34 Alie Street

early 18th-century house, refurbished and divided 2012–13 | Part of 30–36 Alie Street

30–36 Alie Street (including 6A North Tenter Street)
Contributed by Survey of London on May 6, 2020

This row of four houses dates from the early period of development in Goodman’s Fields. It was likely built under Samuel Hawkins along with the adjoining group of smaller houses at Nos 38–44, all probably going up in the 1720s and certainly present by 1733. As a largely intact survival these houses are not only the best indicator of the nature of Alie Street as first built up, but also among the most substantial eighteenth-century buildings anywhere in Whitechapel. Three storeys in height with basements and attics, the three- bay brick-built houses have plat bands, surviving between the first and second floors, flat-arch window heads and parapets to tiled M-section roofs. No. 34 retained a pedimented door surround with finely carved consoles and drops until the 1960s. The same house had kept its original closed-string, twisted- baluster, square-newel staircase; it may yet survive. With rear-staircase plans and deep chimneystacks, the back rooms were given forward corner fireplaces. No. 32 retains plain panelling, much restored, and other early internal features. The railed forecourts of Nos 32 and 36 were built over for shops in 1933 and 1887 respectively. No. 34 was Listed in 1950, with Nos 30–32 and 36–44 added in 1973. After periods of dilapidation the buildings have been more or less conservatively restored. To the rear, extensions connect with separate buildings facing North Tenter Street.1

No. 30: William and Sarah Harris were in this house by 1733 and into the early 1740s. It was briefly occupied by the Rev. Joseph Denham around 1744 between his sojourns at the larger houses further west on Alie Street’s south side. William Miles, a stockbroker, was here around 1770 and the house was occupied by Mary Bowman, a schoolmistress, in the 1790s.2 In 1835, Richard Nelme, a warehouse-keeping merchant and a Freemason, said in a newspaper report to be eminent, died in this house in which he had lived for some years. His death prompted a murder trial, his wife and heir, Mary Ann Nelme, and Daniel Mathias, the son of Whitechapel’s Rector, standing as suspects taking into account alleged adultery. The ground-floor front had channelled rusticated stucco that is likely to have been an alteration of Nelmes’s time.3 Michael Meyers, an umbrella manufacturer, had the property from the 1840s to the 1880s. From 1887, when the three-storey building at 6A North Tenter Street was built by G. F. Brady, the house at 30 Alie Street served as the base for the Board for the Affairs of Shechita until the late 1920s. It then transferred back into the hands of the Meyers family; Lily Meyers, who ran a gown factory, remained in occupation until around 1978 by when the front wall, said to have been rebuilt to some extent, had been rendered and painted.4 

In 1982–3 the ground floor and basement of No. 30 were converted and given a new shopfront for Tandoori Cottage, an Indian restaurant that was extended back to 6A North Tenter Street; the upper floors were adapted to office use. In 2006–8, Abdul Ali, a former professional kickboxer known as Ali Jacko, led a project that converted the restaurant into a nightclub and striptease establishment, a venture named ‘Club Oops..!’. Tyler Hayhurst, later Hayhurst & Co., architects, were engaged to oversee alterations. After spells as Charlie’s Angels and Flamingos, and run by City Traders London Ltd, a firm liquidated in 2018, the club saw its original name revived by 2018–19. Hsiao- Hung Pai, an investigative journalist, had reported that half of the establishment’s female employees were migrants from eastern Europe, many of whom ‘never imagined they would wind up working in the British sex trade’, serving City bankers and brokers ‘some of whom appeared three times their age’.5

No. 32: John Turvin ‘Esq’ was in this house by 1733, followed from 1740 to the late 1760s by Samuel Thoyts, a corn factor and insurance broker who was the brother of William Thoyts, a wealthy coppersmith at 88 Whitechapel High Street (see p.xx). Samuel Wood, a merchant, followed.6 From the 1850s this house was used by Barnett Boam, a plate and diamond merchant, and Henry Marks, a sponge merchant. In 1879–80 it became Jacques Delmonte’s dancing academy where Delmonte taught ‘daily all the fashionable dances perfectly to anyone who is without the slightest previous knowledge’.7 In 1886 he had a single-storey ‘dancing saloon’ added to the rear to North Tenter Street, it was built by William Willson, a carpenter based on the east side of Leman Street. In these premises Harry Lipman (1900–1971), who was to become known as Harry Roy, a clarinettist and dance-band leader, was taught violin. By 1921 the academy was overseen by Max Delmonte who remained in place until 1933, when the Ciro Club took up at the property, extending it forwards with a porch on the former forecourt, bearing a lantern and glazed to the front with a recessed entrance and coloured-glass fanlights that survive. James Easton of Goswell Road was the builder. This initiative appears to have failed as by 1936 Gowman & Co., gown manufacturers, had the building, which extended to link through to 4 North Tenter Street. From the 1960s to ’80s the property was occupied by a costume-jewellery company, with upper floors in office use. By 1986 it was vacant and, with its relatively unaltered interior, was deemed by English Heritage to be ‘at risk’ in 2000. Office use returned after repairs and refurbishment of 2002 for Nestone Ltd, based on Leman Street, overseen by Peter Messenger, architect, the works including reinstatement of panelled rooms. Further minor works in 2018–19 involved opening up the ground floor.8 

