The Island at Sea

It is well known that many Island streets and buildings are (or were) named after ships or barques or other types of sea-going vessel, or have a nautical theme. It is surprising just how many:

Akbar House, Alastor House, Arethusa House, Argyle House, Barque Street, Bowsprit Point, Brassey House, Brig Street, Capstan Square, Carvel House, Castalia Square, Clipper House, Conway House, Exmouth House, Finwhale House, Fishing Smack Public House, Galleon House, Great Eastern Public House, Halyard House, Harbinger School, Hesperus Crescent, Kedge House, Kelson House, Killoran House, Knighthead Point, Launch Street, Lingard House, Llandovery House, Macquarie Way, Mast House Terrace, Michigan House, Midship Point, Montcalm House, Montfort House, Montrose House, Pinnace House, Quarterdeck, Rawalpindi House, Rodney House, Schooner Street/House/Close, Ship Public House, Ship Street, Spinnaker House, Tamar House, Thermopylae Gate, Topmast Point, Triton House, Warspite House.

Not to mention those names to do with sailors and sea voyagers (Nelson, Chichester, Cabot, etc) or with shipbuilding (Dunbar, Yarrow, Samuda, Mast House, etc).

I thought it time to catalogue everything as much as I could. I expected this article to be a dry statement of facts – and admittedly that’s what it is in some places – but research also revealed dramatic and tragic stories. The sea was evidentally a hard place, and although these stories have an only tangential connection with the Island, they are worth retelling.

Akbar House, Cahir Street

See section on Arethusa House, below, for old photo.

The Akbar was a Protestant reformatory ship for boys who had been in trouble with the law (basically,  a floating borstal). It was moored in the Mersey from the latter part of the
nineteenth century, along with other educational ships:

  • Clarence, a reformatory ship for Catholic boys
  • Training Ship Indefatigable, for poor and orphaned boys whose fathers were seamen
  • HMS Conway, for training boys from better off backgrounds to be officers in the Merchant Navy


Conway, Akbar and Indefatigable

Life was tough on the reformatory school ships, and corporal punishment routine. In 1994, the BBC interviewed George Kirby, born in Liverpool in 1922, who had been an inmate on the boys’ training ship Cornwall, moored in the Thames. The video includes some shots from a newsreel item about the training ship Arethusa, filmed in 1931, not long before George’s ‘education’.

The training ships on the Mersey closed after World War II, due to the drop in demand in Britain for merchant seamen.

Alastor House, Strattondale Street

The barque ‘Alastor’ was built in Sunderland in 1875. Sold to Norwegian owners in 1895 she traded under the Finnish flag from 1928 until June 1939, when she carried timber from Sweden to Millwall Docks, her last commercial voyage. After that she was laid up in the Blackwater Estuary in Essex and then used for military purposes for the duration of the war.

The original caption for this photo describes it as the Alastor in either in Millwall Docks or Birkenhead. Doesn’t look like Millwall Docks to me.

Barque Alastor

Post-war she was renamed Bounty and used as a restuarant at Ramsgate (not a commercial success). There were plans to tow her up the Thames to feature as an attraction at the Festival of Britain, but these plans came to nothing and she was broken up at Grays c1952.

Alastor as ‘Bounty’, Ramsgate

Arethusa House, Cahir Street

Arethusa House (L), Akbar House (R)

HMS Arethusa was a 50-gun frigate, launched in 1849 from the Pembroke Dockyard and served in the Crimean War. In 1861 she was converted to a steam screw frigate.

Decommissioned in 1874, Arethusa became a school and training ship at Greenhithe on the Thames, providing refuge and teaching maritime skills to destitute young boys who had been sleeping rough on the streets of London, training them for a career in the Royal Navy or Merchant Navy. She was broken up in 1934 (but replaced by another ship which was renamed Arethusa).

See the section on Alastor House, above, for film of the Arethusa.

Arethusa, c1900

That ships were dangerous places is revealed by this gravestone at the churchyard of St. Philip, Penn Fields, Wolverhampton. I read elsewhere that the boy’s death was the result of an accident, but have no further details. The Bible quote (from Isaiah 43:2) does infer that he drowned.

Argyle House, Marshfield Street

Argyle House, like other blocks in the neighbourhood, is named after a merchant ship which was a regular visitor to Millwall Docks. However, an internet search reveals two ships named SS Argyle, one of which was lost off Cuba in 1946 and the other deliberately scuttled in Scapa Flow in 1914 in order to block a sea passage to deny access to enemy ships. It does seem odd to name a block of flats after a ship which was lost at sea, so I’m going for the scuttled SS Argyle.

SS Argyle

Built in 1872 by Gilbert & Cooper, Hull, the SS Argyle was requisitioned by the Admiralty in 1914. The vessel was scuttled in Skerry Sound on the 17th September 1914.

During World War I strong defences were put in place throughout Scapa Flow to protect the British ships against attack. Anti-submarine netting was suspended across some of the larger channels into the Flow. Blockships were deliberately sunk in the smaller channels to further prevent the possibility of the Germans gaining access into Scapa Flow.

If you’re into diving, you can always go visit the wreck:

WWI blockships in Scapa Flow

Barque Street

Revealing yet again my ignorance of maritime matters, I had to look up ‘barque’ in an online dictionary to find out what that means. It is:

…a sailing ship, typically with three masts, in which the foremast and mainmast are square-rigged and the mizzenmast is rigged fore and aft.

Mmm, I think I am a little the wiser.

Bowsprit Point, Barkantine Estate

A bowsprit is:

..a spar running out from a ship’s bow, to which the forestays are fastened

The bowsprit of the Cutty Sark

Brassey House, Cahir Street

The only entry in this article named for a person and not a ship. I made the exception because all the other buildings on the estate in Cahir Street are named after (training) ships, and it was Lord Brassey who played a key part in their establishment (the ships, that is).

In 1880 Brassey’s book The British Navy was published. In 1886, he started The Naval Annual (generally referred to as Brassey’s Naval Annual). In the year 1890 it was felt by Brassey and a few others that it was time some effort was made to better train apprentices, because at the time apprentices were being used merely as drudges to do all the dirty work aboard ship, and were not receiving in instruction in navigation and other skills.

Known as the ‘Brassey Scheme’, vessels were acquired by Brassey and his business partners. Apart from practical seamanship, training instructions were provided on board the vessels to teach the cadets arithmetic, algebra, geometry, navigation and nautical astronomy. The first vessels acquired for the new scheme were the iron ships Harbinger and Hesperus.

Brig Street

A brig is:

…a two-masted square-rigged ship, typically having an additional lower fore-and-aft sail on the gaff and a boom to the mainmast.

A brig

Capstan Square

A capstan is:

… a broad revolving cylinder with a vertical axis used for winding a rope or cable, powered by a motor or pushed round by levers.

Royal Navy cadets pushing a capstan

Carvel House, Manchester Road

Carvel built or carvel planking:

… is a method of boat building where hull planks are fastened edge to edge, gaining support from the frame and forming a smooth surface.

In contrast with clinker built hulls, where planked edges overlap, carvel construction gives a stronger hull, capable of taking a variety of full-rigged sail plans, albeit one of greater weight. In addition, it enables greater length and breadth of hull and superior sail rigs because of its strong framing, and is one of the critical developments that led to the preeminence of Western European seapower during the Age of Sail and beyond.

Clinker and carvel comparison

Castalia Square

Castalia Square in the 1970s

The Castalia was an unusual twin-hulled paddle steamer built in 1874 by the Thames Ironwork and Shipbuilding Company for the English Channel Steamship Company. It was designed by the worryingly-named Captain Dicey, who thought that the twin hull would make the vessel more stable, thus leading to less seasickness among the passengers (there was room for 700).


Aboard the Castalia

Not a success – in large part because it was simply too slow – the ship was advertised for sale in 1881 on the instruction of the mortgagees, Messrs Bailey & Ridley. Two years later it was sold to the Metropolitan Asylums Board who converted it into a hospital ship for contagious diseases (primarily smallpox) with room for 150 female patients (male patients were housed in another ship, the Atlas, moored adjacent to the Castalia). Its engine and paddles were removed, and hospital blocks were built on the by-then bare deck. In 1885, it was reported that a child born on board the ship had been named Castalia.

After conversion to hospital ship, off Dartford.

On 9 December 1898, the SS Barrowmore was in collision with the Castalia. Some of the patients jumped overboard. Castalia had to be dry docked for repairs at the yard of Blackwall firm, John Stewart. In December 1904,  she was sold by auction at the Bull Hotel, Dartford, Kent, for breaking.

Clipper House, Manchester Road

A clipper is:

…a fast sailing ship, especially one of 19th-century design with concave bows and raked masts.

The clipper, Cutty Sark in 1869

Conway House, Cahir Street

Conway House (nearmost, bottom left) immediately after WWII.

HMS Conway was a naval training school or “school ship”, founded in 1859 and housed for most of her life aboard a 19th-century wooden ship of the line. The ship was originally stationed on the Mersey near Liverpool, then moved to the Menai Strait during World War II.

Launched in June 1839, she was entirely built from West African hardwoods and copper fastened, with copper sheathing anti-fouling to her under parts. She had survived the Baltic Blockade during the Crimean War, later protecting British possessions in the Caribbean and ‘showing the flag’ along the eastern seaboard of North America 50 years after the British surrender at Yorktown.

HMS Conway

HMS Conway


While being towed back to Birkenhead for a refit in 1953, she ran aground and was wrecked, and later burned.

“What was it you said, sir, Port is right, and Starboard is left?”

Exmouth House, Cahir Street

There were two training ships named Exmouth: No 1 from 1876 to 1905 and No. 2 from 1905 to 1939. The first ship was loaned to The Metropolitan Asylums Board by the Admiralty and had been named after Viscount Exmouth.

