Calcutta House annexe, Old Castle Street

1932 former Brooke Bond welfare building, later part of London Metropolitan University

The Green Man and the Sons of Lodz chevra, 40 Newcastle Street
Contributed by Survey of London on July 15, 2018

From its creation in the early 1730s, Newcastle Street (later Tyne Street) was developed with small three-storey houses, one of which, part of a parcel of forty houses, stables, a brewhouse and warehouse leased by the developer William Newland to Thomas Peckham in 1733 and 1734, became the Green Man inn.1 The inn was situated on the west side of Newcastle Street, on the site of the north end of the Calcutta House Annexe, the former Brooke Bond welfare centre.2 In its early days it was itself more of an annexe to the adjoining stables, the landlords in the 1730s and 1740s, Francis Milson and Henry Davis (d. 1748), using it as the base for sale of donkeys for milk, and for hiring horses to collect hay and straw from Essex.3 In the early to mid nineteenth century another Green Man existed, concurrently and confusingly, in Mansell Street. In the early 1840s the Green Man’s landlord, John Clarke, ran the United Helpmates Birmingham Benefit Society and Coal Club, low-priced subscription clubs for cheap life insurance and coal, as well as dog fights and boxing into the early 1850s.4 The low-life, low-rent character continued into the 1870s when the Green Man was raided as an illegal gambling den, when only coppers were recovered.5

By October 1884 a synagogue, known as the Bikkur Cholim Sons of Lodz Chevra (possibly a merger of two Hevros: Bikkur Cholim ‘Visitors of the Sick’, and Bnai Lodz, ‘Sons of Lodz’) had been created within the former Green Man.6 It was described in unfavourable terms in 1888: ‘there is a synagogue on the first floor, which is approached by a disgraceful staircase, and … there is no provision to enable women to worship. On the ground floor of this house is an eating house where there is reason to fear gambling is not unfrequently practised, while the upper floors are occupied by many poor families crowded together’.7 As the synagogue was still in operation in May 1894, but not known subsequently, and the Sons of Lodz Chevra in New Goulston Street opened in 1896, it seems likely that this was the same congregation.8 Following the synagogue’s departure, there was a further prosecution for illegal gambling, after which the three-storey building reverted to residential use and the site was cleared by March 1931 for the building of the Brooke Bond welfare centre fronting Old Castle Street.9

  1. West Sussex Record Office, HARRIS/266: London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), MDR/1734/5/215 

  2. Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives (THLHLA), B/PBE/6/7 

  3. LMA, Land Tax returns (LT): Daily Advertiser, 4 Nov 1743: Derby Mercury, 9 Jan 1746, p. 2: Ancestry 

  4. Bell’s Life in London, 12 Sept 1841, p. 4; 16 Jan 1842, p. 4: The Examiner, 13 Aug 1842, p. 523: Bell’s Life in London, 3 Dec 1843, p. 4: Morning Advertiser, 24 June 1844, p. 1: The Era, 28 Oct 1849, p. 6: Bell’s Life in London, 4 Sept 1853, p. 6 

  5. Luton Reporter, 12 July 1879, p. 6 

  6. Jewish Chronicle (JC), 31 October 1884, p. 6: THLHLA, B/PBE/6/7 

  7. JC, 19 Oct 1888, p. 7 

  8. JC, 4 May 1894, p. 18 

  9. LMA, District Surveyor's Returns (DSR): Illustrated Police News, 22 April 1899, p. 10: The National Archives (TNA), IR58/84818/3532 to 3537 

Calcutta House Annexe of London Metropolitan University and Brooke Bond welfare centre
Contributed by Survey of London on July 15, 2018

The Calcutta House Annexe has been part of London Metropolitan University since it came into being through the merger of Guildhall University and the University of North London in 2002; the Annexe building had been occupied by Guildhall University’s predecessor institution, City of London Polytechnic, in 1973.1 Like most of LMU’s buildings in Old Castle Street and Goulston Street it was part of the Brooke Bond Tea company’s administration and storage buildings, which had grown apace in Whitechapel since the 1870s. The Annexe was built in 1931-2, on the site of the buiders yard of Amos Eaton & Co. Ltd and the former Green Man (see above) for Brooke Bond as a staff welfare centre, to the designs of Albert Leigh Abbott (1890-1952).2 It was a five- storey, including basement, steel-framed building faced in brick and patent stone, with large steel-framed windows by Crittall Ltd, all erected by local builders Walter Gladding & Co. Ltd. There were entrances at either end leading to stone staircases and a lift at the north end. A bridge connected the top-floor directors’ dining room floor to the main building opposite.

Workers' lounge, ground floor, 1932, from The Builder, 28 Oct 1932, p. 730

The ground floor included a lounge and dance room for ‘the workers’ with sprung maple floor, the first floor the workers’ dining room, the second the office staff dining room and kitchens.

Office staff dining room, second floor, from The Builder, 28 Oct 1932, p. 730

It was both well specified, with maple flooring and teak joinery throughout, and technologically advanced – there were water softening and refrigerator plants, and a radio-gramophone on the ground floor piped to loud speakers in all other rooms.3

Brooke Bond Liebig  it was by then sold all their Goulston Street and Old Castle Street properties in March 1973 and, following a period of disuse and decay, the building was refurbished for LMU in 2015-17 to the designs of ArchitecturePLB and Willmott Dixon Interiors. The project enlarged the ground- floor windows and created a new entrance and space for a metal and wood workshops, film and animation studio in the basement and a rapid prototyping and digital print workshop.4

  1. Tower Hamlets planning applications online (THP) 

  2. Ancestry: London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), District Surveyors's Returns (DSR): Post Office Directories 

  3. The Builder, 28 Oct 1932, pp. 722, 729-30: DSR 

  4. THP: phase-1-2: Birmingham Daily Post, 27 March 1973, p. 5 

Brooke Bond welfare centre, 1932
Contributed by Aileen Reid