No. 34: Early residents here were John and Sarah Cuddy, present by 1733, followed by Rose Welch, from the early 1740s, and Alexander Bolton, who died in 1764, by when the pedimented doorcase, perhaps an early alteration, would have been present. Solomon Abrahams, a silversmith, was resident prior to 1832 when an advertisement for the lease called the premises an ‘excellent dwelling house and garden’.9  George Henry Simmonds (d. 1883), architect and surveyor, was resident here by 1841 up to the late 1870s. His successor into the 1890s was William Alexander Longmore, another architect.10 They were well placed here for the Board of Works’ offices. The rusticated stucco treatment of the ground floor perhaps antedated Simmonds, but it could be that he was responsible for that alteration.

From the 1930s to ’60s there was rag-trade occupancy, followed by betting-shop and social-club use. Refurbishment works in 1964 introduced a second front door in the east bay, for direct access to the first-floor club. It was probably at this time that the eighteenth-century doorcase was removed. Despite plans for a flat conversion, the house was vacant and ‘at risk’ by 2000. In 2012–13 an area was formed for direct access to a basement flat below what is otherwise a house in single occupation. A window replaced the second entrance door.11

No. 36: John Chandler was resident here in the 1730s, followed by Mary Skinner by 1740. Some link to a later occupant of the house seems likely. Gilbert Burn (1741–1821), a linendraper previously on Newgate Street, was resident by 1811. His wife, Mary, was the daughter of Matthew Skinner, an Exeter goldsmith who had moved to Islington. For forty years from the 1840s the house was leased by Eleazer Meldola, a surgeon. In 1851, the Rev. David Meldola, the Chief Rabbi at Bevis Marks Synagogue, was also resident. The single-storey shop on the forecourt was built in 1887 as part of a conversion for a restaurant run by Max Tuchband. W. A. Longmore, the architect neighbour, oversaw this work. Later long-standing use of the property was by Solomon Shinebaum, first active as a butcher in the 1910s, later as a salmon curer sharing tenancy with the British Smoked Salmon Co., which remained present into the 1980s. No. 36 was overhauled in an office conversion in 1987–8, the lost attic storey being replaced and the shopfront remade with extension to the rear. Another conversion, from offices to flats, ensued in 2009–10.12 

  1. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHM), An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in London, vol. 5: East London, 1930, p. 99: John Summerson, Georgian London, 1945 (edn 1988), p. 317: London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), Collage 116776, 116946; District Surveyors' Returns (DSR): Post Office Directories (POD): HIstoric England Archives (HEA), RCHM inventory cards, 1928: Tower Hamlets planning applications online (THP) 

  2. LMA, Land Tax Returns (LT); CLC/B/192/F/001/MS11936/388/602019 

  3. The National Archives (TNA), PROB11/1855/227; Morning Advertiser, 31 Dec 1835, p. 3: Ancestry: HEA, RCHM inventory cards, 1928 

  4. POD: DSR: HEA, DD002743: RCHM, p.99 

  5. Hsiao–Hung Pai, Invisible: Britain’s Migrant Sex Workers, 2013, pp.60–4: THP: democracy.towerhamlets.gov.uk/documents/s91084/3.2a%20Club%20Env iee%20SEV%20rpt.pdf: beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/08756000 

  6. LT: Ancestry: Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 6/1, March 1799, p. 259 

  7. East London Observer, 20 Nov 1886, p. 8: POD 

  8. Greater Manchester County Record Office, 1357/8a: DSR: POD: Morning Advertiser, 30 May 1832, p. 4: TNA, PROB11/1800/399: THP: English Heritage, Register of Buildings at Risk, 2000, p.193: Bridget Cherry, Charles O’Brien and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England, London 5: East, 2005, p. 434 

  9. Morning Advertiser, 30 May 1832, p. 4: LT: TNA, PROB11/896/339; PROB11/1800/399 

  10. POD: Ancestry 

  11. POD: LMA, Collage 116776: HEA, RCHM inventory cards, 1928; photograph DD002743: THP 

  12. POD: TNA, PROB11/1645/348: Ancestry: LT: Metropolitan Board of Works Minutes, 25 March 1887, p. 531: Census: THP 

30–44 Alie Street, first-floor plan as built
Contributed by Helen Jones