The Exmouth was laid down in 1840 and was a screw ship of 91 guns. She was commissioned in 1855 and served with the Baltic Fleet. She was crewed by some 500 boys. The Exmouth was replaced by another vessel named Exmouth in 1905 and remained anchored off Grays until 1939. The second Exmouth remained at Grays until the start of World War II when she was used for other purposes.

TS Exmouth

TS Exmouth

TS Exmouth

Finwhale House, Glengall Grove

HMS Finwhale (S05) was the fifth Porpoise class submarine of the Royal Navy. She was launched on 21 July 1959 and first commissioned on 19 August 1960. During her first commission she went further under the ice than any other submarine at the time. She was recommissioned on 27 January 1964. In March 1965 on her second Arctic patrol she further eclipsed her first ice patrol, penetrating 95 miles into the ice. She was used as a harbour training vessel between 1979 and 1987. She left under tow for scrapping in Spain on 28 March 1988.

HMS Finwhale (L), HMS Alcide (R) – in West India Docks

HMS Finwhale in West India Docks

HMS Alcide (L), HMS Finwhale (R) – in West India Docks

HMS Finwhale in a warmer looking climate.

Fishing Smack Public House, Cold Harbour

A smack was a traditional fishing boat used off the coast of Britain and the Atlantic coast of America for most of the 19th century and, in small numbers, up to the Second World War. Large numbers smacks operated in fleets from ports in the UK such as Brixham, Grimsby and Lowestoft as well as at locations along the Thames Estuary. In England the sails were white cotton until a proofing coat was applied, usually after the sail was a few years old. This gave the sails its distinctive red ochre colour, which made them a picturesque sight in large numbers.

A smack near Brightlingsea (I do think they are pretty boats).

Galleon House, Glengarnock Avenue

Galleon House (left)

A galleon was:

…a sailing ship in use (especially by Spain) from the 15th to the 18th centuries, originally as a warship, later for trade. Galleons were typically square-rigged and had three or more decks and masts.

A galleon. Does this look like a block of flats?

Great Eastern Public House

Two Great Easterns for the price of one. The first (actually, the last), in Glenaffric Avenue, and formerly known as the Waterman’s Arms, and – before that – the Newcastle Arms. The second (actually, the the first), on the corner of Westferry Road (foreground) and Harbinger Road (right), and destroyed during the Blitz. The playground of Harbinger Primary School is now on the site.

I discussed the Great Eastern at length in this article.


D51533 The ‘Great Eastern’ under construction at Millwall

Halyard House

A halyard is:

…a rope used for raising and lowering a sail, yard, or flag on a sailing ship.

They could have also just called it a rope.

Harbinger School

My school.

The Harbinger was the last sailing ship specially built and fitted for carrying passengers. In more ways than one she was a remarkable vessel, and differed in many interesting details from the stock type of Clyde-built iron clipper. In her rigging and sail plan, she had various fittings which were peculiar to herself.

To begin with, she was the only iron ship which had the old-fashioned channels to spread the rigging: and in another way she went back many years by never bending a sail on her crossjack yard. Instead of this sail she spread a large hoisting spanker, and she always carried a main spencer or storm trysail, a sail very often seen on down east Cape Horners, who found it very useful when trying to make westing off Cape Stiff.

Harbinger was a very lofty ship, measuring 210 feet from the water-line to her main truck, and, unlike the Hesperus, she always carried her skysail yards crossed. Her jibbooms were of unusual length—I say jibbooms, for outside her ordinary jibboom she carried a sliding gunter or flying jibboom. On these she set a whole fleet of jibs, and, as if they were not sufficient, she had cliphooks for a storm staysail on the fore stay.

I have no idea what that was all about, but I am well impressed with the concept of a ‘hoisting spanker’.

Hesperus Crescent

In 1873-4 Robert Steele & Co., the celebrated builders and designers of some of the fastest and most beautiful tea clippers, built two magnificent iron clippers for the Orient Line. These were the Hesperus and Aurora, sister ships. In 1890, the Hesperus was bought by Devitt & Moore for Lord Brassey’s training scheme.

Kedge House, Tiller Road

A kedge is a an anchor, much like the traditional form we would draw if asked to draw a picture of an anchor.

A kedge anchor

Kelson House

A kelson or keelson is:

…the member which, particularly in a wooden vessel, lies parallel with its keel but above the transverse members such as timbers, in order to provide the framework more stiffness.


Killoran House, Galbraith Street

S.S. Killoran was built by the Alilsa Shipbuilding Company of Troon and was launched in 1900.

On August 10th, 1940, the barque Killoran was sunk by the German auxiliary cruiser Widder under command of Korvetten-Kapitän von Rückteschell. It has been reported that the commandant of the Widder was reluctant to sink Killoran, and that it was the ship surgeon who pressed him into doing it.

The surgeon had been filming the voyage, and needed the sinking to have a good ending to the film, and threatened to report the commandant to Berlin if it was not done. The true seamen on board the Widder regarded the sinking as a murder.

Killoran was owned at time of her sinking by a finnish shipowner (Gustav Erikson). At the same time (August 1940), Germany delivered troops to Finland to assist their war against Russia. In the movie, it was told that the Killoran was sailing for British orders and must have been sunk for this reason.


SS Killoran

SS Killoran in Britannia Dry Dock

SS Killoran in Britannia Dry Dock

SS Killoran in Britannia Dry Dock, visible behind the houses in Deptford Ferry Road

The sinking of the Killoran, 10th August 1940

Knighthead Point, Barkantine Estate

A knighthead is:

…either of two timbers rising from the keel of a sailing ship and supporting the upper end of the bowsprit.

Launch Street

A launch is an open motorboat. Originally a launch was the largest boat carried by a warship in the age of sail. The word comes from the Spanish lancha (“barge”) and Portuguese, from Malay lancharan (“boat”), from lanchar (“velocity without effort”).

On the River Thames the term “launch” is used to mean any motorised pleasure boat. The usage arises from the legislation governing the management of the Thames and laying down the categories of boats and the tolls for which they were liable.

Lingard House, Marshfield Street

Built in 1893 in Norway, and sold in 1915 to Adelaide company, T. Wardle & Co. who renamed her Wathara. In 1925 she was sold to the Finnish company Gustaf Erikson who restored her name to Lingard. In 1935, on a voyage to Millwall Docks with timber, she collided with the Swedish SS Gerd which was hit in the side and sunk with the loss of the entire crew. The Lingard suffered heavy damages and was towed to Gothenburg, Sweden where she was condemned. After becoming a club house for the Norsk Sejlskute Klubb (Norwegian Sailing Club) and a storage hulk for the Germany army, she was scrapped in 1946 (however, part of the aft deck is taken care of by the Norsk Sjøfartsmuseum, Oslo).

Llandovery House, Chipka Street

 Built in 1914 in Glasgow as RMS Llandovery Castle for the Union-Castle Line, was one of five Canadian hospital ships that served in the First World War. On a voyage from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Liverpool, England, the ship was torpedoed off southern Ireland on 27 June 1918. The sinking was the deadliest Canadian naval disaster of the war. Tragically, 234 doctors, nurses, members of the Canadian Army Medical Corps, soldiers and seamen died in the sinking and subsequent machine-gunning of lifeboats. Only 24 people, the occupants on a single life-raft, survived. The incident became infamous internationally as one of the war’s worst atrocities. After the war, the case of Llandovery Castle was one of six British cases presented at the Leipzig trials.

After the war, the captain of U-86, LieutenantHelmut Patzig, and two of his lieutenants, Ludwig Dithmar and John Boldt, were arraigned for trial in Germany on war crimes. On July 21, 1921, Dithmar and Boldt were tried and convicted in the case became famous as one of the “Leipzig trials”. Patzig was able to avoid prosecution as he fled the country and avoided extradition; and though Dithmar and Boldt were convicted and sentenced to four years in prison, they both escaped. At the Court of Appeal, both lieutenants were acquitted on the grounds that the captain was solely responsible.

The sinking of the Llandovery Castle

Macquarie Way

Photo: Island History Trust

Sydney Morning Herald, 1953:

Last Days Of The Old Clipper Ship Macquarie By A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

“FOR sale by tender. Floating mechanical coaling plant Fortuna . . .as she lies.”

This advertisement, which appeared recently in the “Herald,” marked the last chapter in the story of one of the most celebrated of the old wool and passenger clippers. The Sydney Harbour coal hulk Fortuna, in thc days of her prime when she was called the Macquarie, was a great name on the England-Australia route.

Her story began on a June morning in 1875, when the firm of R. and H. Green, of Blackwall on the Thames, launched an iron ship for their own use. Into it they had put the finest materials, including plates originally stockpiled for a South American man-of-war. The new ship bore upon her bow and stern the name “Melbourne,” after the port with which she was to carry on most of her trade.

Her dimensions proclaim her to have been a really big ship as wind-ships went – 1,852- tons’ register, 269. feet long, and 40 feet in beam. In comfort she was a great advance on her predecessors. Her cabins and saloon, panelled in cedar, were larger, better lit, better furnished and more adequately ventilated than was the general custom of those days.

She carried a surgeon, and with her one-time consort “Sobraon ” later H.M.A.S. “Tingira.” was known, as a “hospital ship because the men of Harley Street and Macquarie Street so
often prescribed tor their patients a sea voyage in one of these comfortable vessels.

Until 1887 “Melbourne” traded to thc Victorian capital. In thal year Greens sold her to Devitt and Moore, who placed her in the Sydney trade. On her arrival on December 27, the shipping and shiploving community turned out in force to admire the big iron Blackwaller towing up to Central Wharf, Miller’s Point. They noted her splendid appearance, the long line of painted ports, and the heavily gilded gallery of imitation windows, painted on the stern, indicative of ber direct descent from the East lndiamen of seventy years and more earlier. Most of those frigate-built ships were of teak construction, and three only were fashioned in Iron.

