Weaver House, in the fringe for centuries

continued from part 4


Weaver House in Windlows Live Local

Weaver House is isolated in every direction, the nearest residential neighbor is almost a half kilometer away. That’s pretty unique in central London.

It’s attracted artists .. not the fashion oriented artists brooding and posing throughout Shoreditch, but more to down earth artists. One World 2004, a documentary on children in Columbia’s civil war. And a violin maker. There’s a non-trading company based at Weaver House, Trojan Thinking Limited, which I’d have to pay 18 pounds to learn more about, but judging by its name and the nature of public information on the Pedley Street Site, could well have been connected to protesting the development.

Booth Poverty Map of Pedley Street and surrounds, from 1898-99. Purple and light blue are classed “Poor”.

British History Online reports on conditions leading to the construction of Weaver House .. “Weaver House in Pedley Street, part of the Hare Marsh estate, opened in 1929 with 16 flats”. It was the third council house built by the Borough, at that time Bethnal Green. This was a very tense time in the area .. historically very poor, and over the preceding decades the borough absorbed thousands of Jewish rufugees. This is the area where Oswald Mosley virulently stirred up by Anti-Semitism. The second housing estate built by the Borough was Lenin estate in 1927, named by the socialist controlled council, which actually opposed Jews becoming residents. Guess they didn’t realize Lenin himself had Jewish ancestry.

A liberal progressive council took over in 1928, and built Weaver House the next year. Perhaps to counter the past Anti-Semitism of the council, Weaver House is located in what was predominantly Jewish, dense slums and tenements. Even in the 1891 Census of Pedley Street, the majority of names are Jewish names. The earlier Bethnal Green Building and Social Conditions from 1876 to 1914 states that “by 1899 Jews formed at least 95 per cent of the population south of Hare Street and 75-95 per cent in Brick Lane and the Boundary Street estate (the former Nichol), but less than 25 per cent and often less than 5 per cent in most of Bethnal Green”. Weaver House was built in the ghetto.

WW II was responsible for the isolated position of Weave House. “Bombing affected 21,700 houses, including 2,233 which were destroyed, 893 made uninhabitable, and 2,457 seriously damaged.” I haven’t examined the Bomb Census, but with the area bordering the railway line, this was likely a prime target for the Luftwaffe. Amazingly, Weaver House was unscathed as everything around it was destroyed. Would be amazing to see post-war aerial surveys.

east end historic

Weaver was built on the Hare Marsh estate. The only remaining site on the ground is short stub of a street called Hare Marsh. This area hits much further back to 1653, when the former feudal lands were acquired by the Carter family in 1653 The area gradually built up, with poor being pushed out of the City of London proper sweeping in. The predominant industry was silk weaving, and brick making. It was always marginal and poor. Tower Hamlets has defined today’s edge of the economic wave as the “City Fringe”, pushing many refugees and immigrants (now Bangledeshi) further out, as marginal artistic and entertainment activities move in. The are weavers and plenty of bricks, but now the fashion and expensive homes are being built right there.

Tomorrow, final part, the technical reflection