A Walk Round the Isle of Dogs in 1968 (Then & Now) – Part II, Manchester Road (Mostly)

Part I of this article described how Hugo Wilhare took a series of wonderful and uique photos of the Isle of Dogs in 1968/69, and ended up sharing them on the Facebook group, ‘The Isle of Dogs – Then & Now‘ a few decades later. The article gathered together the photos taken along Westferry Road, and supplemented them with maps,  ‘Now’ photos and a little history of the buildings and area shown. In part II, the walk continues, along Manchester Road, starting at the Lord Nelson.

1-9 Manchester Road

The Lord Nelson was built in 1855, originally with a statue of Lord Nelson on the roof corner and other ornate features (all of which vanished long ago). In 1964, a few years before the old photo was taken, a number of people were residents of the pub according to the electoral register:

  • Fred and Mary Barnes
  • Southgate family
  • A.E. Bonney
  • Robert Waller

The collection of small buildings in the yard to the right of the Lord Nelson served as the business premises of the “Millwall & Cubitt Town Omnibus Co.” in 1884. In 1886, Millwall Rovers left their Millwall headquarters at The Islanders pub in Tooke St, and moved to the Nelson. For the next 4 years the team played at a ground behind the pub (where Manchester Grove is now located). At that time, there were few buildings on the north side of Manchester Road, as this late 1880s map shows:

1880s

1949

Right of the pub were the addresses 3-9 Manchester Road. Nos. 7-9 were demolished in the 1980s and replaced with modern houses (the post-war photo does not give an indication of significant bomb damage). Occupants in the 1960s were:

  • No. 3. Unknown
  • No. 5. J.N. Downey (1968)
  • No. 7. James & Joan Hoskins (1964), Alice & James Sparks (1964)
  • No. 9. Grace & Percival Hall (1964)

Hugo used up a significant part of his precious black & white film in the section of Manchester Road between Ferry Street and Christ Church. The whole area south of Manchester Road was demolished in the early 1970s to make room for the new George Green’s School and community centre.

There is still much sadness at the demolition of so many old and familiar shops and houses. Also, even some streets disappeared: Brig Street, Schooner Street (formerly Ship Street) and Barque Street. The demolition, happening less than a decade after the demolition on the other side of Manchester Road and the construction of the Schooner Estate, changed this area of the Island completely.

Architectural model of the Schooner Estate

Architectural model of George Green’s School

Photos and memories of the area before the 1960s show and tell of a leafy and self-contained community: it had Millwall Park on one side, and Island Gardens and the river on the other. By Island standards there was not that much industry – it being confined to the riverfront – and the area was a long way from the docks, relatively. The population of the Island was 9,000 in 1960, but this grew to about 12,500 in 1971, which gives an idea of the extent of the influx of people from other areas of East London (mind you, the population is around 45,000 and growing fast in 2019).

On the other hand, the decision to build the school in the first place was thanks to the efforts of Islanders who wanted to make sure that there was a secondary school and better community services on the Island. The only other secondary school, in Glengall Grove, was on the point of closing – its buildings to be taken over by Cubitt Town Primary School. After 1970 and the Island’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence (see article here), one of the concessions from the council was to move George Green’s School to the Island.

The school officially opened in 1977, but the community centre opened the year before. I was the third kid to join the youth club, and I signed up for badminton, table tennis, 5-a-side football and photography. It cost me 35p.

The arches were part of the Millwall Extension of the London and Blackwall Railway Company, opened in 1872, and terminating at North Greenwich Railway Station (the rowing club is on the site of the railway station). The line closed in the 1920s, and the bridge was demolished. A new bridge was built in the 1980s to accommodate the DLR, but this bridge has also since been demolished.

To the right of the arches, 71A, 71 and 73 Manchester Road, just before the corner with Douglas Place.

  • No. 71A has always belonged to whichever firm was operating under the arches. In the 1960s, that was Whittock’s Garage.
  • No. 71. No records.
  • No, 73. Newsagent’s run by the Smith family around 1960.