“Melbourne” was the third’ and last. In 1888 her name was changed to “Macquarie.” She was undoubtedly best known in Australia under this name.

A new period in her career opened in 1897, when she became one of Lord Brassey’s cadet ships, still under the ownership of Devitt and Moore, providing, ocean training under sail for the future officers of the British Merchant Service. Her fittings were of the best for this- purpose, and a special schoolroom was constructed in the ‘tween decks for instruction in matters of theory – over 200 midshipmen and cadets. passing through her in her six years as a schoolship.

In these latter years sail owners were resigned to thc encroachment of steam. Nevertheless Devitts kept “Macquarie” and her consort “Illawarra” In service as long as possible. They disposed of the former in 1904 “to Norwegian interests. She had cost £46,750 to build, but her new owners got her for a mere £4,500 – and at the same time changed her name to “Fortuna.” As such she traded to many parts of’the world, making at least two visits to Australia.

But another change was in store for her. In 1909 the Wallarah Coal Co. bought her for a coal hulk in Sydney harbour. Mechanical coaling gear was fitted in 1920, capable of delivering 200 tons of-coal into a steamer’s bunkers per bour, and tho old ship pursued this grimy, but most useful trade, until a few weeks-ago.

So many of her owner’s former clients now fire their ships with oil fuel that the need for a mobile coal hulk is almost negligible, the shore gear at Ball’s Head providing all that is required. Also, the 78-year-old hull would require expensive repairs if she were to continue in service.

Whatever becomes of her In the near future, the picture of this lordly and spotless ship as she was in her great’days, surging along under a press of sail, will Fix this textbe in the minds of all who admire the old ships: . – “For Sale by tender ? . . as she lies.” the old Fortuna has been bought, and it is understood that her new owner will have her broken up. So passes the last of the Blackwall’ Frigates, and the very last deep sea sailing ship built upon the Thames.


Michigan House, Westferry Road

The SS Michigan was built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast in 1891 as a cargo ship with limited passenger accommodation.The Michigan was sold to the U.S. government in 1898 for service as a military transport during the Spanish-American War. In 1899 she was renamed Kilpatrick and was allocated to the Atlantic fleet. In August 1909 she participated in war games off the coast of Massachusetts, pretending to be “a modern battleship of the all-big-gun type” stationed to protect the landing of troops intent on ‘capturing’ New Bedford.

In 1920 the USAT Kilpatrick was sold to the American Black Sea Line, renamed Acropolis, rebuilt to 5,083 tons (including the weight of a dummy funnel), and fitted out with accommodation for 250-cabin and 600-third class passengers. She sailed as an emigrant ship between New York, Piraeus, and Constantinople between April 1921 and September 1922. She was sold in 1923 to the American owned Booras Steamship Company and renamed Washington. She commenced the first of two voyages for her new owners on May 1, 1923, leaving New York for Piraeus and Constantinople, and the second and last on July 7, 1923, when she sailed from New York via Boston. Later the same year she was sold to T. C. Phelps, of New York, who renamed her Great Canton and scrapped her the following year in Italy.

Midship Point

The midship is:

…the portion of a ship between the bow and the stern.

Montcalm House

The Montcalm was built for the African Steamship Company and managed by the Elder, Dempster Line. She carred accommodation for 12-second class passengers and was fitted to carry cattle eastbound and emigrants westbound. The Montcalm sailed on her maiden voyage from Avonmouth to Montreal and was chartered by the Atlantic Transport Line in November 1898. She commenced direct London to New York services on December 24 of that year. In 1898 her shade deck was enclosed and in 1899 she was rebuilt to 6,981 gross tons. January 27, 1900 saw her sail on her last London to New York voyage. On April 5, 1900, she sailed for Capetown as a Boer War transport and completed six New Orleans to Capetown voyages.

June 1902 saw her sail on the first of four Avonmouth to Montreal voyages and in 1903 she was sold to the Canadian Pacific Line. In August 1914 was requisitioned by the British Admiralty and was used as a transport with the British Expeditionary Force until October when she was converted into a dummy of the battleship HMS Audacious. As such, she was one of several decoy ships based at Scapa Flow while the real vessels were at sea. When this fleet of decoys was disbanded in 1915 she became a naval store ship.

She was purchased by the British Admiralty in January 1916 and operated by the Leyland Line. She was converted to a tanker that October and transferred to the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company (Shell) as the Crenella. She was torpedoed by U 101 off Ireland on November 26, 1917, but managed to reach port.

After the war she was purchased by the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company, and in 1920 was to Runciman’s Velefa Shipping Company of London. In 1923 she was sold to Christian Nielson & Co., and became a Norwegian whaling depot ship renamed Rey Alfonso. By 1925 she was owned by H. M. Wrangell & Co., of Haugesund and in 1927 was sold to the Anglo-Norse Co., of Tronsberg and renamed Anglo-Norse. She was sold yet again in 1929 to the Falkland Whaling Company and renamed Polar Chief.

Laid up for the 1930 season, in 1941 ownership transferred to the Ministry of War for service as a transport, and she was renamed Empire Chief. She survived the war and was returned to the South Georgia Company in 1946 under her previous name, Polar Chief. She was finally scrapped at Dalmuir in Scotland in 1953.

Montfort House, Galbraith Street

The “Montfort” was built in 1899 by Palmers Co Ltd, Jarrow-on-Tyne for Elder
Dempster’s Beaver Line. She was a 5,519 gross ton ship, length 445ft x beam
52.2ft, one funnel, four masts, twin screw and a speed of 13 knots. Built
primarily as a cargo vessel, she had accommodation for only 12-1st class

Launched on 13/2/1899, she sailed from the Tyne on her maiden voyage to
Quebec and Montreal on 26/4/1899. In May 1899 she made her first of four
Avonmouth – Montreal passages. She was transferred to trooping duties for
the Boer War and commenced her first of three Liverpool – Capetown voyages
on 11/11/1899. She also made one round voyage from each of Halifax, New
Orleans and Fiume to Capetown.

In 1900 she was refitted to carry 30-1st class and 1,200-3rd class
passengers and her tonnage increased to 7,087 tons. Her first passenger
voyage between Liverpool, Quebec and Montreal commenced on 17/7/1900 and she
received several refits to various tonnages between 1901-1903. In 1903, the
“Montfort” went to Canadian Pacific together with the rest of Beaver Line’s
Canadian fleet and her accommodation was altered to carry 30-2nd and
1,200-3rd class passengers. The following year the company switched it’s
service from Avonmouth to London/Antwerp to Canada and on the eastbound
journey, the third class berths were frequently dismantled in Montreal and
replaced with portable stalls to carry upwards of 1,200 head of cattle to

In 1909, she was again rebuilt to 6,578 tons and on 6/12/1916 was torpedoed
and sunk by the German submarine U.55, 170 miles from Bishops Rock, Scilly
Islands, with the loss of 5 lives.

Montrose House

The SS Montrose  was built by the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company in Glasgow, Scotland, as the passenger ship SS Montrose for the Canadian Pacific Steamships Company and was launched on 14 December 1920, sponsored by Lady Raeburn, the wife of the Director-General of the British Ministry of Shipping.

Montrose ran aground on 7 August 1925 in the Saint Lawrence River in Canada.[1] She was refloated on 10 August 1925 and drydocked for repairs to her rudder and port propeller.

On 31 July 1928, Montrose collided with the British cargo ship Rose Castle in the Saint Lawrence River, Quebec, Canada; Rose Castle beached herself to avoid sinking but was refloated on 3 August 1928.

On 4 September 1939, Montrose was requisitioned by the British Admiralty for World War II service with the Royal Navy and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. Her conversion was completed on 6 November 1939 and she was commissioned into Royal Navy service as HMS Forfar (F30).

Pinnace House, Samuda Estate

A pinnace is:

…a light boat which was carried aboard larger boats or ships, mainly used as a tender.

A pinnace aboard a sailing ship


A quarterdeck is:

…a raised deck behind the main mast of a sailing ship. Traditionally it was where the captain commanded his vessel and where the ship’s colours were kept. This led to it being used as the main ceremonial and reception area on board, and the word is still used to refer to such an area on a ship of even in naval establishments on land.

Rawalpindi House

HMS Rawalpindi was a British armed merchant cruiser, (a converted passenger ship intended to raid and sink enemy merchant shipping) that was sunk in a surface action against the German battleships Scharnhorstand and Gneisenau during the first months of the Second World War.

Rawalpindi was requisitioned by the Admiralty on 26 August 1939 and converted into an armed merchant cruiser by the addition of eight elderly 6 in (150 mm) guns and two 3 in (76 mm) guns. She was set to work from October 1939 in the Northern Patrol covering the area around Iceland. On 19 October in the Denmark Strait, Rawalpindi intercepted the German tanker Gonzenheim (4,574 grt), which had left Buenos Aires on 14 September. The tanker was scuttled by her crew before a boarding party could get on board.

Whilst patrolling north of the Faroe Islands on 23 November 1939, she investigated a possible enemy sighting, only to find that she had encountered two of the most powerful German warships, the battle cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, which had been conducting a sweep between Iceland and the Faroes. Rawalpindi was able to signal the German ships’ location back to base. Despite being hopelessly outgunned, 60-year-old Captain Edward Coverley Kennedy RN of Rawalpindi decided to fight, rather than surrender as demanded by the Germans. He was heard to say “We’ll fight them both, they’ll sink us, and that will be that. Good-bye”.

