Kearley & Tonge
Contributed by Survey of London on Jan. 4, 2018
Kearley & Tonge was a tea-importing firm founded in 1876 by Hudson Ewbanke
Kearley with headquarters at Mitre Square near Aldgate. The company
diversified into provision wholesaling and by 1890 had 200 branches known as
International Stores. It first moved into Whitechapel to a bacon factory on
the west side of Thomas Street immediately south of the Vallance Road
recreation ground, enlarging it in 1892. Then a former soda works to the south
on Durward Street was taken for replacement in 1894–5 by a six-bay, six-storey
block, part warehousing, part a factory for making jams, cakes, biscuits and
sweets. William Eve & Son were the architects. Kearley & Tonge’s
wholesale grocery business, henceforward also known as International Tea
Company’s Stores, had what it called its London Central Depot on Durward
Street, employing 140 men and 51 women at what was said to be the largest
facility of its kind in the UK.
Expansion eastwards to the Thomas (now Castlemaine) Street corner was blocked
in 1896 in a dispute with Arthur Crow, District Surveyor, about regulations
regarding warehouse sub-division. The plans were altered and carried forward
in 1902–4 as an eight-storey block with five more bays to Durward Street and
nine to the Thomas Street return. In 1911–12 a separate six-storey seven-bay
eastern block went up on the other side of what had become Fulbourne Street,
with linking bridges and a tunnel, all designed by William Eve & Sons.
There was internal steel-frame construction and some concrete flooring.
Through all this David Stanton & Sons, hay and straw dealers, had held on
to stabling premises of 1891 on the south side of the bacon factory. That firm
had also built a warehouse and dwellings at the west end of the north side of
Durward Street in 1894–5, and redeveloped on Thomas Street in 1901–4. Kearley
& Tonge swallowed up their site and almost all of the rest of the block
south of the recreation ground and built further to a height of eight storeys
in 1924–8. The provisioners were taken over by British American Tobacco in
1972; the Whitechapel premises were promptly sold and the site cleared.
Juber Hussain remembers the market off Vallance Road
Contributed by Survey of London on Nov. 29, 2017
Juber Hussain grew up in Spitalfields in the 1980s. Here he remembers a street
market that took root on the site of demolished warehouses between Wodeham
Gardens and Durward Street, that he would visit with his father in the 1990s,
before it was redeveloped.
"[My dad] would take us out to Sunday Market, how to buy, how not to buy, how
to haggle, all of that, we would actually get lessons. The Sunday Market, the
dog market. But there was another market in the Vallance Road Park. And
Vallance Road Park at the end of Old Montague Street, all of that was, if you
like, the slums. There would be the darkest corner on the right where all the
crack heads and the smack heads, and the drug addicts and the prostitution was
there. And they're all Asians. [Before the redevelopment] it was a park but
there was a market, a dog market, like a bring-and-buy sale type of market.
That's where we would go. All the dodgy stuff. Black market. I think my dad
called it Kalo Market, black market. A lot of stuff, you’d buy second-hand
hoovers, everything from cookers to fake YSL shirts, all of that stuff…[It
was] very dodgy, it was like Del-boy type of marketplace, so you'd have a lot
of sales people trying to sell you stuff, a lot of demonstrations, shouting,
"get your bag of apples, love," that kind of thing, very Cockney. People would
sell pornography, there were stalls of pornography.
[The market was there] while I was in secondary school I saw it being
renovated. But it became very quiet because some of the people who come here
[to the mosque], actually, to pray, I would see them singing and gambling in
the park. And now they've got beard and they're like praying here, so amazing.
It's beautiful now. And there are houses everywhere".
Juber Hussain was interviewed by Shahed Saleem at the East London Mosque on
Contributed by Survey of London on Jan. 4, 2018
Following the failure of shopping-mall schemes, plans for developing the five-
acre area north of the east end of Durward Street were advanced in 1991 by the
Spitalfields Development Group, headed by Michael Bear with John Miller and
Partners as architects, proposing 118 low-rent flats (58) and houses (60) and
a public leisure centre with two swimming pools, a leisure pool having been
part of the shopping-mall scheme from 1986. This ‘community benefit package’
was put forward as part of a deal for the redevelopment of the Spitalfields
A second scheme that was submitted in 1995 led to the building of the
Whitechapel Sports Centre, but the housing project was not resolved until 2000
when plans by MEPK Architects (led by Marcus Nelson) were approved, working
with Alan McEwan and Associates, engineers. Building proceeded and the Tower
Hamlets Community Housing estate opened in 2003 as Whitechapel West. It
comprises terraces of two- and three-storey stock-brick and faintly neo-
Georgian houses, with intermingled blocks of flats, distinguished by the
incorporation of red-brick spandrel panels, at 57–71 Durward Street, 22–30
Vallance Road (with shops), 3–71 Wodeham Gardens (with a community room at the
Vallance Road corner), and 1–15 and 26–40 Trahorn Close. There is a small
railed circular garden in Trahorn Close.
Contributed by Survey of London on Jan. 3, 2018
In 1796–7 Thomas Barnes, Whitechapel’s leading builder, took a large plot of
land north of Ducking Pond Row between the Liptraps' Whitechapel Distillery
and Thomas Street and up to the parish boundary on a building agreement and
lease from the Rev. Charles Phillips, undertaking to spend £1000 on building
houses within five years. He duly laid out John Street (to the east and erased
in the 1860s), Queen Ann Street and Cross Street and built about 100 small
houses using available land for brickmaking during the process.
