Discover London’s historic East End at your own pace with our free audio tour. Let our academic experts bring more than 300 years of east London’s fascinating past to life. Also available via the QMUL webpage: http://bit.ly/qmulaudio
From Liverpool Street Station, the tour takes in key historical sites, figures and events that shaped the history of the East End. Start at the Bishopsgate entrance to Liverpool Street.
Dr Alastair Owens describes the labyrinth of narrow alleys and streets, which mark the boundary between the wealth of the City and the East End - an area known for its poverty, ill-health and immorality in the nineteenth century.
Petticoat Lane Market is one of the oldest retail experiences in Britain, dating back to the seventeenth century. Dr Nadia Valman discusses the market’s heyday up to World War II as the social and commercial hub of the Jewish East End.
Dr Alastair Owens discusses the Jewish Soup Kitchen, on Brune Street in east London. The Kitchen opened in 1902 to provide food and work skills for poor Ashkanasi Jewish migrants who had fled persecution in Russia and Eastern Europe.
Miles Ogborn is Professor of Geography at Queen Mary, University of London. He talks about the architectural gem of Christ Church, Spitalfields. Commissioned by Sir Christopher Wren, Christ Church was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor and paid for by a tax on coal.
Dr Nadia Valman tells the story of the Brick Lane Mosque - a building that embodies the immigrant history of the East End. It started life as a Huguenot Church in the seventeenth century, erected to express the prosperity of their Calvanist faith. Today, it is a place of worship for the thriving local Bangladeshi community.
Altab Ali Park on Whitechapel Road is named in memory of a 25-year-old Bangladeshi man who was murdered in 1978. Shortly after his death, 7,000 people marched on Trafalgar Square to demand better police protection for local minorities. The murder of Altab Ali, says Professor Parvati Nair, brought to the fore a deeply entrenched fight for political and criminal justice among the Bangla people.
On 31 August 1888 the body of Mary Jane Kelly, a victim of Jack the Ripper, was discovered on a street behind what is now Whitechapel Tube Station. From crime and poverty to radical politics, Dr Alastair Owens talks about the Victorian East End’s global significance.
Mile End Waste was the East End version of Speakers’ Corner in Victorian times. In the 1860s William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army preached here. Dr Alastair Owens explains Booth’s approach to tackling East End poverty and overcrowding; issues that troubled many social reformers of the day.
Professor Miles Ogborn talks about the Trinity Alms Houses, built in 1695 on Mile End Road. These were charitable homes for retired sea captains, and a quiet haven away from the busy Thames docks.
Popular entertainment is at the heart of East End history, as Dr Alastair Owens explains. What is now the Genesis Cinema started life as the Eagle Pub in the 1840s. Lusby’s Music Hall, the Paragon Theatre of Varieties, and the Mile End Empire were later reincarnations. At the end of the tour, Professor Amanda Vickery gives her take on what makes a Georgian house, as seen on Mile End Road, so architecturally special.