The Old Fire Station, Hampton

The foundation stone of the building shown above was laid by Robert Graham.

From Wikipedia:

Robert George Graham (born Hinxton, Cambridgeshire, 1 January 1845, died Hampton, Middlesex, 6 April 1922) was a British sportsman and businessman.

Graham was born on New Year’s Day 1845, the son of the Rev. John Graham of Hinxton Vicarage, Cambridgeshire. He attended Cheltenham College between January 1861 and June 1862.

Graham played for Barnes Football Club between 1865 and 1869 as a forward, captaining the club in a match against Crystal Palace in January of that year.[2][3] He also played for the “Surrey and Kent” team in the first inter-county football match under association rules, in November 1867. Graham captained the Surrey team in separate matches against Kent and Middlesex in 1868. In 1869, he also played for Crusaders FC.

Through Barnes FC and the London Rowing Club, Graham came into contact with Robert Willis, who would serve as second secretary of the Football Association from 1866 to 1867. From 1867 to 1870, Graham himself served as both secretary and treasurer of the Football Association.

The future for the FA did not look promising at this time: only ten clubs were members, resulting in low attendance at the 1867 annual meeting. During the next year, Graham attempted to increase membership by writing to every known club in the country. This increased membership to thirty by 1868, but did not prevent the association from running out of money, with the officers having to cover expenses out of their own pockets.

After his resignation as secretary in 1870, Graham continued to serve on the FA’s committee from 1870 to 1871. He also served as secretary of Barnes FC in 1868. An obituary in the Athletic News described Graham as “one of those gentlemen who tackled the chaos in which football existed and from which the Football Association came into being”.

Graham was also a keen rower, competing for the London Rowing Club at the Henley Royal Regatta of 1865. He won the English pole jump championship in 1869. In 1895, he invented a captive golf-ball game, known as “Linka”.

Graham worked as a stockbroker and company director. He was “allowed the office of broker” by the Court of Aldermen of the City of London in March 1869. For the last 36 years of his life, he also served as volunteer captain of the fire brigade of Hampton upon Thames, where he lived. Graham authored a comedy titled Our Play. In 1893, it was performed at the Vaudeville Theatre in London’s West End to poor reviews.

Graham married Alice Hackblock on 15 September 1869. The couple had two daughters, the younger of whom was prolific novelist and anti-Mormon campaigner Winifred Graham. After Robert’s death, Winifred produced two books supposedly communicated by her father via automatic writing. Graham’s elder sister, Helen, married Robert Willis in 1867.

Graham died on 6 April 1922. He was survived by his widow Alice and his two daughters.

See: Graham, R. G. (1899). “The Early History of the Football Association”. The Badminton Magazine of Sports and Pastimes. London: Longmans, Green, & Co.”

“You may doubt the truth of the matter, but truth is as slippery as an eel…

…In truth, all truths are passing stages in the emergence of myth.” John Earl, Director of the Theatres Trust, 1986-1995.

Lisa Abend wrote in The New York Times of May 22, 2020:

“MALMO, Sweden — In the 1980s, American scientists devised an experiment that they were convinced would solve the mystery of how eels reproduce.

They took 100 females, injected them with hormones to induce sexual maturity, and prepared to bring them to the Sargasso Sea, that evocative patch of the Atlantic Ocean that begins some 300 miles off the eastern coast of the U.S. and is known to be where European and American eels go to spawn. There, the scientists planned to set the females in cages attached to buoys intended to function as lures that would, essentially, bring all the boys to the yard.

Yet 95 of the eels died before they reached the sea. The remaining five, put in cages and attached to buoys as planned, disappeared along with the contraptions that housed them.

Odd tales like that compelled Patrik Svensson to write “The Book of Eels.” A combination of natural history, memoir and metaphysical musing, the book, which comes out in the U.S. on Tuesday, is a debut for the 47-year-old journalist. It is already a best seller in his native Sweden, where it won the August Prize, the country’s most prestigious literary award.

He takes scientific mysteries and makes them part of a lived experience; a story between father and son that people can relate to,” Emi-Simone Zawall, a book critic for the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet and a former juror for the August Prize, said in a phone interview. “But I think the reason for [the book’s] success is that he combines them with a level of literary craftsmanship that is quite rare.”

