Author Archives: John Rennie

About John Rennie

Writing about East London history. Sub at Daily Express. Teaching journalism at City University London. One presented a TV show called the Unsellables and the BT Walletwatcher blog. West Ham fan. Native of Basildon

Garrick

The millions of tourists who come to London each year have no doubt where ‘Theatreland’ lies. ‘The West End’ is synonymous with the London stage, with dozens of playhouses clustered around Shaftesbury Avenue, Drury Lane and the Strand. Yet as … Continue reading

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William West — unwitting Jack the Ripper suspect

It was the end of a long day for William West as he left the offices of the Worker’s Friend newspaper in Whitechapel, with the street lamps barely penetrating the unlit Dutfield’s Yard. A normal day for the young immigrant. … Continue reading

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Peter Shore — Labour’s forgotten prophet

Governments and faces change, the decades roll by, but one thing is ever present in British politics … the ‘will we, won’t we’ stay in Europe. Forty something years ago it was President De Gaulle saying ‘non’ after years of … Continue reading

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Give my regards to Broad Street

Broad St/east london history/9sep13 ‘Give my regards to Broad Street,’ instructed Paul McCartney in his eponymous 1984 movie. But where on earth is Broad Street? In the closing minutes of the film, the erstwhile Beatle is filmed wandering along the … Continue reading

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Cigar makers of the East End of London

The trading vessels that set off for the New World, for Asia, and for the West and East Indies from the 16th century onward, brought back a number of goods, without which it’s impossible to imagine the London of today. … Continue reading

Posted in East End crafts and craftspeople, East End entrepreneurs, East End industries, London's immigrant communities | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

From gas to electricity in the East End of London

Last week we looked at the ‘gas wars’ that intermittently flared across London as Victorian businessmen sought, Klondike-style, to stake their claim in a business that would pay off for generations to come. But even as the gaslights flickered on … Continue reading

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Dash for water in 19th century East End of London

Over the last two weeks we looked at the dash to power the growing East End of the 19th century. But even more than heat and light, the one thing the new homes, factories, warehouses and docks needed was a … Continue reading

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Whitechapel painter John Hoppner

He was a Whitechapel boy who rose to become George III’s favourite painter … so liked by the King that gossips suggested he was his illegitimate son. And yet today, John Hoppner is completely forgotten, while near contemporary Royal Academicians … Continue reading

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Thomas Rainsborough, the Levellers and the English Civil War

Roundheads versus Cavaliers, Parliament versus Royalty. In the popular mind the English Civil War is a simple conflict of two clearly opposing factions, which will end with the beheading of one king — and unfold a decade later with the … Continue reading

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Bow dye

Bow Dye/east end life/27may13 Renaissance man, polymath, uomo universale — there are many ways to describe the remarkable Cornelis Jacobszoon Drebbel. He was a multi-talented Dutchman who came to London as a guest of James I to share his extraordinarily … Continue reading

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