Working Lives

Old Canning Town

An Impression of James Keir Hardie and his Constituency a year before he was elected in 1892, gives a flavour of what the area was like in Victorian times.

Jack Petchey

Jack Petchey came from a working class background with very few advantages but became one of the UKs most successful businessmen.

Jack Petchey

Walter Hill

Walter Harold Hill was born in Canning Town on 5th May 1916. He is seen here in the Second World War, when he served in the Royal Army Service Corps. After the war, in civilian life, he worked for the GPO in the Brentwood area. He died in 1976, aged 60.

(Photograph and information supplied by his daughter Sharon Hill)


Walter Hill

Robertson & Woodcock

This horse-drawn delivery van was owned by Robertson & Woodcock, the forerunner of Trebor Sweets. The photograph was taken in 1910 with Driver B. Fretwell in charge.

Robertson & Woodcock

Stratford Market -3

Before the days of the supermarket and refrigerated lorries, food had to be moved quickly. Here is a day in the life of the old Stratford Fruit & Vegetable Market.

Stratford Market -1

Stratford had its own fruit and vegetable market. Here is an account of the opening, from the Hackney Gazette, 4th October 1879.

Census 1901

Every ten years since 1841 a census has been taken of households in the country. Here is a short account by one enumerator working in East Ham, taken from the Stratford Express, 18th May 1901:


The great increase of population throughout the West Ham division and the East Ham sub-division induced us to "look up" a "Census man," and ascertain from him something respecting the alleged overcrowding with any other items of interest. Although somewhat reticent at first, fearing to incur the pains and penalties of "divulging" or affording information, he eventually "opened out" avoiding names of persons or streets.

"Twas a poorly paid job," he said, "in fact not yet paid for, and nothing would induce me to 'hook on' again. However, as I had secured an appointment there was nothing left for me but to carry out my contract to the best of my ability. I knew my district thoroughly, and was also pretty well known, and this fact made the work of delivering the schedules somewhat easier than it would otherwise have been. Children at play in the streets would rush in to their parents, calling out, 'Mother here comes Mr.----- he is giving everybody blue papers and writin' sumfin on it.' This brought many folks to the doors and saved delay."

To say it was all plain sailing would however be incorrect, many persons considering it impertinence or impudence on the part of the local authorities to pry into their affairs. It was difficult to convince them that those papers were anything but a ruse to catch the unwary.

West Ham Emigrants to Australia


Women Workers -2

Working in a jam-making factory was hard work, read the account of one woman's experience, who also lost her job because of her suffragette activities.

Newham Notables

Many notable people lived in Newham, here is an ouline of twenty of them.

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