No one is more surprised by that success than its author. “It’s a very strange and nerdy book,” Svensson said in an interview this month in Malmo. A culture reporter who reviews books and films, he grew up in a rural area north of the city where his decision to go to university — to say nothing of his interest in the arts — was difficult for his father, who worked as a road paver, to understand.

But father and son connected over eels, and it was from his dad’s stories that the younger Svensson became fascinated by the animal. The eel’s biology has captivated and baffled some of the West’s greatest minds, from Aristotle to Freud (who spent a postgraduate research gig in a futile quest to locate the fish’s testes, a failure that, as Svensson suggests, may have given the future father of psychoanalysis some ideas about genital absence). The Danish marine biologist Johanne Schmidt, who was obsessed with the eel, spent 20 years establishing its origins in the Sargasso.

It wasn’t until his father’s death from cancer, however, that Svensson decided to try his own hand at researching the creature. “I wouldn’t have written the book if my father hadn’t died,” he said. “Yes, it is a book about science and science history. But it’s also a way for me to try to write my way back to my origin, to my own Sargasso Sea.” In “The Book of Eels,” the younger Svensson’s memories of their nighttime fishing trips — the moonlit stillness giving way to a sudden thrash of slime — are lyrically recalled, and alternate with the natural history chapters.

Svensson’s insecurities surrounding his working-class background — evident, for example, in a passage in which he describes his boyhood envy for the superior fishing grounds of a local fishing club, “with their expensive fly fishing rods and their ridiculous little hats” — partly explain why he twined his past with the eel’s. “I had the feeling my story, and my family’s story, is not something to write books about,” he said. “The eels gave me something to hide behind.”

It helped that the eels themselves have kept so much hidden. As he wrote, Svensson found his book’s two stories coming together in strange ways. He would recall a willow that grew the bank of the stream where he and his father fished, for example, then discover that scientists describe the eel larva as shaped like a willow leaf. And much like an eel, his father turned out to have some ancestral secrets of his own.

In recent years, eels have become a flash point in southern Sweden. Although there is a long tradition of fishing them, the catch is strictly regulated, and the species, now endangered, has become a focus for environmental activists. With the exception of one his mother won in a Christmas lottery a few years back, Svensson no longer eats the fish as a matter of principle. But it is a tribute to the sensitivity with which he presents both the local culture and the eels’ plight that both fishermen and conservationists have praised the book.

In his quiet, studied way, Svensson is thrilled that readers have embraced his efforts to blend popular science with literary memoir. But more than anything, he believes they are responding to the eels’ own unknowable nature.

“We need enigmas,” he said. “We need questions that aren’t answered yet. Eels argue with our confidence that the world is explained.” “.

The Lansbury Estate

Image features National Firefighters Memorial, City of London, by John W. Mills.

From Wikipedia:

“The Lansbury Estate is a large, historic council housing estate in Poplar and Bromley-by-Bow in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It is named after George Lansbury, a Poplar councillor and Labour Party MP.

Lansbury Estate is one of the largest such estates in London. It occupies an area bounded by the East India Dock Road to the south, the Docklands Light Railway to the east and the Limehouse Cut canal to the north-west.

Layout of the estate, built on a site badly damaged by bombing during the Second World War, began in 1949. Construction of the estate started shortly before 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain, with Frederick Gibberd’s Chrisp Street Market area and the Trinity Independent Chapel. The construction of the housing and other land-uses extended eastwards, with the final phase, at Pigott Street, finished in 1982, near Bartlett Park.

The philosophy of the design was that new development should comprise neighbourhoods, and that within the neighbourhood should be all that a community required – flats, houses, churches, schools, an old people’s home, a pedestrianised shopping area and covered market. There should be pubs and open spaces, linked by footways. Traditional materials were used in the construction, such as London stock bricks and Welsh slate to counter the modern architecture.

The architecture critic Lewis Mumford wrote of the Lansbury Estate (1953) “Its design has been based not solely on abstract aesthetic principles, or on the economics of commercial construction, or on the techniques of mass production, but on the social constitution of the community itself, with its diversity of human interests and human needs. Thus the architects and planners have avoided not only the clichés of ´high rise´ building but the dreary prisonlike order that results from forgetting the very purpose of housing and the necessities of neighbourhood living.”

