Zam Zam Gift Shop (formerly the Lord Napier public house), 235 Whitechapel Road

1909, public house, S. A. S. Yeo, architect, converted to shop use in the 1930s | Part of 235-247 Whitechapel Road

Some notes on the Lord Napier
Contributed by stephen.r.harris on Dec. 19, 2016

The earliest date I have for this pub is 1878, when Richard Bartlett was listed in the Post Office Directory as being a beer retailer at this address. A partial view of the pub can be seen in a photograph dated 1896, reproduced in the 1969 book 'Victorian & Edwardian London from old photographs' by John Betjeman.  This confirms that the pub was trading as the Lord Napier at this time and that it sold beer from the Barclay Perkins Brewery of Southwark. The last date I have for the premises being in use as a pub is 1934, when it still traded with a beer retailer licence, as opposed to a full licence. It was listed in the Kelly's Directory of that year as being held by Charles Davis.

235 Whitechapel Road (formerly the Lord Napier public house)
Contributed by Survey of London on Nov. 17, 2017

By the 1780s and into the 1840s a shop on this corner was occupied by Joseph Bond and then William Bond, wireworkers and bird-cage makers. After a period housing tripedressers, the premises were given over to beer retailing in the 1860s and came to be called the Lord Napier public house. Rebuilding in 1909 was to plans by S. A. S. Yeo, architect, for E. Lacon & Co. Ltd, brewers The small red-brick pub was given presence through the Baroque pedimental treatment of its single-bay façade, but pub use ceased in the mid 1930s. Subsequent retailers here included Kossoff’s kosher bakery from the 1960s to the 1980s, later taken over by Grodzinski, then Zam Zam Gift Shop, referring to the holy water of a well in Mecca.1


  1. London Metropolitan Archives, Land Tax returns: Tower Hamlets Commissioners of Sewers ratebooks; District Surveyors Returns: Post Office Directories: The National Archives, IR58/84806/2337. 

Circumcision cakes
Contributed by Jil on June 27, 2017

When I was a trainee midwife at the London Hospital in the 1960s, there was a Kossoff's bakery shop on the corner of Court Street and Whitechapel Road. When a baby boy was born to a Jewish mother, he was circumcised within 24 hours. For all involved to celebrate, we were provided with a very sweet red wine - a little on a finger helped the baby deal with the pain - and some small finger- sized sweet pastries from Kossoffs. I associated these pastries, which were brought by weight, with circumcisions, so the staff in the bakery were a bit surprised when I went into buy some 'circumcision cakes', which were delicious.. When I explained why I was calling these pastries by that name, I was told they were a traditional cake for such an event and agreed that in future, when anyone wanted to buy some, they would think about calling them the same name as me.

235-247 Whitechapel Road in 2016
Contributed by Derek Kendall

235 Whitechapel Road in 2016
Contributed by Derek Kendall

235-253 Whitechapel Road in 2016
Contributed by Derek Kendall

235-253 Whitechapel Road in 2016
Contributed by Derek Kendall

235-239 Whitechapel Road in 2016
Contributed by Derek Kendall

235-239 Whitechapel Road in 2016
Contributed by Derek Kendall

Whitechapel Road with Court Street in 2016
Contributed by Derek Kendall

Whitechapel Road with Court Street
Contributed by Derek Kendall

241-253 Whitechapel Road in 2016
Contributed by Derek Kendall