The German warships sank Rawalpindi within 40 minutes. She managed to score one hit on Scharnhorst, which caused minor splinter damage. 238 men died on Rawalpindi, including Captain Kennedy. Thirty-seven men were rescued by the German ships, a further 11 were picked up by HMS Chitral (another converted passenger ship). Captain Kennedy — the father of naval officer, broadcaster and author Ludovic Kennedy — was posthumously Mentioned in Dispatches.

Rodney House

Schooner Street/House/Close

Ship Street, briefly named Schooner Street before George Green’s School was built on its site.

A schooner is:

… a type of sailing vessel with fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts, the foremast being shorter than the main and no taller than the mizzen if there is one. While the schooner was originally gaff-rigged, modern schooners typically carry a Bermuda rig.


Spinnaker House, Byng Street

A spinnaker is:

… a sail designed specifically for sailing off the wind from a reaching course to a downwind, i.e. with the wind 90°–180° off bow. The spinnaker fills with wind and balloons out in front of the boat when it is deployed, called flying. It is constructed of lightweight fabric, usually nylon, and is often brightly coloured. It may be optimised for a particular range of wind angles, as either a reaching or a running spinnaker, by the shaping of the panels and seams. Some types of spinnaker can be carried by the side of the boat, but still in front of the mast. This is called “flying a shy spinnaker”, and is used for reaching.


Tamar House, Plevna Street

HMS Tamar was a Royal Navy troopship built by the Samuda Brothers, and launched in Britain in 1863. She served as a supply ship from 1897 to 1941, and gave her name to the shore station HMS Tamar in Hong Kong (1897 to 1997).

The 1863 incarnation of HMS Tamar was the fourth to bear that name, which is derived from the River Tamar, in Cornwall, and the ship’s crest is based on its coat of arms.

Tamar was dual-powered with masts and a steam engine, giving a speed of 12 knots. She originally had two funnels, but she was re-equipped with a more advanced boiler and reduced to one funnel.

In 1874, she formed part of the Naval Brigade that helped to defeat the Ashanti in West Africa, during the Ashanti War. Tamar took part in the bombardment of Alexandria in 1882.

In 1897 Tamar was hulked as a base ship and relieved HMS Victor Emmanuel as the Hong Kong receiving ship. She was used as a base ship until replaced by the shore station, which was named HMS Tamar, after the ship.

The Tamar had been towed out to a buoy on 8 December during the Battle of Hong Kong during World War II. Amidst a curfew of darkness and bombardment by the Japanese forces, the orders came at 2100 hours on 11 December to scuttle her. She was scuttled at the buoy on 12 December 1941 once it was clear that the advance could not be arrested, to avoid being used by the invading Japanese Imperial forces. As the ship’s superstructure became airlocked, the ship refused to sink for some time, until the Royal Artillery was called in to administer the coup de grâce.

A mast from this ship is now erected outside Murray House in Stanley, Hong Kong.

In late 2014, during dredging work for the Central–Wan Chai Bypass, the remains of what strongly appears to be HMS Tamar were discovered at the location where she is believed to have been scuttled.


HMS Tamar in Malta

Thermopylae Gate

Thermopylae was built for the Aberdeen Line, which was founded in 1825 by George Thompson. Thermopylae was designed for the China tea trade, and set speed records on her maiden voyage to Melbourne—63 days, still the fastest trip under sail.

In 1872, Thermopylae raced the clipper Cutty Sark from Shanghai back to London. Thermopylae won by seven days after Cutty Sark lost her rudder. From 1882 onward, Thermopylae took part in the Australian wool trade; however, on this route Cutty Sark proved faster.

In 1897 she was sold to Portugal for use as a naval training ship and renamed Pedro Nunes. On 13 October 1907, the Portuguese Navy towed her down the Tagus river using two warships, and before Amelia de Orleans, Queen of Portugal, she was torpedoed with full naval honours off Cascais.

Topmast Point

Traditional ships’ masts are not single spars but are made of two or even three spars. The mast above the lower mast (aka mizzen, main or fore mast) is known as the topmast.

Topmast, which is not at the top, those pesky maritime people.

Triton House, Cahir Street

Built at Blackwall in 1846, fitted out and commissioned at Chatham a year later.

17 Oct 1854 1st Bombardment of Sebastopol – see p. 437 at

24 Nov 1857 departed England for anti-slavery duties on the West Coast of Africa.

8 Feb 1858 off Tachin, boarded the Spanish brig Don Juan in accordance with the appropriate Treaty for the suppression of the Slave Trade.

18 Mar 1858 ashore enquiring about slaves for the schooner Hanover, supposed to be lurking in the offing. Remained in search of the human cargo that the Hanover hoped to slip in and embark, in order that the Triton would be ready for her.

4 Feb 1859 when at anchor off Killongo observed a vessel in the offing : following a chase of 4 hours was detained the slave brigantine Name Unknown, supposed George Louhse, and being without flag or papers she was sent for adjudication to the Vice-Admiralty Court at St. Helena and on 7 Mar 1859 sentenced to be condemned. 8 Oct 1860 Prize money due payable.

20 Apr 1859 was in the River Congo when the USS Marion arrived in the River and the the following day seized the American slave barque Orion, with all he crew, which she sent to New York for adjudication, followed a few days later by the American brig Ardennes, who arrived in the River with the Pluto, in which case Commander Brent of the Marion considered that the master had perjured himself to the authorities at Jacksonville by stating that he was sailing for the Canaries, whereas he never went near the islands, nor had any intention of doing so despite having 2 “passengers” on board who had been furnished with passports for those islands, but were most probably more interested in the vessel’s prospective slave cargo ?

4 Jul 1859 detained a slave schooner, Name Unknown, which was sent for adjudication to the Vice-Admiralty Court at St. Helena and sentenced to be condemned.

8 Aug 1859 anchored near Point Padrone, having spoken to the Vesuvius to the south of Snake’s Head, regarding various meetings the Triton had had with the American ship Memphis, which when first visited was supposedly disguised as a whaler, whilst plainly engaged in the slave trade, and that her movements were closely watched from 14 Jul when her movements became most suspicious.

8 Aug 1859 having received information from the ship’s boats that the suspected American slave vessels Ottawa and Lillie Mills had gone up the River Congo to Punta da Lenha, departed in pursuit to anchor in company with them and on 10 Aug went on board the Lillie Mills to inspect her papers. Her master, R. H. Weeks, stated that he was a former RN seaman who had served on board HMS Dido in 1848, who now claimed to be a citizen of the United States.

11 Aug 1859 followed the Ottawa down river, which being so closely watched left the river for the sea and thence to the southward, and was suspected of seeking a slave cargo elsewhere, such as Ambrizette or Moanda.

17 Aug 1859 detained off Bahia Fonda, a few miles to the north of Ambriz after a chase of over 3 hours the slave schooner, Name Unknown, supposed Juana, and without papers or flag, her crew having deserted, which was sent under the command of Mr. Edward C. Smyth, Second Master, for adjudication to the Vice-Admiralty Court at St. Helena and on 15 Sep 1859 sentenced to be condemned.

11 Sep 1859 boarded the American ship (former barque) Emily, which had been acting suspiciously by anchoring the previous evening in Bahia Fonda Bay, only normally used by vessels involved in the slave trade, however her papers being in order she was allowed to go about her business.

13 Oct 1859 boarded the American brig Taverier, of New York, which, whilst her papers appeared to be in order, it being noted that there was no means of proving their authenticity, and raised some points which might suggest that there did appear to be some problems with the papers, but that could only be resolved by a U.S.N. officer, which would appear to have been confirmed by the fact that she was detained by the Viper on the 4 Nov 1859 with 518 negroes on board.

22 Dec 1859 with the Viper, chased a slave brig, Name Unknown, but supposed Dos Hermanos, but lost her.

24 Dec 1859 chased and detained in Lat. 7° 17′ S., long. 12° 14′ E., off Bahia Fonda, a slave brig, Name Unknown, supposed Dos Hermanos, about 200 tons, as she was preparing to embark her human cargo. She was sent to the Vice-Admiralty Court at St. Helena for adjudication in the charge of Master’s Assistant C. J. Bigley and on 23 Jan 1860 sentenced to be condemned.

9-10 Jan 1860 detained in Lat. 5° 8′ S., long. 11° 52′ E., a slave barque Name unknown, supposed Pamphylia, with 6-700 slaves on board, 200 youngsters, for their own safety, being removed to the Triton, both vessels departing for the adjudication to the Vice-Admiralty Court at St. Helena where on the 13 Feb 1860 the Pamphylia was sentenced to be condemned.

13 Apr 1860 detained in Lat. 3° 25′ N., long. 11° 1′ W., a slave ship, Name Unknown, supposed Roanoke, which was sent for adjudication to Sierra Leone and on 25 Apr 1860 sentenced to be condemned.

7 Jan 1861 returned to England from the West Coast of Africa.


Warspite House

Training Ship Warspite was owned by The Marine Society. Originally moored at Woolwich, she was accidently destroyed by fire in 1876. Another ship, HMS Conquerer was obtained from the Royal Navy and it was this ship, renamed Warspite that came to Greenhithe. Her moorings were downstream from Arethusa off from Charles Street. In 1918 by an act of arson by three boys protesting about conditions, she was also destroyed by fire. They’d already had one attempt foiled during the day but suceeded after lights out. In 1922 The Marine Society obtained yet another ship, HMS Hermione, a victorian cruiser and moored her off Greenhithe as Warspite. She lasted about ten years but was moved several times as she was obstructing Everard’s ships and was finally moved to Grays, Essex until she was broken up for the war effort in 1940.