English Heritage has recognised the significance of the estate by listing some of the buildings including the SS Mary and Joseph Roman Catholic Church designed by Adrian Gilbert Scott; however, it noted that the estate has suffered considerable neglect, and also some well-meaning but ill-advised modernisation of the facilities within the associated market.

John Betjeman thought highly of the estate, along with the nearby St John’s Estate on the Isle of Dogs.

The Lansbury Estate was owned by the GLC and later by Tower Hamlets Council. After a stock transfer in 1998, the property was transferred to Poplar HARCA.

Langdon Park DLR station and All Saints DLR station serve the estate. Bromley-by-Bow tube station and Bow Road tube station are the nearest London Underground stations to the area. Limehouse station is the nearest National Rail station.

London Buses Routes 309 serve the centre of the area. With 15, 115, D6, D7, D8, 277, 135, D3 all serving the edge of the estate.”

Daniel Hickey of The Green Man, Blackheath Hill

Above: Daniel when he was licensee of the John Bull, 2 Bath street, Poplar E14, seen with second wife and their children Dan and Anastasia. The mother of Kathleen, also pictured, died of tuberculosis. Joseph was born in 1923.

(1921/Daniel Hickey/../../../Post Office Directory)

Daniel was the only one of perhaps twelve siblings whose life was not shortened by tuberculosis. On medical advice, his mother sent him to Ireland for an extended period, which he passed in long cycling excursions.

Local memory suggests that Daniel Hickey managed the off sales department, which sustained some war damage, for The Green Man. He and his family were rehoused at 5a, St. John’s Park after being “bombed out”.

Adjacent to the Royal Standard pub, Blackheath, is a local shopping centre called Stratheden Parade. Some shops were destroyed in a V-1 flying bomb incident on 21 June 1944. Following rebuilding, Daniel Hickey opened Hickey’s Off-Licence on the parade. In the early 1950s, his son Joseph (who managed the shop), Joe’s wife Evelyn, and their eldest children, Timothy and Simon, lived in the top flat above the shop.

Daniel Hickey died at 5a, St. John’s Park, on 31st December, 1958.

From: Old and New London: Volume 6. Originally published by Cassell, Petter & Galpin, London, 1878:

“…The village, or—as it is beginning to call itself—town of Blackheath, is built chiefly about Tranquil Vale; it has its churches and chapels, assembly-rooms, railway station, skating rink, banks, besides several good shops. At the end of the heath, near Blackheath Hill, is another collection of shops and dwellings, with a church and schools; here, too, is the principal inn, the “Green Man,” well known to holiday-makers.”

From Wikipedia:

“The Green Man was a public house on Blackheath Hill (now the A2), in Blackheath, London. It was an important stop for coach traffic owing to its position and was used as the headquarters of the Royal Blackheath Golf Club. It hosted “free-and-easy” music hall evenings in the 19th century and jazz and pop music in the 20th. It was a significant local landmark for over 300 years before its demolition in 1970.

The pub had existed since at least 1629. It was reportedly named after Herne the Hunter who is believed to have had a group of worshippers in a cavern below the premises. It became an important stop for coach traffic owing to its position at the top of Blackheath Hill and on the edge of the heath. It was subsequently used as the headquarters of Royal Blackheath Golf Club, the oldest golf course in the world.

The first recorded occasion of a toast to the “Immortal Memory” of Horatio Nelson was on Trafalgar Day (21 October), 1811 at the pub.

During the 19th century, the pub took customers from the Chocolate House on Shooters Hill Road which had been a prominent local establishment during the eighteenth century. The Chocolate House subsequently closed.

Madame Tussaud took her wax works show there on several occasions over three decades, the final one in late 1833 which was the last before finding a permanent home in London.

The Inn was also used as a postal collection point.

Between 1850 and 1902 it held “free-and-easy” music hall evenings.

In 1854, the bowling green to the rear of the pub was developed into properties, which now makes up part of Dartmouth Terrace. In 1868, the inn was demolished and rebuilt in a grand Victorian style. It housed a large function room that was used as a meeting place for various groups.