A look back up Manchester Road,

The houses left of the former bridge, and the public loo, are part of the Manchester Grove Estate, built in 1925.

On the other side of the road from the garage and loo, there used to be a ladder up to the arches. It was not accessible to the public, it was in the yard of a firm which operated under the arches on this side of the road.

91 Manchester Road

The newsagents at 91 Manchester Road, on the corner with Stebondale Street, was yet another Jarvis Brothers shop.

88-92 Manchester Road (R to L)

No. 86, at the corner with Barque Street, was seriously damaged by bombing at the end of a sunny Saturday afternoon on 7th September 1940, the first night of the Blitz. The London Fire Brigade made notes of all incidents during WWII, and described this incident as such:

18:07. Explosive Bomb, 86 Manchester Road
A building of 3 floors about 40x 20 ft used as refreshment bar, dwelling and store, upper part and contents damaged.

This corner has always drawn my attention when I look at old maps and photos; not due to the bombing, but because it is the location of one of the first old photos of the Island that I’d ever seen – and one that helped to pique my interest in the history of the place.

Corner of Manchester Road and Barque Street (R), 1900s

In the 1960s, Nos. 88-92 were occupied by:

  • No. 88. Saunders’ butchers
  • No. 90. D. & L. Brown, post office and greengrocer’s
  • No. 92. Brian & Barbara Wallace, café

78-84 Manchester Road (right to left)

Looking back up Manchester Road a bit, the scene is dominated by the Princess of Wales pub. It was better known as ‘Mac’s’; a rather odd sign of Islanders’ tendency to stick to old names (like ‘Farm Road’), as it was so named after the former landlord, William Patrick McMahon, who was landlord from 1863 to 1884!

An old Island History Trust newsletter includes a photo of the last night of the pub:

Occupants to the right of the pub were (right to left):

  • No. 78. Brian & Iris Hill, Mary Thomas
  • No. 80. Newmak’s betting shop, and possibly Ronald & Maureen Mallett living above the shop.
  • No. 82. Barbara & David Scott are listed as residents, probably living above the minicab firm that operated at the address.

88 Manchester Road and higher

Residents of Nos. 94 to 112:

  • No. 94. Griffiths family
  • No. 96. Bannister and Payne families
  • No. 98. Edith & Florence Earwaker
  • No. 100. Albert & Joan Seabrook
  • No. 102. Knight family
  • No. 104. Downs & Williams families
  • No. 106. Frederick & Lilian Cain, Eliza Watts
  • No. 108. Agg family
  • No. 110. Michael & Marion Harrigan, Maud Goodman
  • No. 112. Hazell & Townshend families

116 Manchester Road and higher

114 Manchester Road

114 Manchester Road

Hart’s grocery shop, complete with milk machine outside, was at No. 114 Manchester Road, at the corner with Schooner Street (formerly Ship Street). The shop and its owner, make a brief appearance in the 1962 American documentary, “Postscript to Empire”, which compared the lot of those who remained living in a former industrial area of London (the Island, thus) with those who moved to a new town (Stevenage).

The scene in the shop includes a slightly strained debate (it was obviously set up, and neither participant could claim to be a natural actor) between former suffragette, councillor and Mayor of Poplar, Nellie Cressall and the shop’s owner, Mr. Hart.

Nellie Cressal entering Mr. Hart’s shop.

Nellie Cressal and Mr. Hart. Mr. Hart is saying something like “Well, in my opinion, it stands to reason that they should not have stopped conscription.” Nellie Cressal is thinking, “Bow Locks”, and is waiting to pounce. 

116 Manchester Road

Powell’s was another shop which had premises at different places on the Island over the years.

Looking from Powell’s towards Christ Church, it is possible to view the development during the years after the photo was taken….

Early 1970s. I am not sure who took this photo, but if anybody knows….

I took the following photo myself in 1977 – the photography lessons in the youth club were beginning to pay off.

Ricky Newark, Mark Fairweather, Ray Stephens and the late Stephen Bezzina

124 Manchester Road and higher

Hugo took no photos of the other side of Manchester Road along this section. That’s not suprising, he was after all taking photos of the old shops and buildings, and the other side of the road was the recently-opened Schooner Estate.

