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Hidden History of London

London's Hidden History
Canning Town

Charles Dickens wrote in 1857 in 'Household Words' "there is one suburb on the border of the Essex marshes which is quite cut off from the Metropolitan Buildings Act, which banned obnoxious trades from London, it lies just without its boundaries, and therefore is chosen as a place for offensive trade establishments turned out of town - those of oil-boilers, gut-spinners, varnish-makers, printers' ink, soap and tallow makers! The STINK TRADES!"

But this is not fair to Canning Town as it also has an illustrious history. In 1855 the Victoria Docks opened and in 1860 HMS Warrior, the first British iron-clad battleship was launched. In 1882 James Kier Hardy, the pioneering Labour MP was elected and in 1929 the first Coloured Men's Institute was opened.

Alfred Dickens, Charles' brother was the author of a report Sewage, Drainage and Supply of Water and the Sanitary Condition of the Inhabitants of West Ham. A little light bedtime reading for you!

Seriously he made the West Ham Board of Health realise the terrible conditions in which the locals were living.

Now how about this, if Charlie Chaplin was to meet Mahatma Ghandi where would it be? Canning Town of course in 1931!


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