A sugar refinery with men's room, Fieldgate Street
Contributed by Bryan Mawer on Nov. 18, 2016
The 1873 map layer shows that the Maryam Centre sits squarely on the site of a
sugar refinery, the later development of which took it almost to Whitechapel
Road where the East London Mosque now stands. The sugar refinery was at 17
Fieldgate St, the building across the yard, beyond the gatehouse, was 16.
There had been sugar refining at two separate locations in Fieldgate St, the
earlier record being 1736, but we don't get a true indication of who was
working the refinery adjacent to Orange Row until 1817 when it was listed as
James & Edward Friend. William Boden became a partner in 1821 and took
over the company when the partnership was dissolved in 1830, following a fire
the previous year. The 1851 census shows that Boden lived in the dwelling
house at the refinery, while fifteen, mostly single, German sugarbakers lived
in the men's room at no 16. Other sugarbakers would have lived in the streets
nearby. Men's rooms, with many bedrooms and a mess room, had always been part
of the larger London refineries, giving the newly arrived young workers secure
lodgings and guidance from the one or two experienced workers who also lived
in. The records for this particular refinery make it clear where the men's
room was relative to the refinery.
William Boden retired in 1851 and took himself off to converted salt workers'
cottages in Clevedon, Somerset. The business was purchased by Sydney B
Hodge. He ran it through to his death in 1878 when his son took over, but by
1882 it was losing money, production ceased and the extensive premises were
put up for sale. The buildings were described in an advertisement in The
Times: 'A brick built sugar house 67ft by 61ft of ground and 7 floors,
warehouse brick built of ground and 5 floors, cistern house, dwelling house,
and offices of 4 storeys and basement, sample room with gatekeeper's house
over, manager's office, large stone paved yard enclosed with pair of folding
gates, lofty brick built chimney shaft, steam engine house, and a freehold
dwelling house no. 16 Fieldgate St containing 12 rooms and in the basement a
mess room for the men. A brick built charcoal house 60ft by 55ft with ground
and 2 floors over, smith's shop, and gateway entrance, brick built stable and
store with dwelling rooms over, stoke hole in rear and yard, and a brick built
dwelling house with 3 rooms with yard in rear.
Visiting Whitechapel as a youngster
Contributed by Sarah Milne, Survey of London on June 3, 2017
Sufia remembers mid-20th century Whitechapel:
Whitechapel had a sense of culture when I came to Whitechapel when I was
younger. It was okay to be Bangladeshi here. We came to visit my uncle just
outside the Whitechapel boundary from Yorkshire. My mum felt very at home here
coming from Yorkshire. I remember being excited by going to a cinema on
Commercial Road to watch a Bollywood movie. There was lots of Bangla media
around: newspapers, the latest fashions, events. You could dip in and out of
the culture. I felt part of it.
The first time I heard the call pray was very memorable. It was like we were
in a foreign country. You could see how different cultures were mixed together
in London and it was okay. You heard of stories of racism but as a younger
person visiting it wasn't something I thought about. The best thing was
Whitechapel Market, it had everything that no one else had in Yorkshire!
I moved to the area later in life. My two daughters were born in the London
Hospital before we moved out to Poplar. Since 1997 I've been working at the
Wapping Centre(?), with women and Bangladeshi community in particular. I found
that there was so much culture on our doorsteps but women were not coming out
of their houses to engage with it. So I worked in various local centres to
encourage women to be confident in different ways and to be part of the
community. More recently I've been working at the Maryam Centre.