The Wade Estate and Jeremiah Street, Poplar

From: Survey of London: Volumes 43 and 44, Poplar, Blackwall and Isle of Dogs. Originally published by London County Council, London (1994):

The Wade Estate

Development of that part of the Wade estate north of East India Dock Road began following the division of the land among Mary Wade‘s five daughters in 1823, but continued until the 1860s. The estate formed a block of land with a frontage on East India Dock Road between the Black Ditch and Chrisp Street, and, including that part of it which lay in Bromley, covered 43½ acres. In 1823 it was divided into 20 parcels, each daughter being allotted four, giving them more or less equal shares. The allocation was made in such a way that each daughter had a frontage on East India Dock Road, but their other parcels were scattered.

The early streets were named after the Wade daughters and their husbands: Sarah and William Kerbey, Sophia and James Duff, Susannah and James Grundy, Elizabeth Chrisp Willis, widow of William Willis, and Catherine Wade, who remained unmarried. Grundy Street was set out as the principal thoroughfare parallel to the East India Dock Road, and Kerbey and Chrisp Streets as the chief streets running from south to north.

During the 1820s the initial phase of development was confined mainly to the area between Grundy Street and the East India Dock Road, but even there gaps were left, with little building along Sarah (Sturry) and Kerbey Streets before the late 1830s. Nevertheless, by 1828 the eastern part of the area could be described as ‘a very considerable neighbourhood … [with] many respectable persons’. Building in that part of the district extended north of Grundy Street – along Tetley, Willis, Catherine and Greenfield Streets (mostly outside the parish) – by the 1840s. There was little development in the remainder of the area north of Grundy Street until further streets were set out in the 1840s and 1850s. That locality was described as ‘fast increasing’ in 1851, and building there continued during the mid-century boom, until the late 1860s.

The setting out of the Wade estate was given some coherence by its surveyor, John Morris, although the way in which the parcels were allocated in 1823, and the fact that building took place over more than 40 years, resulted, almost inevitably, in an uncoordinated and piecemeal development. Although the area was chiefly covered with rows of two-storey brick terraces without forecourts, there were differences in the way that the daughters’ parcels were set out. For example, the groups of small cottages in small courts on Sarah Kerbey’s and Susannah Grundy’s land on the north side of Grundy Street had no parallel elsewhere on the estate, and the pairs of semidetached houses erected in the mid-1850s in New (later Chilcot) Street, on part of Catherine Wade’s allocation, were also unique in the area. Such uniformity of appearance as there was came in short terraces in the smaller streets, such as the houses on both sides of Ellerthorp Street, which was built by W. B. Tomlin on one of Sarah Duff’s parcels between 1842 and 1847.

The author Arthur Morrison (1863–1945) was born at No. 14 John Street in 1863, but it is not possible to determine whether that was the John Street which was an extension of Grundy Street and was amalgamated with it in 1865, or the one which in 1875 was renamed Rigden Street. His descriptions in ‘A Street’, originally published in Macmillan’s Magazine in 1891, have been taken to refer to the area of the former Wade estate. The street is not pretty to look at. A dingy little brick house twenty feet high, with three square holes to carry the windows, and an oblong hole to carry the door, is not a pleasing object: and each side of this street is formed by two or three score of such houses in a row, with one front wall in common … Two families in a house is the general rule, for there are six rooms behind each set of holes.

By the 1910s the area was generally regarded as a ‘poor neighbourhood’. The commercial premises were chiefly in Grundy Street, Chrisp Street – which were primarily shopping streets – and Kerbey Street. The market in Chrisp Street was a considerable success in the late nineteenth century, attracting costermongers from their former pitches in the High Street. There was a scattering of public houses on the estate, including the rather distinguished African Tavern in Grundy Street, built c1868 to the designs of the local architect Thomas Wayland Fletcher (1833–1901). Some of the shops provided further variety, such as the ‘Gothick’ Nos 129 and 131 Grundy Street, which stood in a row of houses erected in the late 1820s and adjoined the rather more conventional Duke of Clarence public house of 1829…

Nos 128–150 (demolished) East India Dock Road, South side:

This frontage represented that part of the Wade estate, south of the East India Dock Road, that extended from the old drainage sewer called the Black Ditch to the ‘manor house’ of Poplar. After Mary Wade’s death about 1821 this part was, like the rest of the estate, partitioned among her daughters in 1823, and immediately put in train for development in the favourable speculative climate of the time. Three of the daughters divided this comparatively short frontage, and disposed of their plots to different developers, but conformed to an overall layout plan — possibly attributable to James Walker as the late Mrs Wade’s surveyor.

