Any East Hammer, or indeed any Newhamite who has an interest in their local area and its history will not fail to be fascinated by the work of Anil Vekaria. Inspired by memories shared with him by his neighbours, themselves lifelong residents and some from local families stretching back several generations, Anil has delved deep into libraries, archives and records, corroborating their stories and bringing many lost gems of local lore back to the surface. The resulting collection of images and accompanying information (which can be seen here) really brings our local past to vivid life.
Did you know, for example, that the Beatles played East Ham? Twice? That was in 1963 at the Granada Theatre, now the White House venue (see some backstage photos here). You may also be surprised to see photos of the tram system that once dominated High Street North and Barking Road, and to learn that there was once a direct train route from East Ham to central London (whatever happened to that, eh?).
Judging from Anil’s photos, High Street North rather sadly used to be a very different place – before the betting shops took over, there was a smart tailor’s, a piano shop, Marks and Spencer, plus a cinema where Primark now stands. He has also researched East Ham’s tragic experience of the Blitz, alternative explanations (to our own!) of the East Ham coat of arms, and the stories behind some of our area’s idiosyncratic street names (Bendish Road, anyone?).
Enough from us now – go and enjoy immersing yourself in Anil’s good work!
(This post is made with Anil’s permission and photos are taken from his collection.)
Photos below clockwise from left: an East Ham tram; an old view of High Street North; a view of the High Street showing the now defunct Gaumont cinema.