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You say Coldharbour, I say Cold Harbour

We better get this out of the way immediately; I am sure some of you may be asking yourself, “Is Cold Harbour actually a part of the Isle of Dogs?” It’s a valid question – the area has always been isolated from the rest of the Island, and it does have a different feel to it in some respects, heightened by the number of old and sometimes very large houses it contains and the distinct lack of post-war council housing. Not just a different place, but from a different time perhaps (after all, it is the oldest surviving street on the Island).

Deciding on what constitutes the boundaries of the Isle of Dogs has been keeping hundreds (well, a handful) occupied since time began (er…..since Facebook was invented). Being an avid collector of all things to do with Island history, I decided a long time ago that I needed to draw the line somewhere, if only for my own peace of mind. West, south, and east are easy – no arguing with the route of the Thames – and I also decided it should be water that defines the northern boundary; an Island has got to be surrounded by water, right? That made it easier – my Isle of Dogs is bounded in the north by the north side of the Limehouse Entrance Lock, the West India Import Dock, Blackwall Basin and the Blackwall Entrance Lock. (Don’t look for the Limehouse Entrance Lock on a map, by the way, it was filled in decades ago. Westferry Circus is now on its site.) By this definition, Cold Harbour is a part of the Isle of Dogs.

This 1890 map also supports why I spell the streetname Cold Harbour and not Coldharbour. It was always spelled with two words, until the 1950s, when the council replaced the two or three street signs, and misspelled the name. There was no decision to rename the street, it was simply a spelling mistake. This still happens – recently, a street elsewhere on the Island was suddenly spelled “Saundersness Road” – but, with social networking and email and other electrickery, it was not too difficult to bring it to the attention of those who could correct it.

So what, actually, is a Cold Harbour (a common placename throughout the British Isles, sometimes corrupted into Coal or Cole Harbour)? Harbour has nothing to do with shipping – it means harbour in the sense of a refuge, from the Middle English herbergeCold is from a Saxon word, cealt, which means not only cold as in temperature, but also as in bare or uninhabited. According to one definition by G. Basil Barham of the East Herts Archæological Society:

The Cold Harbours are all in the vicinity of one or other of the great Neolithic or Roman roads, and were originally the remains of partially destroyed Roman or Romano-British dwellings, or settlements [sometimes protected by earth walls, timber, or ruined stonework]. Travellers used them as being more or less secure places in which to spend a night. As the places became known, traders gathered there to distribute goods and do business, and eventually the places once more became villages, but retained the old generic name.

Cold Harbour is clearly a very old thoroughfare (or place) – older than the Mill Wall path which went down the west of the Island; older even than Dolphin Lane, (H)Arrow Lane or any of the other medieval lanes which crossed the Island marshes from Poplar in the north. That said, it is difficult to imagine Cold Harbour as being on the route to anywhere. As this 1745 map shows, Cold Harbour was a bit of a dead end – the southern end of Blackwall, a major shipbuilding area of the time.

Survey of London:

Coldharbour is virtually the sole remaining fragment of Old Blackwall. Until relatively recently it was little known and little seen, being obscured by the nondescript industrial premises on the east side of Preston’s Road. These have now been mostly cleared away, exposing what is left of Coldharbour to passers-by in the newly widened Preston’s Road.

The roadway here is the only surviving section of an old riverside road leading southwards from Blackwall Stairs before petering out somewhere near the present entrance to the South Dock of the West India Docks. This old road almost certainly originated as a pathway along the top of the medieval river embankment called the Blackwall. A deed for a house on the east side, leased in 1626, describes the house as having been built on ‘part of the wall commonly called Blackwall’, and the street as ‘the way which lieth on the same wall called Blackwall’. The name Coldharbour …  formerly applied to the whole stretch of roadway, and was only restricted to the southern section after the road had been cut by the construction of the Blackwall entrance to the West India Docks.

Buildings had begun to appear in Coldharbour by the second decade of the seventeenth century, as the wave of development encouraged by the opening of the East India Company’s shipbuilding yard at Blackwall in 1614 gradually spread southwards along the riverfront, and the opening of Browne’s (later Rolt’s) shipyard in the late 1660s probably gave a further boost to the process.

Detail from the 1750 engraving ‘A View of Blackwall looking towards Greenwich’. by Boydell. Cold Harbour is in the centre of this detail.

The construction of the West India Docks disected the riverside road and isolated Cold Harbour from the rest of Blackwall.


William Daniell’s 1802 painting, “An Elevated View of the New Docks & Warehouses now constructing on the Isle of Dogs near Limehouse for the reception & accommodation of Shipping in the West India Trade” provides a very detailed view of Cold Harbour at that time.

I’m jumping around a bit, now, but I find it interesting to compare this with recent aerial photos and maps.

c1950. Photo: Click for large version.



Anyway, back in the 1800s, some larger houses and businesses were built along the riverfront:

1 Cold Harbour, Isle House

Dockmaster’s residence, built for the West India Dock Company in 1825–6, to the designs of their Principal Engineer, (Sir) John Rennie.

3 Cold Harbour, Nelson House

There are stories of Lord Nelson meeting Lady Hamilton in this area – but there is no evidence to suggest a link between him and this house (first purported in 1881). The original Doric columns on either side of the front door were stolen in the 1980s – who steals Doric columns, is there a market for Doric columns? Survey of London:

In 1924–5 the house was converted into two dwellings, for occupation by PLA police families, by the introduction of a glazed screen (burnt in the fire in 1990) across the first-floor landing, and the conversion of the north-west room on the first floor to a bathroom and the south-west room on the top floor to a kitchen. In 1935 the PLA granted a 21-year lease of Nos 1 and 3 to the Bethnal Green and East London Housing Association, which divided the properties for letting to weekly tenants.

5 & 7 Cold Harbour

Survey of London:

Probably the two houses built here in 1809 by Richard Gibbs, a local shipwright, but a rebuilding in the early 1820s cannot be ruled out. The houses erected about 1809 replaced the two shown in Daniell’s view. By 1799 the northern house, whose site had been leased to Ralph Mayne in 1637, was ’empty and ruinous’, and it was pulled down before 1807, when Gibbs bought the freehold of the empty site, together with the standing house to the south.

In 1834 No. 5 was let to the West India Dock Company for an Assistant Dockmaster’s house, and No. 7 was similarly occupied from 1851. The dockmasters left when the leases expired in 1871. Between 1877 and 1890 one, or possibly both, of the properties were partly occupied as a coffee house. According to the directories, the proprietor in 1881 was William Keld, but the census shows that there were two William Kelds, one at each house. At No. 5 was a 32-year-old lighterman with a family of seven, a nurse and female servant, and at No. 7 a 55-year-old boat proprietor, presumably the former’s father.

9 Cold Harbour

Site of the Fishing Smack pub, which had been around since at least 1750. It was demolished in 1948, but a single glazed-tile column remains (see previous photo).

Site of the Fishing Smack


15 Cold Harbour

The current building was constructed in 1843–4 by Benjamin Granger Bluett, a joiner, mast- and blockmaker on the site of an older house. Survey of London:

In 1894 the Metropolitan Asylums Board (MAB), which occupied the adjoining wharf to the south as an ambulance station, bought the freehold of No. 15, and in 1895 it enclosed the former mastmaking shop, subdividing the area to make dressing-rooms, bathrooms, waiting-rooms and stores. It also built a range of waterclosets and an observation ward against the south wall of the house. Edwin T. Hall (1851–1923) designed and supervised these alterations. Ownership of No. 15 passed to the LCC in 1929, when it took over the MAB’s responsibilities. In 1969 the GLC transferred the property to the borough council.

1939. 15 Cold Harbour on the right. Managers Street on the left.

North Wharf

I described the Metropolitan Asylums Board’s Ambulance Station in another article (click here).

It was around the time that the asylum board took over the wharf (in the 1880s) that Managers Street was constructed, named after the managers of the Metropolitan Asylums Board.

19 Cold Harbour (Blackwall River Police Station)

Opened in 1894 on the former Brown’s Wharf and closed in the 1970s. Survey of London:

The Blackwall Station, one of only two permanent river-police stations ever built on the Thames (the other was at Wapping), was designed to accommodate a division of the Thames police formerly based on board The Royalist, a hulk moored off Folly Wall. The inconvenience of this floating headquarters had long been felt, and in 1875 it was suggested that the station should be relocated on shore in the former Railway Tavern at Brunswick Wharf. This proposal was rejected, and it was not until 1889 that other land sites were seriously considered, the choice of Brown’s Wharf being approved in 1890.

Concordia Wharf (L) and the River Police Station (R)


27 Cold Harbour (Gun Public House)

Doing business since the 1700s, the pub has been variously named the King and Queen (1722), Rose and Crown (1725), and Ramsgate Pink (1750). It was renamed the Gun (and sometimes referred to as the Gun Tavern) in 1771. For more photos, click here.

Nos 29–51 (odd) Cold Harbour

Built in 1890. No. 51 was demolished due to the widening and realignment of Preston’s Road.

That same widening of the road meant also the loss of Leslie’s Café 😦

West India Dock Tavern

The terraced housing in the previous section was built on the site of a grand tavern known as the West India Dock Tavern. Opened in 1830, with the owner, Samuel Lovegrove, expecting to profit from the proximity of the docks, it was not a success and remained open for not much more than a decade. For its full story, read my earlier blog article, The West India Dock Tavern.

1835 map showing “Lovegrove’s W. India Dock Tavern & Stairs”

Little is known or reported about the early history of the other side of the street. It was always predominantly industrial, but this 1870 map reveals that there was some housing in the northern section at the time. New Road was the new road between the West India Dock entrance lock and Preston(‘s) Road in the north (so-called due to it passing through the former Hall-Preston Estate):

By 1910 it was getting fuller:

Cold Harbour survived WWII remarkably unscathed, as this (sorry, poor quality) London County Council Bomb Map reveals, in spite of the V1 (flying bomb or Doodlebug) strike marked by the circle on the left. My theory is that the Luftwaffe – primarily targetting the docks – did not release their bombs until spotting the Thames, which generally saved those premises along the river in the east of the Island as the bombs passed overhead. A study of the wider LCC Bomb Damage Map for the Island does bear this out.