If he had been there a few years earlier, though, and had pointed his camera across the road, he would have seen the following – the area being cleared for the construction of the Schooner Estate. Mind you, there wasn’t much to clear as the area had been badly damaged during the War; pretty much only the premises along Manchester Road were still standing after 1945.

Manchester Road, with Glengarnock Avenue in the background, early 1960s. Area clearance in preparation for construction of the Schooner Estate. Galleon House was built on this spot.

124 Manchester Road

No. 123 was Margaret Gleeson’s draper’s, another shop which features in the Island History Trust collection….

114 Manchester Road, c1960. I’m not sure if Margaret Gleeson already owned the shop at the time.

124-130 Manchester Road (right to left)

The police station at No. 126 was opened in 1865. I was only in there once, with a group of other kids, to hand in an unexploded anti-aircraft shell that we had found on the Thames foreshore. The desk sergeant was not amused.

There are all sorts of wonderful images and documents to be found on the Internet, including some so-called ‘Occurrence Books’ of the Metropolitan Police (the police had to note every incident in which they were involved). Conveniently, they cover the period of 1968-71 at the Isle of Dogs police station. Here is an extract. The documents are a bit of a giggle, actually; click here you want to view them all yourself.

Occurrence Report, Isle of Dogs Police Station, February 1968

The house left of the police station, No. 128, was also destroyed during the War. To its left, a glimpse of Coleman’s sweet shop at No. 130.

140-144 Manchester Road (right to left)

This is a very rare image of Brig Street, whose path is now followed by George Green’s School’s ‘service road’ (if I can call it that). I remember the street as having no houses, and frequently being used by lorries that used to park up in the area behind (another great place to play). It is the only photo of the corner shop that I ever seen.

Occupants of the premises to the right of Brig Street:

  • No. 140. Annie & Samuel Hooper
  • No. 142. George & Rosella Priaulx, James Shelton
  • No. 144. Pendry and Shillaveer families, hardware shop

Nos. 154 & 156 Manchester Road (right to left)

  • No. 154.  Bob Olding’s barber shop (he took the shop over in 1950).
  • No. 156. Tremain’s fried fish shop.

The Tremains moved here after being bombed out of their original shop (not far from the Cubitt Arms) during WWII. The shop used to be packed of a Friday evening, with queues extending into the street. When the area was demolished, the Tremain’s moved into a shop in the recently-built flats across the road (my own flats). It was named ‘The Skate Inn’.

Both shops were of course another great place to play once they were derelict. Bob Olding’s was particularly memorable because of a quantity of large bottles filled with hair chemicals which had been left behind, asking to be broken. The stink!

1982, site of 154 & 156 Manchester Road. Although the school had opened in 1977, it took a long while before this corner was built upon.

Christ Church from approximately 207 Manchester Road

207 Manchester Road was my home, and this view hasn’t changed much over the years.

My first car, given to me by my Mum when my Dad passed away. Some little sod broke that aerial off, and – while trying to remove the remains – I managed to stab myself in the nose (I still have the scar, but also the nose).

Hugo’s next photos were a long way up Manchester Road. In fact, the very next one was not in Manchester Road at all, as Hugo took a detour to the riverside at Folly Wall.

Looking south at Folly Wall

In the foreground is the Rye Arc engineering company (which closed in 1973). Beyond that, the very recently opened Samuda Estate.

571 Manchester Road and higher

The Queen, 571 Manchester Road

Among the many pub closures on the Island, the closure and demolition of The Queen is one of the hardest to fathom. A grand building, in a perfect location for attracting custom from the new Dockland developments; yet, it was closed in about 2010.

The pub was opened in 1855, and in the last decade or two before closure, the owners experimented with new names: Queen’s, Queen’s Hotel and, finally, Queen of the Isle. One of my favourite photos of the pub was taken during the first London Marathon in 1981. The newspapers reported that one contestant stopped at every pub along the route for a swift half. Could this be him?