The Green Man: The pub/boxing gym that drew Tommy Farr, David Bowie and more

During the early 1960s, the pub hosted the Jazzhouse Club, a popular jazz music venue run by Colin Richardson, who later managed the New Jazz Orchestra and Colosseum. Guests included Graham Bond, Tubby Hayes, Ronnie Scott, Manfred Mann, Ian Carr and Jon Hiseman. Paul Simon played an early solo concert at the club as a last-minute replacement for Judy Collins. A sixteen-year-old David Bowie (then billed as David Jones) was the saxophonist with the Konrads, his first professional band, which was booked to play at the pub in 1963. Lead singer Roger Ferris cut himself on broken glass in the changing room and had to be hospitalised, so Bowie took over as lead singer for this and subsequent gigs.

In 1970, the pub was demolished and replaced by Allison Close, a block of flats.”

From the website Dover Kent Archives:


???? 1826+

WHITMARSH Thomas 1832-34+…

DE WINTON DONNING John Eden & HICKEY Daniel 1938+

ROSE Archie 1944+”

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)…”

The Wade’s Arms, 15 Jeremiah Street, Poplar

Local memory: seamen customarily agreed to settle their debts “under Ma Hickey’s clock”.


“Wade’s Arms, 15 Jeremiah Street, Poplar (Poplar index)

Existed from at least 1842. At Ryden Street before 1891; and the 1856 directory lists the address as East India road

Historical London public houses, Taverns, Inns, Beer Houses and Hotels.

The following entries are in this format:

1842/Henry Holt/../../../Robson’s Directory **

…August 1878/Daniel Hickey, deceased/Outgoing Licensee/../../East London Observer

August 1878/Bridget Hickey, widow and administratix of Daniel Hickey/Incoming Licensee/../../East London Observer

1881/Bridget Hickey/Publican, Widow/34/Ireland/Census

1881/John Hickey/Son/15/Poplar, Middlesex/Census

1881/Annie Hickey/Daughter/8/Poplar, Middlesex/Census

1881/Ellen Hickey/Daughter/6/Poplar, Middlesex/Census

1881/Daniel Hickey/Son/5/Poplar, Middlesex/Census

1881/Joseph Hickey/Son/4/Poplar, Middlesex/Census

1881/Annie Regan/Barmaid/21/Ratcliff, Middlesex/Census

1881/Thomas Conway/Barman/28/Ireland/Census

1891/Bridget Hickey/Public House Keeper/47/Tipperary, Ireland/Census

1891/John Hickey/Son/25/Wapping, London/Census

1891/Annie Hickey/Daughter/19/Wapping, London/Census

1891/Ellen Hickey/Daughter/17/Wapping, London/Census

1891/Daniel Hickey/Son/16/Whitechapel, London/Census

1891/Joseph Hickey/Son/14/Poplar, London/Census

1891/Alice Higgins/barmaid/18/Wapping, London/Census

1891/John Ryan/Potman/17/Tipperary, Ireland/Census

1891/Mrs Bridget Hickey/../../../Post Office Directory

1895/Mrs Bridget Hickey/../../../Post Office Directory

1899/Mrs Bridget Hickey/../../../Post Office Directory

1901/Bridget Hickey/Licensed Victualler/57/Ireland/Census

1901/Daniel Hickey/Son, Barman/26/Whitechapel, London/Census

1901/Joseph Hickey/Son, Barman/25/Poplar, London/Census

1901/Patrick Ryan/Cellarman/28/Ireland/Census

1901/Alice Higgins/Barmaid/22/Snowhill/Census

1901/Maggie Bresnau/Barmaid/21/Ireland/Census

1901/Elizabeth Maloney/Cook/25/../Census

1901/John Healey/Visitor, Ships Storekeeper/49/Ireland/Census

1901/Michael Ryan/Visitor, Coppersmith/27/Ireland/Census

…1934/Daniel Hickey/../../../Kellys Directory

1938/Hubert Dolan/../../../Post Office Directory

1944/Mrs Eva C Izzard/../../../Post Office Directory”

Bridget (Brigid) Hickey of the Wades Arms

From Geoffrey Tillotson’s review of Ben Tillett’s Memories and Reflections, in The Fortnightly Review of December 1931:

“…In spite of occasional overwriting and certain phrases which it would need Mr. Tillett’s voice and gesture to bring off (for example, “the great big Irish soul Mrs. Hickey”), the record has a headlong power which it is quite impossible to resist…”

From: Tom Mann’s Memoirs, 1923 (Book one: Europe; V. The dock strike of 1889):

“…I must give myself the satisfaction here of putting on record the great kindness and forbearance shown to the Strike Committee, and to the stream of deputations they had to deal with, by Mrs Hickey of the Wades Arm. The hostess, her son, and her daughters had, indeed, a heavy task. We practically took possession of the house, not for an hour or two, but for all day and every day during the five weeks the strike lasted. But Mrs Hickey treated these fellows — ourselves of the committee included — as though she had been mother to the lot. She literally kept a *shillelagh handy, with which she frequently, in a half-serious way, would threaten any young fellow who was too noisy; but it was fine that these rough chaps respected her so thoroughly, and that she had the splendid tact to make it easy for them to keep good order all through the trying time.

From the beginning the Wade’s Arms pub in Jeremiah Street, Poplar, became the strike centre. Landlady Mrs Hickey became like a mother to the strikers. Whatever time it was when the weary leaders arrived back at their headquarters she was there with a welcome meal or some refreshments and her constant enthusiasm played an important role in maintaining morale over the five weeks of the strike.

There was a constant stream of visitors to the first floor room where the committee discussed the conduct of the strike including the placing of pickets and the distribution of strike pay. Clergymen visited with food and clothing, letters were delivered, collecting boxes were handed in, reporters demanded interviews for their newspapers and the publicity this would give the strike was desperately needed. It was an exhausting time for all the strike committee, who often stayed at the pub for a few short hours in which they were able to grab some desperately, needed sleep. Mrs Hickey provided some marvellous stews and a big breakfast for all the leaders.

As funds grew women, including Mrs. Burns and Eleanor Marx, daughter of Karl Marx, were brought in to organise the financing of the strike…”

*her implement was in fact a cow’s tail, the large vertebra being the business end.

Richard Clancy writes at

“Mrs Bridget Hickey, the landlady of the Wade’s Arms, was a witness at my great-grandmother Margaret Clancy’s marriage to her second husband George Charlston, on the 18th November 1883 at St Marys and St Josephs church, Poplar.

Margaret and her first husband, Daniel Clancy, lived prior to his death in 1881 in Grove Street, which became Bygrove Street. Bridget Hickey herself was given a mention in the Stepney Docks Web site, in relation to the Stepney Dock Strike of 1889, cooking food for the leaders of the strike, despite a fairly (sic) large family of her own to feed, on perhaps, as a widow, a very limited amount of money. I am proud as a retired person these days, having discovered Bridget, during my searching for my own family ancestors, was a good friend of my great grandmother.”

Ben Tillett (1860-1943)

From: Rosebery – Statesman in Turmoil (2005), by Leo McKinstry:

…the dockers’ trade union leader Ben Tillett, who served on the LCC in the 1890s, wrote in his memoirs in 1931 that ‘Lord Rosebery was one of our great men, despite being an aristocrat…He entered deeply into the life of the poor. He certainly studied poverty and he came into contact with the worst and most offensive side of slumdom: the fetid atmosphere, the tuberculosis-laden air of wretched hovels into which the poor were crushed as in a lethal chamber…

…Ben Tillett argued that Rosebery ‘brought to the chairmanship of the London County Council an almost regal demeanour. He raised the Council, as he did the Chair, to a position of great authority. His was pioneer work in the great revolutionary effort in municipal life, and it stands as a model today. He really made London government a living thing.’

From: TUC History Online:

“Ben Tillett (1860-1943) took miscellaneous jobs in the Bristol area, including circus work, before becoming a seaman and travelling the world. In 1880, he settled in London, working in tea warehouses along the River Thames, and formed in 1887 the Tea Operatives’ and General Labourers’ Association. When this union took strike action on 14 August 1889, they were joined by the stronger Stevedores’ Unions and given organisational and propagandist support by many of London’s well-known socialists. The strike brought Tillett national recognition – not only did he play a continuous role in negotiations, but also shared responsibility with John Burns and Tom Mann for public speaking and organising pickets. When the strike ended on 16 September the Tea Operatives Union was reorganised to become the Dock, Wharf, Riverside and General Labourers’ Union and Tillett remained as General Secretary until 1922 when the union was merged into the Transport and General Workers’ Union. He was an MP 1917-1924 and 1929-31.”