Uniquely, Cold Harbour retains a feel of the past, a piece of the Island (yes, it’s the Island 🙂 ) that shows its age, like these two Herberts in the Gun a couple of years ago.

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Nellie Frances Cressall

Poplar was once blessed with outstanding local government politicians – politicians who demonstrably improved the lot of the residents of what is now E14, and who were even prepared to go to prison in support of their beliefs (see Poplarism aka The Poplar Rates Rebellion). One of those politicians was Nellie Frances Cressall, after whom Cressall House in Tiller Road is named.

Cressall House in the 1950s

Growing up on the other side of the Island, I only (sometimes nervously) crossed the Glass Bridge to go swimming in Island Baths, so I never ventured far down Tiller Road and was not familiar with Cressall House. It was only recently that I learned that the block of flats was named after someone whose heart was very much in the right place as far as I’m concerned, someone who became Mayor of Poplar and spent her later years living in Macquarie Way on the Chapel House Estate.

A young Nellie

Frequently – and incorrectly – stated as being born in Stepney, Nellie Francis Wilson was actually born in Kilburn on 23rd November 1882 to carpenter George Wilson and his wife Julia (born Jennings). In 1904 she married George Joseph Cressall in St. Dunstan’s Church, Stepney, and by the end of the year the newly-weds were living at 15 Barnes Street, Limehouse (at the corner with Wakeley Street; a house which, amazingly enough, is still there).

15 Barnes Street

A couple of years later both Nellie and George became politically active and joined the Independent Labour Party. In 1912 she met Sylvia Pankhurst, an encounter that influenced her to join the suffragist cause:

I had been thinking for some time of the unequal rights of men and women. I could not agree that men should be the sole parent, that a mother could not even say whether her child should be vaccinated or not – or that women should receive half pay and many other things as well. I thought that here is something I can dedicate myself to help in some way to put things right.

She joined Sylvia Pankhurst, Keir Hardie, Julia Scurr, Millie Lansbury and George Lansbury, in establishing the East London Federation of Suffragettes (ELF) – an organisation that combined socialism with a demand for women’s suffrage. The group also began production of a weekly paper for working-class women called The Women’s Dreadnought.

Nellie in 1915.

It was around this time that Nellie could frequently be heard speaking at meetings at the East India Dock gates next to the entrance to Blackwall Tunnel. In November 1919 Nellie and George were elected to Poplar Council (the Labour Party had won 39 of the 42 council seats), and both were involved in the Poplar Rates Rebellion in 1921.

Cllr. Mrs Cressall Addressing Crowd. “At Rates Protest in Poplar 1921 This photograph shows a Labour member of Poplar Borough Council addressing a crowd of supporters during the Poplar Rates Rebellion.”

On Monday 5th September, Nellie was arrested – along with Susan Lawrence, Julia Scurr, Minnie Lansbury and Jennie Mackay.

Among those who had to make special arrangements were George and Nellie Cressall, both of whom had been committed to prison. The Cressalls had five sons between the ages of seven and seventeen, and Nellie, who was thirty-eight, was expecting her sixth. They arranged that the youngest should be cared for by their grandmother, while two of the boys joined the group of children taken to Kent.

Nellie Cressall … had a particularly gruelling experience. In view of her condition she was immediately put into a cell in the hospital wing. But she was then, apparently, forgotten about for twenty-four hours. When others were let out for exercise, she was ignored and remained locked up. She heard the persistent sound of screaming, and while she was there a woman in a nearby cell committed suicide.

– ‘Poplarism’ by Noreen Branson (Lawrence and Wishart, 1979)

Women councillors leaving for prison. Millie Lansbury (at window), Jeannie MacKay, Susan Lawrence and Nellie Cressall. (Source:

She later said:

Think of it, you mothers, young girls taken from a life of freedom and locked up in cells with doors as thick as a pawnbroker’s safe.

Imprisoning a heavily-pregnant councillor was a serious mistake on the behalf of the government; public support for Nellie grew and her incarceration became an embarrassment. Just over two weeks after her imprisonment, she was released on health grounds. Nellie, however, refused to go unless her fellow councillors were also released – she was also very suspicious of a document that the authorities asked her to sign, in case it in some way caused her colleagues further problems. In the end, it was LCC Labour group leader, Harry Gosling, who convinced her to leave, on 21st September, close to three weeks after she had been locked up. The Poplar Rates Rebellion was successful with the government and the London County Council backing down. The rest of the imprisoned councillors were released on 12 October.

Nellie became the first female Mayor of Poplar in 1943 (husband George was Mayor for a couple of years in the 30s).

At the 1951 Labour National Conference – in the year she became a widow – she made a passionate speech about the progress that had been made since the First World War:

Years ago after the First World War many, many people in my constituency sat in the dark because they had not got a penny to put in the gas. Today what do I find? People come to me creating about the heavy electricity bills they have to pay!… I have young people coming worrying me for houses…. We have got some houses where six families lived once upon a time…. Whereas in the old days people would get married, as I did, and be contented in two nice little rooms, today our young people want a home of their own.

Planet News: 1953 UNITED KINGDOM – OCTOBER 03: SCARBOROUGH: Grandmother, Nellie Cressall, of Poplar, the widow of Labour pioneer George Lansbury’s election agent, who roused the audience to prolonged applause and cheering when she spoke at the annual Labour Party Conference here. Mrs Cressall, who is 69, has 26 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. She attacked the Conservatives and the Housewives League on the cost-of-living cries. Aneurin Bevan – a master of fiery platform speaking – said her speech was the finest heard at the conference. Mrs Cressall ‘discovered’ the Prime Minister, when in 1907 he knocked at her door and asked to see her husband as he wanted to help the Labour movement.

A decade later and Nellie was living with sons Edgar and George at 15 Macquarie Way on the Island.

15 Macquarie Way

Nellie appeared briefly in the slightly-controversial 1962 documentary, “Postscript to Empire” (slightly-controversial among Islanders who, correctly in my view, found it patronising) providing a feisty counterpart to the conservative (small ‘c’) Mr. Hart, grocer of 114 Manchester Rd.

“I’ll let you finish, but I’m not happy”.

“What a lot of bowlocks”.

Nellie died in 1973.

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Island Pubs and Beer Houses

Update, September 2017: A lot more photos and updated information (including the odd newspaper article) have emerged since this article was originally posted in 2014. The article has been updated to include these. I’ve also tried to arrange the photos in chronological order, and give credit to their sources.

This is a photographic record (plus the odd drawing or painting) of all the original pubs on the Island. By original, I mean that they were around before 1980, before the LDDC and Canary Wharf. By 1980, many had already disappeared, and I am sorry to say that most of the rest have disappeared since then.

The title of the article refers to pubs and beer houses, and I should explain what a beer house is. In Victorian times, it was permitted to sell beer without getting a license. Unfortunately, a side effect of this was that beer houses were never inspected, and became renowned as dens of vice and crime. The law was quickly changed to make sure that all premises were licensed, but most Island pubs were beer houses at one time. The exceptions were the grander establishments such as the Queen, Cubitt Arms or Lord Nelson. From the start, these were large, licensed premises aimed at the well-to-do (who were not actually to be found in any appreciable numbers on the Island); they were all to be found around Cubitt Town.

The photos come from numerous sources – too numerous for me to know – but I must express my thanks for the very many photos taken by Tony Alltoft, Peter Wright and Steve White, as well as those from the Island History Trust collection. The map extracts accompanying each pub entry are mostly from the 1890s Ordnance Survey series.

I thought this would be an easy and lazy post: mostly photos, not that much text, more of a photo blog really. It turned out to take a lot more time and effort than I expected, but then I do think the results have made it worth it. Potentially, this post has turned into the definitive inventory of the pubs on the Island.

Pubs Featured in this Article

Showing year of opening and closure (occasionally estimated)

Anchor & Hope (1829-2005), Courage
Blacksmiths Arms (1895-2001), Watney/Trumans
Builders Arms (1864-1940), Whitbread
City Arms (1811-2012), Mann, Crossman & Paulin
Cubitt Arms (1864-2011), Truman
Dock House (1850-1937)
Dorset Arms (1860-1997), Mann, Crossman & Paulin
Ferry House (1700-present), Courage
Fishing Smack (1700s-1948)
Folly House Tavern (1753-1875)
George (1865-present), Watney
Glendower, 296-298 West Ferry Rd (dates unknown, no images)
Glengall Arms (1830-1932)
Great Eastern I (1860-1940), Charrington
Gun (1722-present), Taylor Walker
Gut House (1600s-1810)
Highland Mary, 252-254 West Ferry Rd (dates unknown, no images)
Ironmongers Arms (1860-1920)
Islanders (1880-1940)
King’s Arms, on river wall at present-day New Atlas Wharf (dates unknown)
Kingsbridge Arms (1839-2004), Whitbread
London Tavern (1860-1960), Charrington
Lord Nelson (1855-present), Charrington
Magnet & Dewdrop (1850-1995), Watney Combe Reid
Manchester Arms (1858-1941), Taylor Walker
Mechanics Arms (1818-1920)
Millwall Docks Tavern (1869-1940), Taylor Walker
Millwall Tap (aka Vulcan Arms), 112 West Ferry Rd (dates unknown, no images)
North Pole (1860-2014), Watney/Truman
Pier Tavern (1863-2013), Whitbread
Pride of the Isle (1846-1960), Mann, Crossman & Paulin
Prince Alfred (1870-1940), Truman
Prince of Wales (1859-1940), Mann, Crossman & Paulin
Princess of Wales (1862-1970), Charrington
Queen (1855-2004), Whitbread
Robert Burns (1853-1991), Truman
Ship (1835-present), Watney
Tooke Arms (1853-present), Watney
Torrington Arms (1856-1910), Ind Coope
Union Arms (1830-1960)
Vulcan (1882-1992), Taylor Walker
Watermans Arms I (1813-1920)
Watermans Arms II (1853-present), Taylor Walker
Waterman’s Lodge, Totnes Cottages (dates unknown, no images)
Windmill (1700-1884)
West India Dock Tavern, Cold Harbour (1830-1840)