The Queen, 1980s

The row of houses starting at No. 575 is still known as Glen Terrace. It was built during the 1880s, and named after the Glen Shipping Line which had occupied the site at the start of the decade. It follows the original path of Manchester Road, which went in a straight line over the dock entrance lock to join Preston’s Road on the other side. A lengthening of the lock to accommodate larger ships around 1920 meant moving the bridge further east. Manchester Road of course had to be slightly rerouted too. (Click here for an article about Glen Terrace).

Glen Terrace, 575 Manchester Road and higher

Occupants of Glen Terrace during the 1960s were as follows:

  • No. 575. Jean & Ronald Henning, Frederick Isley, Gwendoline Somers
  • No. 577. Hall family
  • No. 579. Booth family
  • No. 581. Pringle family
  • No. 583. Gwyther family
  • No. 585. Mary Manning
  • No. 587. Standen family
  • No. 589. Hewer family, Marsh family, Alfred Melhuish
  • No. 591. Martin family, Mary Timkey
  • No. 593. Babister family, Edit Crawford
  • No. 595. Harriet Ausulin, Edward Jones, Eleanor Pluck
  • No. 597. Beddo family

There was no No. 599 in 1968. It was destroyed during WWII. My article on Glen Terrace (link above previous photo) tells some of the story, including a first-hand account of the incident.

Glen Terrace

  • No, 601. Hart and Smith families
  • No. 603. Jaggs family
  • No. 605. Mills family
  • No. 607. Steeds family
  • No. 609. Dickens and Eversen families
  • No. 611. Hatton family
  • No. 613. Weller family, Emily Witham
  • No. 615. Harding family

Bridge over West India South Dock entrance lock

Bridge over West India South Dock entrance lock

Bridge over West India South Dock entrance lock

This bridge was very noisy, with metallic screeching and groaning as it opened and closed, a sound which could be heard from far away. The bridge was also slow and unreliable, and was replaced by the Blue Bridge in 1969, the year after Hugo took his photos. (Click here for a history of the bridges on this site.)

The photos conclude with more photos of the bridge, including one that shows damage caused by a ship, and another showing The Gun pub on the other side of the entrance lock. I made an animation from the sequence of photos showing the bridge closing as a Sun tug exited the lock. Well…..I thought it was leaving the lock – turns out it was reversing into the lock in order to tow a ship out, and my animation was going backwards. Whoops. I can’t add too much more to the photos of the bridge (not in this article, at least), but they are all included below, for the sake of completeness.

A footnote from me. I mentioned my mixed feelings about the demolition in Manchester Road to make room for George Green’s School. However, by a long way, the arrival of the school was good for my family and myself: my sister went to the school, I enrolled in all sorts of activities and learned photography (which I still love), my parents played badminton, and all of us went to all sorts of socials and discos. (However, I cannot listen to Love Don’t Live Here Anymore, by Rose Royce, without cringing – it was one of those end-of-disco songs for which you were obliged to find a partner for a slow dance, even if you didn’t want to. Thank heavens for the arrival of Punk.)

Another opportunity was presented to me when one of the youth club leaders walked in and shouted to those assembled one evening in 1976, “Who is not going on holiday this year?” I raised my hand, and before you knew it, I was signed up for a sailing adventure from West India Docks to the Netherlands and back, on an old converted sailing lifeboat (the ‘Larvik’). The Blue Bridge had to raise for us as we left – I caused a bridger, whoopee!

Departing for the Netherlands on the Larvik

40 years later, and I live in the Netherlands.

Sláinte Hugo.

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3 Responses to A Walk Round the Isle of Dogs in 1968 (Then & Now) – Part II, Manchester Road (Mostly)

  1. londonhist says:

    Brilliant, thanks Mick. I always enjoy your posts. I have just added the 1940 street directory listing, and feel free to use all of it, if this is of any use in future articles.

    https://london19.com/streets1940M/Manchesterroad.shtml

  2. ken bryant says:

    londonhist link comes up 404?

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