“…Born in Bristol, Tillett was twenty-nine when the strike started. Self-educated, he had a sensitive face and a stammer. Beatrice Webb described him as “a light-haired little man with the face of a religious enthusiast.”

From: Rosebery – Statesman in Turmoil (2005), by Leo McKinstry:

Beatrice Webb, herself a woman of raging internal conflict between Puritanism and passion, wrote this about Rosebery in March 1900…: ‘He is a strange being, self-conscious and sensitive to a more extreme degree than any mortal I have ever come across…’ “.

From the website of Spartacus Educational:

“…In 1889 Tillet’s union members became involved in the London Dock Strike. The dockers demanded four hours continuous work at a time and a minimum rate of sixpence an hour. Tillet soon emerged with Tom Mann and John Burns as one of the three main leaders of the strike. During the strike Tillett lost his speech impediment and was acknowledged as one of the labour movement’s greatest orators…”

Healing broken things

Image: (Wikipedia) “Vachellia xanthophloea is a tree in the family Fabaceae, commonly known in English as the fever tree. This species of Vachellia is native to eastern and southern Africa (Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Somalia, South Africa, Eswatini, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe). It has also become a landscape tree in other warm climates, outside of its natural range. Fever trees are fast growing and short lived. They have a tendency to occur as single-aged stands, and are subject to stand-level diebacks that have been variously attributed to elephants, water tables, and synchronous senescence.

The name xanthophloea is derived from Greek and means “yellow bark” (ξανθός “yellow, golden”; φλοιός “bark”). The common name, fever tree, comes from its tendency to grow in swampy areas: early European settlers in the region noted that malarial fever was contracted in areas with these trees. It is now understood that malarial fever is spread by mosquitos living in the swampy areas that often support this tree species, and not by the tree species itself. This is because mosquitos often lay eggs in moist swampy areas, and they need blood to do that.”

On 28 March 2018, Anna McKerrow interviewed BookTrust‘s President, Sir Michael Morpurgo:

“What inspired you to write the main character of Flamingo Boy as a child with autism?

I have a grandson, Laurence, who has autism. I had never realised until he became part of our family what this really meant, or what it was. I have had many years now to witness his growing, to witness the devotion and love of his parents, and to get to know him more closely.

I had not thought of writing a book about him, partly because the subject had been so well written about before and partly because my understanding of autism was too shallow. But then, I went down to the South of France, to the Camargue region with Clare, my wife.

It’s a wild and wonderful national park, where black bulls and white horses roam, and where pink flamingos fly. Whilst I was there, I thought then of an autistic boy growing up in a farmhouse in amongst these creatures, and how he might relate to them and they might relate to him.

I decided to set the story during the Second World War when France was an occupied country. Where children and people who were different were under threat whether they were gypsies or Jews or people who did not seem to be like other people, children with autism amongst them.

We love the theme of healing broken things that is so central to this story set in wartime; why is it so important for children to read books about war, do you think?

Thank you for saying so. I’m often asked this question about writing about war for children. I think it’s because I was a war baby, born in 1943. As I grew up, I soon learned how war had torn my world apart. I lived next to a bombsite, played in it because we weren’t supposed to.

But I soon learned that much more than buildings was destroyed by war. My parents had split up because of it. I knew my young uncle Pieter, killed in 1940, in the RAF, through a photograph, through the stories I heard of him and through the grief my mother lived every day of her life. It had a profound effect on me.

War continues to divide people, to change them forever, and I write about it because I want people to understand the absolute futility of war.

Wars are still happening today and children see the effects of the suffering all around them, through their devices and through the people they know. Knowing the sensitivities of children, we have to be careful not to traumatise them, to approach it with hope at the centre of the story. But nonetheless, I think we have to talk straight about these issues and not talk down to children.

