For last week’s jaunt out, London Shoes travelled to the Whitechapel/Mile End district deep in the heart of London’s east-end.
It’s an area of London that I know well and have very fond memories of, having worked at the Barclays Bank-Whitechapel branch for a couple of years in the late 1980’s – a branch with a great social life.
Anyway – the purpose of my Whitechapel/Mile End visit was to track down a relatively ‘newish’ landmark that I knew all about, but had never actually seen in real-life, namely the:-
“Mile End Mural”
The ‘Mile End Mural’, situated a few hundred yards to the east of Whitechapel tube station – is a brilliant piece of art-work that adorns the external side wall of no.33 Mile End Road – the offices of a long-established local Law firm “T V Edwards”, who have been operating in the area since 1929.
The law firm had originally applied for permission to display a large advertisement for the company on the buildings external wall – but their request was refused.
So – they approached sarf-London artist Mychael Barrett with a request to brighten up the wall with a sort of ‘local’ theme.
Barrett’s mural took him 6 weeks to complete, and it depicts the history of the surrounding area via paintings of local legendary characters that left their mark on the district over the past years, and also within the mural are some of the areas more historic/iconic buildings and other landmarks.
For the purposes of this blog I not only photographed the Mural as a whole, I also zoomed in with my camera to photo a number of the individual characters and buildings – which include the following:-
George Bernard Shaw – the author was an early member of the Fabian Society who regularly met on the Whitechapel Rd
William Booth – who started The Christian Mission and The Salvation Army on the Mile End Rd
Captain James Cook – who lived at 88 Mile End Rd when not at sea exploring
Vladimir Lenin – whom planned the Russian Revolution whilst living in Whitechapel
Joseph Merrick – also known as The Elephant Man – was first publicly exhibited in a shop window on the Whitechapel Rd across the street from the London Hospital, where he ended up residing and where his skeleton is held today.
London Dockers – based on a statue of Dockers that stands down the road in Victoria Dock
Bushra Nasir – who studied at the local Queen Mary University and became the first Muslim head teacher of a state school
Mahatma Gandhi – who stayed at nearby Kingsley Hall in 1931 when he came to London to discuss Indian independence
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – who visited the famous Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 2009 – the place where the Big Ben bell was made.
Samuel Pepys – frequented the Mile End Road, according to his famous diary. Also, his mother was the daughter of a Whitechapel butcher
Reggie & Ronnie Kray – the notorious London gangsters who regularly frequented ‘The Blind Beggar’ just a couple of hundred yards down the road from the Mural.
Gilbert & George – the legendary London designers and stylists, who live nearby in Spitalfields
Frederick Charrington – who turned his back on his family’s brewery to start a temperance mission. He is depicted in the mural, taking a dray horse out of service
Prince Monolulu – who was a gambling tipster who frequented Petticoat Lane and Mile End Market with his now legendary famous call “I gotta horse!”
David Hockney – the world famous artist – had his first exhibition at The Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1970
Isaac Rosenberg – who was a WW1 poet and a painter who was one of a group of artists known as The Whitechapel Boys
Mark Gertler – was another of The Whitechapel Boys group of artists
Anthony Edwards – is the senior partner of ‘T V Edwards’ whose office premises wall the Mile End Mural is painted on. As a young boy he would accompany his uncle on his rounds, carrying his briefcase – and this has been beautifully captured within the mural – a lovely little touch by the mural artist.
The following are just some of the historic local buildings captured within the mural:-
The Market Stalls – that line the Whitechapel end of the Mile End Rd
London’s Docks – depicted by a ship in-dock, at nearby London Docklands
The Gherkin – located at no.30 St Mary Axe in the City and a landmark that is clearly visible from the Mile End Road
The East London Mosque – another well-known London landmark, situated at the Aldgate end of the Mile End Road
Christ Church – a very famous old church situated in nearby Spitalfields, and designed by the renowned British architect ‘Nicholas Hawksmoor’.
The Royal London Hospital – a long standing main hospital for east-Londoners, which has dominated the Whitechapel area for a couple of 100 years, and is currently going through a massive redevelopment programme.
The Whitechapel Church Bell Foundry – the historically famous London bell-foundry notable casting the Big Ben bell.
Blooms – the world famous Jewish Kosher restaurant on the Whitechapel Road.
I never knew of the existence of this fantastic and interesting work of art, and I’m fairly sure that many others don’t either – which is a shame as in my opinion it would be an ideal ‘stopping-point’ for a London walking-tour.
So – that’s all about the Mile End-Mural – really worth taking a look at if you’re ever down Whitechapel way.
Having tracked down the Mile End Mural, and taken all the photos I needed, it was time to head-off back home.
However – with a slight difference to the blogs undertaken outside of the 2 lockdowns, and after an absence of approx. 9 months – I decided that the time was right to start partaking again in a ‘cheeky’ post-blog ‘beer’, as customary with all other London Shoes published blogs.
I didn’t really fancy having a ‘cheeky one’ up in the Whitechapel area at this present time, so instead, I stopped-off at the RAFA Club in Romford, a private members social club I belong to, and probably my 2nd home since my retirement almost 4 years ago now – where I tucked in to a plate of ‘substantial’, nicely washed down with a few ‘cheeky’ ones – very nice it was too.
This particular blog forms the initial posting of a new ‘Shoes’ on-going category that I’ve entitled “London-Street Art” – of which, there will hopefully be many more additional blogs on this theme, as we progress into 2021 and beyond.
Hope you enjoyed looking at the Mural.
See below the entire gallery of photos taken to accompany this blog