At this time Barnes was one of the Tower Hamlets Commissioners of Sewers, a
committee chaired by the notoriously corrupt Joseph Merceron, under whom
ratebook fraud was widespread. It is notable, therefore, that entries in a
sewer commissioners’ ratebook from 1803 that record the Liptraps and Barnes on
successive lines as holding property valued respectively at 12 shillings and
£9 were overwritten and reversed in January 1804, a marginal note claiming an
error. The Liptraps' struggle with bankruptcy in 1804 was perhaps not
Further west, by 1803 Samuel Special had a slaughterhouse and there was a
varnish factory on White’s Row by 1838. Joseph and William Lescher, starch
manufacturers, were on the west side of the north end of Thomas Street by 1803
and as Lescher Son & Co. were building extensively in 1847–9.
The starch factory site on the west side of Thomas Street was replaced around
1890 by Blackwall Buildings, 156 dwellings in four ranges built by and for the
Great Eastern Railway Company. They were sold in 1933 and cleared around
1970. To serve some of this population a corrugated-iron mission hall was
built at the north end of Thomas Street's east side in 1893, to plans by H. O.
Ellis, architect. It was extended with a clubroom in 1902 and cleared after
war damage. The Sir John Barleycorn public house was further south on the
east side of Thomas Street.
Thomas Street was renamed Fulbourne Street in 1904, after Hugh de Fulbourne,
the earliest known rector of Whitechapel. In 1912 Queen Ann Street was renamed
Wodeham Street and Cross Street Trahorn Street (after Whitechapel vicars).
Queen Ann Street had been noted in Booth’s survey as having some of the area’s
worst housing in 1898, with ‘all english’ as opposed to Jewish occupancy. The
Pemberton-Barnes Estate still owned many of the Barnes-built houses in the
1930s and the last remnants of replacement housing survived into the 1970s.
The streets have gone, but their secondary names have been recycled.
Contributed by Survey of London on Jan. 4, 2018
From 1972 to 1988 there were plans for a large shopping mall to the north of
Whitechapel Road and Whitechapel Station. These were initiated by the London
Borough of Tower Hamlets, which owned land north of Durward Street and was in
the process of acquiring Greater London Council owned property, and planned
co-operatively with London Transport, which owned most of what lay to the
south of Durward Street. A first scheme incorporated substantial office and
residential elements and proposed building above the railway line. The
factories north of Durward Street and the housing between Durward Street and
Winthrop Street were cleared in the early 1970s, leaving just the coal-drop
viaduct, Rosenbergers and Brady House on Durward Street, Brady Street
Dwellings, and a garage immediately south of the Jewish Burial Ground in
The Shankland Cox Partnership put forward four development options in 1975,
soon reduced to three, ranging in extent from just the east side of
Whitechapel Station to Brady Street, to all the way to Vallance Road in the
west. Redevelopment planning extended well northwards into Spitalfields and
Bethnal Green. Abbott Howard, architects, took forward a preferred scheme
before 1979 when the Council briefed Sam Chippindale Development Services to
prepare a plan for almost fourteen acres ‘loosely based on a Brent
Cross/Arndale theme’; Chippindale, a founder of Arndale, had not previously
been active in London. Through Trip and Wakeham Partnership, architects,
this had become a huge project (larger in fact than Brent’s Cross) extending
to the northern boundary of the parish, intending 800,000 square feet of
retail including six or seven department stores, 300,000 square feet of office
space, flats and parking for 1800 cars and a bus station.
There was perceived competition from Surrey Docks, but all seemed set to go
ahead in 1983. However, two big retailers pulled out and Chippindale, voicing
doubt (the project ‘hadn’t got a cat in hell’s chance of succeeding’), was
sacked in 1985. The scheme’s commercial viability was further questioned, but
concerned at being the only London borough both not to have a large retail
centre and expecting a population increase in the 1980s, the Council issued a
new development brief. Competing proposals included a scheme by Inner City
Enterprises submitted with the Tower Hamlets Environment Trust on behalf of
the Whitechapel Development Trust. This became known as ‘the community plan’;
its architects were CZWG. A more commercial rival (more offices and parking,
less residential) from Pengap Securities Ltd working with Chapman Taylor
Partners was favoured. Pengap was taken over by the Burton Group in 1987 and
the project was passed around, to former Pengap directors as Wingate Property
and Investment, then to Chase Property Holdings and on to Trafalgar House with
Consortium Commercial. The scheme they submitted and gained permission to
build in 1988 would have had a large domical central feature and a nine-storey
tower on Brady Street. It would also have meant clearance of 235–245 and
287–317 Whitechapel Road. But negotiations unravelled and by the end of the
year the project had died, its abandonment said to be connected to proposals
for the Grand Metropolitan owned Albion Brewery site. Meanwhile there had been
vast quantities of fly-tipping on the empty land, to a depth of 2–3m.
What had been the Kearley & Tonge site south of Vallance Gardens was used
for car auctions, as a lorry park and as a Sunday market for second-hand goods
in the 1980s and 90s. A spin-off from Brick Lane’s then gentrifying market,
this was misleadingly referred to as Whitechapel Waste, and more accurately
described as the 'kalo' (Bengali for black) market.