Pub Map

Map of Island Pubs 15524613822

Click for large version

1905 map of licensed premises

Anchor & Hope

41 West Ferry Rd. Opened as a beer house in 1829, and closed in 2005. The building was recently renovated and turned into flats (which involved the sad death of one of the construction workers), but the exterior still retains some semblance of its former self.



c1962. Photo: Island History Trust Collection

1966. Photo: Island History Trust / Rev BK Andrews

c1970. Photo: Con Maloney



1989 (Either the Marathon or mass legging it after a milk float)

c1990. Photo: Steve White

1995. Photo: Peter Wright

1997: Photo: Peter Wright

1997. Photo: Peter Wright



2008. Photo: Peter Wright

2008. Photo: Peter Wright

2008. Photo: Peter Wright



2014. Photo: Peter Wright

2014. Photo: Peter Wright


Blacksmith’s Arms

25 West Ferry Rd. Opened as a beer house around 1895, and converted to a restaurant in 2001 (named ‘Rogue Trader’, but later renamed ‘Aniseed’).


1900 Pub Tokens


1960s. Julie Hawkins

1960s. Julie Hawkins

c1960. Photo: Island History Trust



1980s. Blacksmith’s Arms Football Team

c1990. Photo: Steve White

1997. Photo: Peter Wright

1990s. Photo: Peter Wright

1990s. Photo courtesy of the Bennett family. The leftmost man holding a half-full pint glass is Charles Mick Bennett.

1997. Photo: Peter Wright

2010. Photo: Mick Lemmerman

2014. Photo: Hazel Simpson

2014. Photo: Hazel Simpson

Builder’s Arms

99 Stebondale St. Opened in 1864, and described as destroyed in WWII (although the wartime photo in this album does show that at least the shell of the building survived the 1940 blitz raids that flattened the rest of Stebondale St).


The pub was built by Jonathan Billson, who also built 26 other houses on Stebondale St. The location was the corner of Stebondale St and a short extension of Billson St which was originally planned to extend further into what became Millwall Park, to meet an extended Douglas Street (later Douglas Place). The collapse of the 1870s house building market on the Island put paid to these plans. The Whitbread brewery extensively rebuilt and enlarged the premises in 1891. The LCC purchased the site of the Builder’s Arms in 1965 so it could be incorporated into Millwall Park.

1868. Morning Post


c1920. Builder’s Arms outing. Photo: Island History Trust / Mrs, Petts

1924. Ledger

1920s? Photo: Island History Trust

1936. Photo: Island History Trust


Late 1940s. Photo: George Warren


1940s. Photo: Mark Shaw

City Arms (aka City Pride)

1 West Ferry Rd. The original City Arms opened in approximately 1811 by the owner of the former Gut House. The current building opened in 1936, closed at the start of 2012, and was demolished in October of the same year. At the time of writing (March 2013), there are plans to build a high-rise residential building on the site.

The City Arms was renamed to City Pride in the 1980’s.


Photo: Island History Trust



1967. The Phil Starr (Arthur Fuller) & Terri Dennis (Barry Chat) drag act

Photo: Bill Regan



c1986. Screenshot from ‘Prospects’ TV series

c1986. Screenshot from ‘Prospects’ TV series

c1988. Photo: Ken Lynn

c1989. Photo: Ken Lynn


2010. Photo: Mick Lemmerman

Photo: Peter Wright

Photo: Peter Wright


Photo: Con Maloney

Photo: Con Maloney

Cubitt Arms

262 Manchester Rd. Opened in 1864 and closed in 2011. The pub was built by Henry Smallman, also responsible for building The Queen. The building exterior is far plainer than originally, with the more ornate features removed in the 1960’s.


Photo: Island History Trust


Photo: Cris Defrebel Cross

Photo: Bill Regan


Photo: Steve White

Photo: Steve White

Dock House

26 Cuba St (corner of Alpha Rd). Opened as a beer house c1850, and demolished in 1937 when this road junction was annexed by Millwall Docks.


Dock House, corner of Alpha Rd and Cuba St 15062738021

Dorset Arms

377-379 Manchester Rd. Four houses were built by James & Richard Bowley between 1860 and 1864 in a row known as “Dorset Terrace”. In 1860, James Bowley obtained a license to sell ale and beer at no. 377. Twenty years later the beer house was extended to include no. 379. By this time it was already known as the Dorset Arms.


In 1913, the two houses were demolished, replaced by the public house that was present until its closure in 1997 and subsequent demolition.

Photo: Island History Trust

Pre-1914 Dorset Arms Beano 14879173368

Dorset Arms Beano [Pre-1914]. Photo: Island History Trust / Mrs. P. Machell

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Photo: Cris Defrebel Cross

Photo: Cris Defrebel Cross

Photo courtesy of Donald Francis Read Utton

Dorset Arms 17425207030

Photo: Bill Regan


1980s-dorset-arms 14879107830


Photo: Pat Jarvis

Photo: Bill Regan

Dorset Arms 17136776132

Photo: Connie Batten

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Ferry House

26 Ferry St. In 1700, the ferry to Greenwich departed from an area which was not much more than farmland. There was a starch factory near the ferry landing, and when this closed around 1740, the premises were rebuiilt/renamed to become the Ferry House – probably serving refreshments to ferry passengers. The present Ferry House was built in 1822, making it certainly the oldest (still existing) pub on the Island, and one of the oldest buildings.



1927. Photo: Island History Trust

1965. Daily Mirror

Photo: Anne O’Flaherty


1970s. Photo: Gary O’Keefe

1980s. Photo: Tarbard Family

Photo: Bill Regan

Photo: Tarbard Family


c1986. ‘Prospects TV Series’.

c1986. ‘Prospects’ TV Series

c1990. Photo: Steve White

c2010. Photo: Tommo Shadwell

Reg Tarbard. Photo: Emma Tarbard

Fishing Smack

9 Coldharbour. A pub was present at this location in the 1750s, then known as the Fishermans Arms. It was rebuilt in 1893, and then demolished in 1948.


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fishing-smack 14879030609

Fishing Smack 16041619625

Cold Harbour 16889389229

Folly House Tavern

In August 1753 Thomas Davers, esquire, of the Middle Temple, acquired the copyhold of 1½ acres of the Osier Hope, a parcel of riverside land south of Blackwall, where he built, ‘at vast expense, a little fort . . . known by the name of Daver’s folly’. In financial difficulty, Davers surrendered his property in August 1754.

The first occupant to sell liquor was Henry Annis, who became copyholder in 1755 and obtained a licence in 1758. The name Folly House first occurs in 1763. Nothing is known of the original structure, which was apparently altered by Annis by 1757. Additional buildings for the accommodation of ‘Friends and Customers’ were erected in the mid-1760s by William Mole, who also made use of the surrounding foreland as a garden.  Perhaps because of its convenient riverside location between Greenwich and Blackwall, the Folly House was a popular venue for whitebait suppers throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

When the property was auctioned by Mole’s widow around 1788 it contained a variety of rooms ‘for the accommodation of genteel company’, an extensive pleasure- and kitchen-garden, a paved causeway, and a landing-place leading to a terrace of 186ft in front of the river.

In 1800 possession of the Folly House and surrounding land passed to Benjamin Granger, the Blackwall coal merchant, who appears to have added to the existing group of buildings almost immediately. A plan of 1817 shows the public house, its outbuildings and gardens (which at the time included a cockpit), with smaller buildings flanking to the north and south. Pictorial representations of the Folly House of this period are somewhat inconsistent and the tavern may have been considerably altered or even rebuilt on a number of occasions. However, the evidence indicates that it was a two-storey main building of three bays facing the river, with a shallow gable roof surmounted by a balustraded balcony. The building was extended to the south, further away from the riverside, where the terrace featured a row of triangular shelters or bowers for patrons.

Further alterations and additions to the property in the 1830s and 1850s included the building of a new causeway, 60ft long. The tavern enjoyed a resurgence in business with the growth of shipbuilding yards on the riverfront in the 1850s and 1860s, until it was closed in 1875. The building was later incorporated into the premises of Yarrow’s.

– British History Online


Folly House, Blackwall folly-house-tavern 15065370762

scan0051-copy-2- 14879174007

The George

114 Glengall Grove. Opened in 1865, rebuilt in 1932, and still doing business. The original building was erected in 1864–5 by George Read, who was also responsible for 57 houses in Glengall Grove. Its prominent position close to the docks and Millwall Docks station was exploited by its landlords: rooms were available for businessmen’s meetings and dining rooms and a large billiards room for their relaxation.



In 1889–90 William Clark, the licensee, was instrumental in relocating Millwall Rovers football club, which then became Millwall Athletic, at a new ground nearby (approximately where ASDA is now located), and the George became the club’s headquarters. In 1895 Clark’s successor, Lewis Innocent, mortgaged the premises to Watney Combe Reid, which acquired the freehold in 1927. In 1932 the building was demolished and replaced by the present structure.