Horses feature again in this book, albeit carousel ones! Does this book have similarities to War Horse and Private Peaceful?

In Flamingo Boy it is the white horses of the Camargue that roam free there that we were so struck by when we visited. My wife and daughter love horses but I’ve never had a particular connection with them or any other animal in particular.

But I am really interested in the relationship between animals and humans. I think they often bring out the best in us because they listen without passing judgement and accept us for who we are without prejudice. For some people, this can be the most important relationship – a loving and uncomplicated one – as it is for Albert and Joey in War Horse.

My fascination with animals also comes partly from my life. Running our charity Farms for City Children for so many years, we would have groups of children from inner cities coming to live and work on the farm for a week. They would become the farmers – feeding and caring for the animals. I think watching these children and how they interacted with the animals inspired many of my stories.

What other children’s books set in wartime do you like?

There are many but two in particular are Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian – a beautifully written book about how war affects the lives of civilians, particularly children, sent away from home. And Michael Foreman’s War Game, beautifully and sensitively illustrated, centres on the 1914 Christmas when German and British soldiers had a game of football in no man’s land. You know by the end that it wasn’t a war between people, it was a war between powers.

And what was your favourite book of any kind as a child?

It would have to be The Elephant’s Child by Rudyard Kipling; it’s the book my mother read to me and my brother Pieter over and over again because we asked for it all the time and because I loved to hear her voice reading it to me. Sitting there on the bed, she took us on a journey across the seas, to Africa, to the Great Grey(-green), Greasy Limpopo River, all hung about with fever trees.”

“…although these stories are unreal, they are not untrue …”*

*Bruno Bettelheim, “The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales” (1976).

Katherine Wilde reported for The Telegraph on 29.6.18:

“From needing to “kiss a few frogs” to “finding our happy ever after”, watching endless romcoms that mirror the stories we fell asleep to, not to mention the next-level excitement that greets any kind of royal wedding, we’re clearly still hooked on these less-than-likely tales, however little relation they bear to the more troll and ogre-packed realities of daily life.

So why are we so keen to see fairy tales come true? And why do these narratives stay with us well beyond our childhood (and despite everything we’ve learned along the way)?

According to child psychologist Sally Goddard Blythe, director of The Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology and author of The Genius of Natural Childhood: Secrets of Thriving Children, even in our own age, fairy tales still have a lot to teach children about life, and indeed give us key imaginary experiences that shape us throughout our lives.

“Fairy tales are important not because they show children how life is, but because they give form to deep fears and dreams about life through fantasy,” Goddard Blythe says.

“The important thing to remember is that children take on these stories at the developmental level they are capable of. In fairy tales, it’s always clear that this isn’t the real world. The characters might be unfamiliar to the child but the problems and the feelings that are dealt with are themselves often very true to life. Fairy tales give children a way, through stories that are safely set apart from themselves, to understand some of the really confusing and difficult feelings that they can’t yet articulate for themselves.”

Firstly, she explains, the black-and-white nature of fairy tales helps children feel comfortable and that makes them perfect for learning important life lessons, such as those around behaviour and basic morality.

“The simplistic, good-versus-bad narrative of fairy tales and the characters within them help children deal with uncertainty – it’s uncertainty that makes children anxious. By setting up this clear dichotomy from the beginning, and following this basic rubric throughout, whatever the story, fairy tales help children feel safe and comfortable with the story as it develops. So even if the hero or heroine at the centre of the tale experiences difficulties or hardship along the way, children can feel confident that they are going in the right direction.”

Conversely, the wicked stepmothers, witches, trolls, wolves and imps that make life generally difficult for everyone supply another important life lesson. “Learning that there are some wicked people in the world isn’t necessarily a bad thing for children,” says Goddard Blythe. “We don’t always help our children by allowing them to believe that the world they go into will always be easy or that other people will always understand them or make allowances for them.”

Fairy tales allow kids a safe place to explore the idea that life isn’t always easy, that things can go wrong, and people don’t always have your best interests at heart. At the same time, as the “good” characters are usually rewarded at the end, it’s a way of reinforcing positively the importance of being kind, thoughtful and true…”

Olivia Petter reported for The Independent on 18.10.18:

“…parents are imposing bans on these classic Disney tales, with Keira Knightley and Kristen Bell among those criticising some of the key storylines, which depict women being rescued by men and kissed while they sleep.

