. POD: Goad insurance maps: DSR: LMA, Collage 121852 

  7. LT: POD: information supplied by Stephen Harris 

  8. LT: POD: The Builder, 23 Oct 1869, p.854: DSR: Goad, 1887, 1924 and 1960: LMA, Collage 121843,167445; P93/MRY1/091, p.144; GLC/DG/PUB/01/28/U1622 

  9. TNA, C5/99/23; C7/58/2: LMA,MR/LV/6/79: LT: ODNB sub Little: DSR: POD 

  10. LMA, MR/LV/7/49; MR/LV/8/68: LT: POD 

  11. TNA, C1/26/357: LT: The Builder, 20 July 1872, p.574: DSR: POD: LMA, LMA/4673/D/09/02/002, f.51; Collage 121955: information supplied by Stephen Harris 

  12. DSR: The Builder, 3 May 1884, p.629: LT: POD 

  13. LT: LMA, MR/LV/05/026; MR/LV/06/079: THLHLA, P/HLC/1/14/6: POD: London County Council Minutes (LCC Mins), 28 Feb, 13–14 June and 3 Oct 1893, pp.200,613,649,930: information supplied by Stephen Harris 

  14. LT: POD: LMA, P93/MRY1/091, p.23: Historic England Archives, Mayson Beeton Collection J1001141: John Strype, A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, vol.1/2_, 1720, p.27: Daniel Defoe, _A Journal of the Plague Year, 1722 (edn 1969), p.171 

  15. LT: TNA, PROB11/1229/237: Hertfordshire Record Office, DE/B737/T42: General Evening Post, 14 March 1793: Derek Morris, Whitechapel, 2011, pp.58,143 

  16. TNA, PROB11/1357/258: LT 

  17. TNA, PROB11/1189/161: LT: Ancestry 

  18. LT: TNA, PROB11/1036/57: Public Advertiser, 15 Jan 1783: THLHLA, Building Control file 41778 

  19. TNA, PROB11/702/484; PROB11/984/309: LT: Antiques Trade Gazette, 2 Feb 2004: Morris, 2011, p.15 

  20. The Builder, 19 Feb 1853, p.116 

  21. Metropolitan Board of Works Minutes (MBW Mins), 10 Feb 1888, p.265: LMA, Collage 231467–8, 231472, 231494, 231498 

  22. The Builder, 11 Sept 1858, p.613: DSR 

  23. DSR: MBW Mins, 10 May 1872, p.676; 22 May 1874, p.632; 13 May 1881, p.790: TNA, ED27/3242: POD: Daily Telegraph and Courier, 23 April 1874: Glasgow Herald, 12 Nov 1874: Hampstead & Highgate Express, 7 Sept 1889: LCC Mins, 27 June 1899, p.950: Financial Times, 22 October 1904, 24 May 1976 

  24. MBW Mins, 1 April 1874, p.449: POD: The Globe, 15 April 1875: Malcolm Shifrin, Victorian Turkish Baths, 2015 

  25. DSR: POD: The Builder, 13 Jan. 1883, p.63: MBW Mins, 25 June 1880, p.898: THLHLA, Building Control file 41778: LMA, Collage 121954–5 

  26. Transport for London Group Archives, LT000612/030: DSR: POD: LCC Mins, 23 April and 18 June 1907, pp.842,1278; 11 Oct 1910, p.521: LMA, GLC/MA/SC/03/1336; Collage 121846,121852–4 

  27. DSR: Goad, 1924: LMA, Collage 121852: POD 

  28. DSR: POD: Estates Gazette, 21 Feb 1920, p.268: Timothy Brittain- Catlin, ‘Horace Field and Lloyds Bank’, Architectural History, vol.53, 2010, pp.271–94 

Gardiner's Corner reconstruction
Contributed by Survey of London on Aug. 15, 2019

