sitelogo

what-we-do

adjust sizeadjust sizeadjust size

News

‘Tin Baths and Doodlebugs’ published!

‘Tin Baths and Doodlebugs’, a collection of life stories from Tower Hamlets, grew out of the befriending work of Tower Hamlets Friends & Neighbours. Each story is unique, reflecting the teller’s experience through his or her own words: the devastation of the Blitz, the pain of moving to a new country, childhood experiences, schooldays, jobs of work, courting, loss of family and friends. The East End has always been a melting pot of cultures: as well as stories from Stepney, Bow and Bethnal Green we have story tellers from St Kitts, Ghana, Ireland and Bangladesh. These are precious records of individuals, but they are also an important part of the history of Tower Hamlets.

The booklet is free, but all donations will be gratefully received. Please contact us if you would like a copy.

Here are some extracts from the booklet to give you a flavour of these personal, real-life stories:

"I was born on 31 January, 1905, in a house on the corner of Seabright Street and Bethnal Green Road. It was an old house and my main memory of it is that there were lots of red bugs in the woodwork… I remember the house being cold and the outside toilet was freezing. We used an old tin bath that used to hang on a hook on the yard wall. Friday night was bath night, with my oldest sister helping the younger ones. We all used the same water, which was black by the time we finished." Minnie Hofert
"I remember helping my brother decorate the kitchen for my mum. I would pawn my new shoes, get half-a-crown, and a ticket, and buy some wallpaper. I used to paste it and my brother would do the rest. I’d also wash the lace curtains. I would clean the kitchen windows and I would do the painting. I’ve always loved doing housework." Rayner Wagner
"When we were young my sister Violet and I were given half-a-crown by our mum to buy all the shopping. We used to get a leg of lamb, all the vegetables and other bits and pieces. We used to go to the Old Road, along Commercial Road. Violet and I used to make eyes at the man who was auctioneering the meat and we used to get it cheaper, sixpence for a leg of lamb, we didn’t do bad really." Rosetta Garling
"We lived in a four-bedroomed place in College Buildings…There was an outside toilet and a cold water tap downstairs and a tin bath. We would go to Gaulston Street Baths for a wash. There were bathrooms on the roof, where we could have a cold bath in the summer." Abby Levy
"The 1948 Olympics was the first one held after the war. I attended the Games when I wasn’t working. I was 22 years old. I caught the tube from Liverpool Street to White City…People had been on rations for food and clothes and there was very little sport during the war, so this gave them a chance to stretch their legs…The Games gave people a chance to pick themselves up." Lawrence Betts
"I spent my seventeenth birthday in a war shelter, so I couldn’t really celebrate it…The house was bombed on my eighteenth birthday. I lost all my presents. Luckily we was in the shelter, which was in the basement of the Spillers’ Building in Houndsditch." Marion Zargel
"When I was nine years old we were evacuated to the country…I remember being taken to the railway station…We all had our gas mask, which was in a cardboard box, and a bag of clothes…We were all standing on the platform looking at each other, wondering where we were going to go. We were all very upset as we knew we had to leave our parents behind and a lot of us were crying" Georgina Fowell
"We lived in a little house in Barnet street, adjoining Kinder Street, E1. Kinder, in the Yiddish and German language, means children and there were plenty of them so I was never lonely, even being an only child." Rose Grayman