Donald Haase, author of Fairytales and Feminism, encourages parents to read these stories sceptically, so as to confront such archaisms rather than endorse them.

“They can read or tell classical tales in ways that intentionally question or subvert the stereotypes,” the Wayne State University professor told The Independent.

So, what are the stereotypes that parents should be discouraging?

Women are passive damsels who can only be saved by men

What do Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella all have in common?

Aside from porcelain skin and inexplicably glossy hair, they are each saved from a lifetime of misery and/or eternal sleep by a heroic Prince Charming figure.

Typically, this character is a glorified caricature of defunct masculinity, incensed solely by the egotism of a heroic quest for “true love”.

Naturally, this is as offensive to men as it is to women.

“This places a large amount of unnecessary stress onto both sexes and in particular women as they believe that they should take up the western traditional role of being a woman,” explains Dr Victoria Showunmi, who lectures in gender studies at UCL.

Marriage is the ultimate reward

In a culture where we’re getting hitched later than ever before and many choose never to marry at all, the compulsory “let’s get married and live happily ever after” narrative seems practically medieval.

Unfortunately, it is one of perennial focus in fairytales and subsequent remakes of stories such as The Little Mermaid, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, all of which culminate in a grand celebration of matrimony.

An everlasting romantic union is even the be-all and end-all for supposedly “modern” fairytales such as Shrek and Stardust.

Not only does this present marriage as the sole goal for the male and female characters, which subsequently characterises them as vapid, but it totally abhors the value of professional, financial and social success, all of which seldom feature in these narratives.

The implication, Showunmi argues, is that an unmarried person is a “failure which society has no place for.”

“Love is seen as a concept which happens when you find somebody to marry and not seen as evolving philosophical concept,” she told The Independent.

Lack of racial/physical/sexual diversity

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Disney princesses are beautiful, slim and more often than not, white.

While there are some exceptions (Mulan, Pocahontas and Princess Jasmine), traditionally, a white face reigns supreme.

Equally problematic is the unrealistic body standards set by whippet-thin Belles and Ariels, who dictate the animated fairytale world.

For a child encountering these stories for the first time, such restrictive aesthetic standards can be hugely detrimental, portraying the idea that beauty and happiness is synonymous with thinness.

On the rare occasion that a “plus-size” character features in one of Disney’s traditional remakes of a classic Grimms fairytale, they are either the typified antagonist or the benevolent maternal figure – think The Little Mermaid’s Ursula and Beauty and the Beast’s Mrs Potts.

Plus, these characters are almost always heterosexual.

While some celebrated the recent Beauty and the Beast remake for featuring a homosexual character (LeFou played by Josh Gad), the fact that this was simply a mere allusion rather than a definitive, plot-driving characteristic was deemed a feeble attempt at sexual diversity by LGBTQ campaigners.

Female characters are either bound to the home…

Another disheartening commonality that Snow White, Belle and Cinderella share is their heightened domesticity.

The only way Belle can save her poor father from the Beast’s entrapment is by becoming his house maid and Cinderella is bound to a life of floor-scrubbing while poor Snow White has to cater for seven male dwarves – one of whom is unappetisingly called Sneezy.

At least none of them were named Smelly.

Or they’re evil step mothers/sisters/witches

That’s not to say that it’s all aprons and marigolds for our fairytale heroines.

One Google search for “fairytale villains” generates a slew of sadistic female “baddies”: Cinderella’s evil step mother, her “ugly sisters”, Ursula, the wicked witch of the west.

These women are vindictive towards one another and negate any concept of sisterhood.

They represent what literary scholar Ruth Bottigheimer called an “apparent inner drive to incriminate females” in her book Grimms’ Bad Girls and Bold Boys.

These rancorous caricatures present us with the “same theme” time and time again, explains Showunmi, that could severely inhibit a child’s propensity to form stable and supportive relationships.

While fairytales can be brilliant for inspiring imaginative discussions in children, parents must be vigilant in their way of sharing these tales so as to avoid promoting outdated ideologies they continue to foster.”