Forest Gate Faces depicts the lives of the people of Forest Gate over the last 250 years.
There are botanists, philanthropists, surgeons, artists, actors, sportsmen and other members of the community from the many diverse cultures that have made up the population of the area.
As well as formal portraits, the images are of everyday events: children at play, family gatherings, community celebrations, poignant reunions and sad goodbyes.
Although some of the locations remain much the same, if we look carefully at the photographs we catch glimpses of how things were in yesteryear; see how fashions have changed and how few cars there were in the streets.
These images – many of which have never been previously displayed – come from private family collections and the London Borough of Newham’s archive.
The Carol Johnson collection comprises her own family photographs and those of friends and other Forest Gate families both past and present. It is their generosity that has made this exhibition possible.
John ‘Jack’ Travers Cornwell was born on the 8th of January 1900 in Clyde Cottage, Clyde Place, Leyton. He was the son of working-class parents, Eli and Lily Cornwell (formerly King) and had two brothers: Ernest, born in1898, George (1901) and a sister Lily (1905). He also had a half-brother named Arthur (1888) and a half-sister named Alice (1890). Their mother was Alice Cornwell (formerly Carpenter).
The family moved to No.10 Alverstone Road, Little Ilford, Manor Park, in 1910. Jack attended Walton Road School in Manor Park and was a keen Boy Scout in the Little Ilford Troop at St Mary’s mission. When Jack left school he became a delivery boy for Brooke Bond & Co. and then worked as a dray boy with the Whitbread’s Brewery Depot in Manor Park.
At the outbreak of war, Jack’s father Eli, an ex-soldier, re-enlisted as a Private in the 57th Coy. Royal Defence Corps. It was The Royal Navy that appealed to Jack and at the age of 15 he took references from his Headmaster and his employer along to a local recruitment office and enlisted.
The Second World War (1939–45) in East Ham and West Ham
The 1939 – 45 War (or the Second World War) was the worst and only truly global war in history. It was actually a number of linked wars which began for different reasons but ended together in 1945.
The war in Europe had its immediate origins in the actions of the German leader Adolph Hitler. He wanted to reverse Germany’s defeat in the FirstWorld War (1914 – 18) and to establish a German Empire over Europe and possibly the world. Britain and the British Empire were the only countries to fight against Germany and later Japan from the war’s start to its end. Some countries changed sides over the course of the war. The countries fighting on the British side were known as the Allies. Countries fighting on the German side were known as the Axis powers.
This exhibition commemorates the 200th anniversary of the 1807 Abolition of the Slave Trade Act. The Act outlawed the practice by British ships and crews of forcibly removing Africans from their homeland to a life of slavery. This marked the beginning of the end for the transatlantic traffic in human beings and was the culmination of one of the first and most successful public campaigns in history.
Whilst it would be another quarter of a century before slavery itself was finally abolished throughout the British Empire, this Bicentenary gives us the opportunity to remember the millions who suffered; to pay tribute to the courage and moral conviction of all those – black and white – who campaigned for abolition; and to demand to know why today, in some parts of the world, forms of slavery still persist two centuries after the argument for abolition in this country was won.
Newham has many residents from an African Caribbean background who are descended from those who were once enslaved. The Borough is proud that those people have made Newham their home and made an important contribution to our diverse community.
Click on the image or the link below to view the full exhibition (pdf).