East End communities

Chrisp street market Poplar. Setting for May Keaps series by BK Duncan

Limehouse was London’s original Chinatown. The streets around the docks were thronged with foreign sailors and those passing through on their way to another country, but there were permanent immigrant communities – Norwegian, Scandinavian, Jewish, Russian, Lascar, Japanese, Malay, Chinese – in Poplar and Limehouse. That’s one of the reasons I chose to set the May Keaps series there – strangers, poverty, alien cultures, and harsh working conditions are a volatile mix and perfect for stories involving unnatural and unlawful deaths.

I read a lot of contemporary accounts of time spent in the East End by George R Sims, Thomas Burke and the like, as well as newspaper reports of incidents and conflicts. The following websites helped me with both historical facts, and the voices of the people themselves:

Jewish Histories – Working Lives

British Library Oral History Catalogue

The Chinese in Limehouse

1913 Limehouse’s Chinatown

Life in Jewish East End

Postcard by kind permission of Philip Mernick

May Keaps series

1918 programme for variety show for St Dunstan's front cover

Variety theatre: 1918 show in aid of St Dunstan’s

This remarkable document is a testament to its time. Programme for a 1918 variety show in aid of St Dunstan’s, the Blinded Soldiers’, and Sailors’ Hostel.

Continue reading
Golders Green Hippodrome variety programme 1914 page 1

Variety Theatre: Golders Green Hippodrome 1914

I’ve kept this battered copy of a 1914 variety theatre programme safe for over 40 years.

Continue reading