Portland stone article (issue 209), from Ken Wilson
It was indeed highly thought of, so when a cement made from limestone and clay that had been fired was first offered as an improvement on lime for building work it was called 'Portland Cement', comparing its product with that stone. First made by Joseph Aspdin of Leeds in the early 19th century, it needed some improvement, mainly hotter firing, before it was eventually accepted.
Basque child refugees, from Douglas Seaton
I was interested to read the pieces about Ipswich and the Basque child refugees in the last two Newsletters. Here is a photograph of how a group of them actually looked on arrival in Wakefield, Yorkshire in 1937, and a pitiful sight they make. The clergyman helping to receive them was my father's uncle.
Kenyon & Trott and Mutual House, from Jo Edwards
You've done it again! The memories flood back! Kenyon and Trott I remember very well. My father, who had a woodworking business in Colchester specialising in church furniture, very often asked me to call there to take or collect bits and pieces that needed to be incorporated into either new or restored furniture. And the photo of the building society office .... oh my word! My fiancé's father was a great friend of the manager and Paul and I went to that office for our first mortgage. I was 22 and he was 21! It was a very hot, sunny afternoon. I can remember coming out of the building thrilled to bits because we could buy our house! The sugar beet factory was behind Paul's parents' house. They lived in Elton Park. Their house is now a care home. I am so sorry that the factory is being demolished. Silly, but it brings back so many happy memories. I love your Newsletter! I wallow in nostalgia as I read every edition! [Jo is Chair & Programme Organiser of the Colchester Civic Society.]
More on Kenyon & Trott, Electro Platers from Philip Hancock
I was very interested to read Ron Wragg's account of working at Kenyon & Trott in the October Newsletter, particularly as I too had a workshop in St Stephens Lane (above J.G. Andrews watch & jewellery shop) from 1970 until the whole area was demolished to make way for Buttermarket Shopping Centre in the 1980s.
As a keen photographer, I decided to record many of the small workshops that operated in that area but, like Kenyon & Trott, were about to close or move to alternative premises. These included Rogers engravers and a spectacle repair workshop which provided a service to many of the town's opticians.
[We will publish more of Philip's fascinating photographs in our next issue. -Ed.]
Shoreditch and Bethnal Green from Linda Erith
I found the article by Janice Croucher in the October issue very interesting as my maternal great great grandparents, Andrew and Sarah Potts, were silk-weavers in Bethnal Green and ended their days in Bethnal Green Workhouse, Waterloo Road. They are recorded on the 1851 census as living at 78 Hare Street, now called Cheshire Street, with their daughter Mary Sophia. Their occupation is given as Silk Hand Loom Weavers and their daughter's as a Machine Silk Winder.
I don't think they were skilled weavers and probably entered the workhouse sometime between 1861 and 1871. The 1860 commercial treaty with France allowed the import of cheap French silk which finished off the ‘casual' silk weaving trade and by 1866 there was widespread unemployment, a cholera outbreak and the price of bread soared owing to a poor harvest. All these indicators point to the workhouse for Andrew and Sarah. Their daughter, already married with children and living in shared accommodation, would have been unable to support them.
Because of their age when they entered the workhouse, they probably did not have to work but passed their time in a day room (forerunner of today's care homes). Amazingly, they lived to a great age. Andrew is recorded as being 77 when he died in 1883 of ‘old age' and Sarah is recorded as being 86 when she died in 1889 of ‘senile decay'. As a modern day comparison, the male life expectancy in Tower Ramparts in 2004/5 was 73.9 years and the female life expectancy was 79.2 years.
There have been many surveys done of the poor in that area and in 1848 Dr Hector Gavin published his report, Sanitary ramblings; being sketches and illustrations of Bethnal Green. These are just some of his findings:
• 94% of streets without sewers
• 40-50 people sharing a privy
• A single standpipe with intermittent water supply
• The average age of death: 26.6 years
I would think not unlike the conditions that existed at that time in The Potteries in Ipswich.
NB: The Salvation Army was founded by William Booth, whose statue can be seen in Whitechapel Road, not Charles Booth.