The site of Nos 128–134 (and of Nos 22–26 Wade Street) was sold in August 1824 by one of the daughters, Sophia, and her husband James Duff to the builder Thomas Corpe of Limehouse. The price was £407, for about one-sixth of an acre. A year later, with four of the houses built and four building, Corpe mortgaged them to the ubiquitous John Stock. Greenwood’s map of 1824–6 seems to show the East India Dock Road houses, but it was 1835 before they were occupied, under the name of Clarence Place.

The site of Nos 136–142 was sold in April 1825 (together with the land that extended back to the line of Shirbutt Street) by Catherine Wade to Thomas Gray of Marylebone Street, Golden Square, bookseller, who later occupied Monastery House. The houses, with Nos 144–150, were named Grove Terrace, which (at Nos 146– 148) bore that name-tablet dated 1827. (fn. 42) Nos 136–142 – houses of only two storeys — were first occupied in 1829 (No. 138) and 1835. Gray’s widow still owned them in 1880.

In September 1824 the site of the rest of Grove Terrace at Nos 144–150 and of the land back to Shirbutt Street was sold by the Wade daughter Susannah and her husband James Grundy, himself a builder, to a trustee for a Shadwell pilot, George Smith. These threestoreyed houses seem to have been the first houses to be occupied here, in 1828. Smith’s family, too, retained the ownership, in 1885.

No. 150, the Manor Arms, became a beerhouse in 1868. The present building probably dates from 1925. The architect for Mann, Crossman & Paulin may have been William Stewart, who had extended the premises in 1911 and did so again in 1936–7…

Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest, Jeremiah Street

Fronting East India Dock Road is the extension of the Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest made in 1951–3, and occupying the site of six houses called Wade’s Terrace built in 1829 on the property of Sophia Duff (née Wade) and her husband James Duff. The architect of that terrace is not known. It was a late-Georgian brick row, set, like Trinity Terrace, behind a street wall topped with railings, and rose through three storeys to finish with a stone or stucco entablature, originally crowned by a balustrade. There were round-headed openings to the doors and to the ground- and first-floor windows, the last being dressed with individual balconies at the four outer houses of the terrace and a continuous balcony at the two inner, projecting forward slightly under a pediment set against the crowning balustrade. The houses were a little lower rated than those of Trinity Terrace but in 1841 were respectably inhabited. By the later 1870s lodging-houses were taking over and gradually from the 1880s shopfronts were inserted.

The original building of the Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest faces Jeremiah Street and was erected in 1901–2 for the Wesleyan Seamen’s Mission, which had had premises there since about 1888. These were well placed opposite the side door of the Board of Trade building, whence seamen emerged with their wages. An incentive to rebuild perhaps came from the recent building of the Anglican Missions to Seamen’s Institute on the other side of East India Dock Road. Architects for the Wesleyans were Gordon & Gunton — Josiah Gunton being one of the trustees for the new ‘house’ and by 1910 treasurer of the Wesleyan Mission chapel on the opposite side of East India Dock Road: the firm built widely for the Methodists. The Seamen’s Mission, whose headquarters the building became, was associated with the Artizans Dwellings Society and the building in Jeremiah Street was in two conjoined parts, of different designs. The southern part was originally of three storeys (soon increased to four), with a four-storey entrance tower at its southern end, the northern (now much altered in its front to Jeremiah Street) of four storeys. The top floor of that block contained cubicles for seamen and there were dwellings for seamen’s families in the northern part. The cost was £14,000. In 1932 the same architects, now Gunton & Gunton, built an extension, costing some £15,000, on the west side, facing Augusta Street (now Arabella Close)…”

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