Photo: Island History Trust

1927. Photo: Island History Trust

1930s. Photo: Island History Trust

Late 1920s. Photo: Island History Trust Collection / A. Grover

1931/2 rebuild. Photo courtesy of Cathy Holmes

1930s rebuild. Photo courtesy of Cathy Holmes


Island History Trust: “The George Pub. Corner of Glengall Road and East Ferry Road, being transformed from a hotel into a pub. Taken on May 20th 1932. The builder was H. C. Horsvil of Forest Gate. Evidently according to the notice, temporary bars are in operation during the building works. Donated by Mrs P. Holmes”

Post-1931/2 rebuild. Photo courtesy of Cathy Holmes

Post-1931/2 rebuild. Photo courtesy of Cathy Holmes

Post-1931/2 rebuild. Photo courtesy of Cathy Holmes

1939. Photo: Island History Trust

Late 1940s. Waiting for the call-on.

c1949. Photo:

1960s. Photo: George Warren

Jayne Mansfield pays a visit.


c1970. Photo: Charlie Surface


c1986. ‘Prospects’ TV Series

c1986. ‘Prospects’ TV Series

Photo: Jan Hill

1988. Photo: Island History Trust

Photo: Pat Jarvis

1987. Photo: Island History Trust

2014. Photo: Mick Lemmerman


296-298 West Ferry Rd (dates unknown). Mentioned in trade directories around the time of the construction of the Great Eastern – one of many pubs or beer houses profiting from the ship’s construction.

Glengall Arms

367 West Ferry Rd. Opened in the late 1830s, built by Henry Bradshaw, a local grazier. Over the next few years Bradshaw added some very small cottages at the back of the public house, built terraced houses along the main road and the new Cahir Street, and more cottages along Marsh Street.


The Glengall Arms was bought in 1925 by the London Diocesan Fund for use as a priest’s lodging and clubhouse in connection with St Cuthbert’s Church. It was acquired by the LCC in 1932 and demolished, together with nearby houses, for public housing developments (Arethusa House and other flats on Cahir St).

Glengall Arms 1929 15738945855

Great Eastern

395 West Ferry Rd from c1860 to c1940.


Great Eastern, 1929 15553767167

Photo: Island History Trust

Seven Year’s Hard, by Richard William, 1904

The Gun

27 Cold Harbour. First named the King & Queen (in 1722), the pub was also known as the Ramsgate Pink, and then Rose & Crown, before getting its current name in 1771. The building we see today is 19th century.



the-gun-1967 14879023027




1970s (probably)

c1980. Photo: Bill Regan

1970s. Photo: Gary O’Keefe

1980. Photo: Bill Regan


My beautiful picture

c1990. Photo: Steve White

The Gun, Isle of Dogs

gun 14878870449

Gut House

West Ferry Rd (approx. at site of City Arms). In 1660, the Thames breached the river embankment (thanks to gravel quarrying in the vicinity), and after repair there remained a large inland pond known as the Poplar Gut. The Gut House was built on the site of the breach, and did business until approximately 1810 when the owner had to make way for the new City Canal. He acquired land close by and built the first City Arms there.

camerazoom-20131023152650497 14878864659

Highland Mary

252-254 West Ferry Rd (dates unknown). Mentioned in trade directories around the time of the construction of the Great Eastern – one of many pubs or beer houses profiting from the ship’s construction.

Ironmonger’s Arms

210 West Ferry Rd. The Barnfield Estate, not much more than a marsh on the Isle of Dogs, was purchased by the Ironmongers’ Company in 1730. In the 1850s the owners commenced with house building on the estate, including three public houses within a very short distance of each other on the West Ferry Rd: Magnet & Dewdrop, Ironmongers’ Arms and The Vulcan. (Actually, technically, only the Ironmongers Arms was a public house, the other two were beer houses.) The Ironmonger’s Arms survived until at least 1921.


scan0034 14878980489

Photo: Island History Trust

1920s. Photo: Island History Trust

Ironmonger's Arms 15062657981

Names; (charabanc) G Launtain, T Clayden, Mr Garrett, D French, S Byron; seated: C Bishop, J Garrett, Seymour, Mr French, R Sweeney. In front standing; Cannon, B Phillips, H Anderson, Don _, Verry, Sweeney, V Willis, Brinkley, A Saggers,. Seated; Bob Watson, Jim Diffey, Palmer, Stuart, Herbert, Hankins, Fred. Photo: Island History Trust

Ironmonger’s Arms (L) & Magnet & Dewdrop (R), c1937. Photo: Maloney Family


3-5 Tooke St, opened c1880. The Islanders was more usually named by locals as Sexton’s, after the landlord Maurice John Sexton. It retained the nickname long after he had gone. The pub was best known as the first headquarters of Millwall Football Club in its early days around 1885. The Islanders was destroyed in an air-raid during the blitz, in the early hours of 7 September 1940.


The Islander Public House in Tooke Street Tooke Street looking towards Alpha Grove on the Bank Holiday of 6 May 1935, this was a street party heldto celebrate King George V’s Jubilee. The Islander Public House, built around 1858, became the first HQ of Millwall Football Club.The owners of the JT Morton jam and marmalade factory in West Ferry Road formed them as Millwall Rovers in 1885. The owners of the factory had recruited extensively for workers in Scotland. Hence most of the team’s early members came from north of the border and thus the club immediately adopted the Scottish flag’s rampant lion as its motif. At a meeting held in the Islanders pub it was decided to call the new team Millwall Rovers. The Islander was used as their changing roomsin their first season. At this time it was more generally known as “Sextons” after the landlord Maurice John Sexton, this nickname continued well after he had gone. On Sept 7th 1940, during the world war two blitz, the pub and many of the surrounding houses in Tooke Street were destroyed by a high explosive bomb. Tooke Street was cleared of housing in the 1960’s and the street no longer exists. The picture was given to us by Arthur Ayres, along with two other pictures of the party taken from his home in Tooke Street opposite the Islander pub. These are the only known pictures in existence of this much-loved old pub and we thank Arthur for bringing them to light after so many years.

– Peter Wright

Tooke St(58g2) 14879120147

1936 (probably). Photo courtesy of Arthur Ayres

1936 (probably). Photo courtesy of Arthur Ayres

Photo: Island History Trust

Photo: Island History Trust

King’s Arms

Only recorded on maps, with the accompanying King’s Arms Stairs, nothing is known about this pub (to me at least). First mentioned in this 1835 newspaper clipping, and accessible only via the Mill Wall, then still a public path on top the embankment that ‘circled’ the Island.


By the 1860s it seemed even more inaccessible.

And by 1875 there was no sign of the pub, but – intriguingly – there is note of a brewery. I’ve seen a photo of a beerhouse on Westferry Road apparently belonging to this brewery, but know precious little about it. A few years later there was no longer mention of pub or brewery.

Kingsbridge Arms

154 & 156 West Ferry Rd. First mentioned in 1839, it was demolished in 2004.


Photo: Island History Trust

Photo: Island History Trust

c1950. Photo:


2000. Photo: Peter Wright

2000. Photo: Peter Wright

2000. Photo: Peter Wright

Photo: Duggan Family

Landlord & Landlady Bill & Kit Duggan, daughter Kathy and union leader Jack Dash. Photo: Kathy Duggan


Billy Duggan, landlord’s grandson on the day the pub was closed down. Photo: Duggan Family

London Tavern

393 Manchester Rd, built on the corner of Glengall Rd and Manchester Rd in 1860 by Charles Davis, who was responsible also for building the Pier Tavern.


For a brief period during the 1880s and 1890s the London Tavern was a ‘cooperative public house’ managed by a society. Local police inspector Carter described to to Charles Booth in an 1897 ‘perambulation’ around the Island as: “neat and well-kept appearance from the outside… by a cooperative society, ‘the only known of in London’ said Carter, ‘and respectably kept’.”

The pub survived WWII and was closed in 1954. After that it survived into the 60s as a one-storey shell.

1927. Photo: Bill Curran


Glengall Rd School, 1920s, London Tavern in background. Photo: Island History Trust


1927 Glengall Rd School, London Tavern in background. Photo: Island History Trust.

london-tavern-1931 15071624792


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Lord Nelson

1 Manchester Rd. The Lord Nelson was built in 1855 and is one the few remaining original Island pubs that is still doing business. Originally there was a statue of Lord Nelson on the roof corner, but this and other ornate features have been removed.


In 1884 the Lord Nelson also served as the business premises of the “Millwall & Cubitt Town Omnibus Co.”

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).

1094089_679585262071117_1071461005_o 15042815086

nelson_1400503988 15062794401 nelson-12 15065825085

Photo: Island History Trust Collection / Mrs. E. Long

Freehold Records

Mrs. Stanley, Lord Nelson, 1960s, Photo: Island History Trust Collection / E. Long

Mr and Mrs Bonney, Lord Nelson, c1960, Photo: Island History Trust Collection / Mrs. E. Long

Lord Nelson 15040703378

Photo courtesy of George Warren

Photo: Pat Jarvis


Photo courtesy of Kathy Pike

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c1990. Photo: Steve White

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Camera 360

Magnet & Dewdrop

194 West Ferry Rd. This pub was re-named the Telegraph in 1985. It closed in 1995 and was demolished in 2001.


1924. Photo: Island History Trust

Photo: Island History Trust


1924. Photo: Island History Trust

1995. Photo: Peter Wright

Photo: Mick Lemmerman

Manchester Arms

308 Manchester Road (corner of Samuda St). This pub was built in 1858 and was badly damaged in an air raid in around 1941 – and subsequently demolished.


Pre-WW1. Manchester Arms


Photo: Island History Trust


Manchester Arms 1920s 15002422659

The bar of the Manchester Arms in the 1920’s. The two people behind the bar are Jack Ayres and Bellie Hart. Photo: Island History Trust