London's Hidden History
Just up the road is Poplar library, now sadly closed down, but in the front of the building boldly stands the statue of Clement Attlee, another pioneering East Ender, who became a Labour prime minister after the Second World War. But we are here to wonder at the Nicholas Hawksmoor masterpiece, St Anne's Church in Three Colt Street.
Built between 1712 and 1724 it has the highest clock tower in London after Big Ben and had the same clock maker. The church tower was historically a landmark for shipping travelling up the Thames.
Hawksmoor was a protègè of Wren and built some of the most spectacular churches in London from Christ Church in Spitalfields (the churchyard known as Itchycoo Park - remember The Small Faces?) to Westminster Abbey.
This area was the heart of old Chinatown, the Strangers' Home for Asiatics opened in West India Dock Road in 1890 when Chinese people working for Blue Funnel Line started to settle in Pennyfields and Limehouse Causeway. Of course the romantic legacy of Chinatown is of the opium dens frequented by Oscar Wilde, Conan Doyle and all the other class A abusers!
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