East End Village Walk
Most of the group met at Woodside Park Station and we started our walk from Mile End where we met up with the rest of the party and our Blue Badge Guide Rachel Kolsky. Immediately we were informed that if we lived in Mile End we were 'on the way up' and in fact we were not even in the East End.
We walked along the Mile End Road and into the park which was an oasis of green created in the 1940's away from the busy area. We stood on what was the Green Bridge, unfortunately surrounded by barriers as it was being refurbished and now yellow in colour. The park houses the Ragged School Museum, these buildings were previously used by Dr Barnardo to house the largest ragged school in London, now a local history museum.
Our next destination was Queen Mary's College and as we turned a corner we found we were overlooking an old graveyard, the Novo Sephardi Cemetery, a particular feature of Sephardi (Spanish and Portuguese) cemeteries are the tombstones are laid flat, it was opened in 1733 with many famous people buried here.
We then came across a plaque in memory of the famous boxer, Daniel Mendoza, an 18th century boxer who developed a whole new way of fighting by ducking, diving and side-stepping his opponent.Close by was a statue of Clement Attlee the first post war Prime Minister.
We were then shown the outside of Albert Stern House, a former Sephardi old people's home and hospital . and then walked on to the Phyllis Gerson House. Phyllis Gerson MBE devoted much of her life to Stepney Jewish B'nai Brith Girls Club and Settlement, of which she was warden for 45 years until her retirement. Just along from Phyllis Gerson House is the Alice Model Nursery, which carries the name of an East End social reformer. Miss Model inspired the development of this nursery, named in honour of her 80th birthday.
We then walked on to the attractive Stepney Green with Stepney Green Court - erected by the Rothschild's Four Per Cent Industrial Dwellings Company to provide decent housing for the poor, many of whom were Jewish. About a third of the area had been destroyed in the Blitz but Stepney Green survived. Close by is the Stepney Jewish School which some of our party remembered their parents attending.
Also around here were buildings with important architectural features including some magnificent period houses from the Georgian and Victorian era, which are regularly used as film locations. The siege of Sidney Street took place in Stepney in 1911.
We then walked on to Whitechapel Tube Station passing the famous Blind Beggar Pub where our walk ended.
We all enjoyed a very interesting couple of hours and look forward to our next walk in January taking in some of the Shuls.