Traffic was an abiding headache on Whitechapel High Street. It had been for centuries and the confluence of the Leman Street–Commercial Street axis with the west end of Commercial Road from the 1870s exacerbated problems on critical routes to and from the City, as always, and now also to and from the docks. The cessation of the Haymarket in 1928 reduced congestion, but unquestioning acceptance of predictions of growth in car usage and the wider contexts of highway planning soon came into play. The influential Royal Academy traffic plan for London of 1938 by Sir Charles Bressey and Sir Edwin Lutyens proposed three concentric ring roads, including an inner arterial ‘loopway’ round the City. This found its way into the _County of London Plan _of 1943 as an ‘A’ or inner (but sub-arterial) ring road with a great pentagonal roundabout at the strategically important intersection at Gardiner’s Corner. Already in 1941 Stepney Borough’s Engineer and Surveyor, B. W. Stuttle, had promulgated London’s first reconstruction plan for his borough, advocating the use of existing road networks, against the wider new network thrust of the County plan. After the war, the Ministry of Transport advanced plans for the ‘A’ ring road as arterial. The Gardiner’s Corner roundabout, now being drawn as a hexagon, was incorporated as a key element of the London County Council’s reconstruction scheme for the Stepney and Poplar Comprehensive Development Area.1

By 1952 the LCC’s Highways Committee had reshaped the roundabout to be an elongated rectangle, keeping somewhat to existing roads to reduce costs. Further revised by 1955 with a schematic model, this approach kept Whitechapel High Street intact, with Braham Street and Beagle Street widened to the south, the west end of Commercial Road diverted northwards through 50–54 High Street (and Drum Yard) for a short east end, and Mansell Street as the west end. By 1957 further parts of the war-damaged western part of the intended island (Nos 1–21) had been cleared. As CPOs were issued, zoning intentions were for future use here to mix warehousing, offices, light industry and shopping. In 1960 the LCC Architect’s Department under Hubert Bennett prepared schemes for three pedestrian subways: at the west end of the High Street; at the Red Lion for Aldgate East station; and at the new end of Commercial Road. These, with ramps as well as stairs, were to keep people on foot from slowing down traffic, though lip service was paid to safety. A new model envisaged a flyover across the island’s eastern parts to link Commercial Road directly to the High Street’s west end, the west part of the island modelled as having three north–south slab blocks on a podium and the east part (Drum Yard) a Miesian tower, evidently ephemeral ideas at the time.2

Traffic volumes had almost doubled since the war by 1964 when the highway and subway works were at last begun to designs prepared under the LCC’s Chief Engineer, Peter F. Stott. Completed in 1966, the work was done by Fitzpatrick & Sons (Contractors) Ltd. The overall cost of £1,500,000 for the project was split equally between properties and works. Road circulation was clockwise with Whitechapel High Street made a one-way road for eastbound traffic, railings forcing pedestrians to use the subways. The cleared western part of the island was put to use as a car and lorry park.3


  1. London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), LCC/CL/HIG/02/149: The Times, 17 May 1938, pp.33–38: J. H. Forshaw and Patrick Abercrombie, County of London Plan, 1943, pp.51–4,147 and plate 4: D. L. Munby, Industry and Planning in Stepney, 1951, pp.378–84: Kathryn A. Morrison and John Minnis, Carscapes: The Motor Car, Architecture and Landscape in England, 2012, pp.342–8: information kindly supplied by Simon Pepper 

  2. LMA, LCC/CL/HIG/02/103; COL/PL/01/165/C/025; SC/PHL/02/0677 (55/2/TP/46F/0221-5 and 60/3362–6) 

  3. LMA, GLC/DG/PTI/P/05/041; GLC/DG/PUB/01/231/U0963; COL/PL/01/165/C/026–7 

1982 view from Beagle House looking across towards Whitechapel High Street and the Aldgate Street tube station entrances
Contributed by Sarah Milne, Survey of London

Beagle House and Aldgate East underground station from the north side of Whitechapel High Street, 2005
Contributed by Sarah Milne, Survey of London

Aldgate Place under construction in 2016
Contributed by Derek Kendall

Construction site at Aldgate Place, August 2017
Contributed by Derek Kendall

Aldgate Place under construction, August 2017
Contributed by Derek Kendall

Site of the former Gardiner's Corner, August 2017
Contributed by Derek Kendall

Leman Street looking south, 1980
Contributed by danny

The site of Aldgate Tower in the 1960s

This film about traffic congestion, mostly in London, includes a shot looking west along the west end of Whitechapel High Street towards St Botolph Aldgate at 06.47 to 06.58 and again at 07.04 to 07.09 on the timer. On the left is the south entrance to Aldgate East station, then housed in what had been the Old Red Lion pub.

Contributed by Aileen Reid on Sept. 22, 2016