An Irish-Cockney Village in the East End

Ellen Delay’s attendance medal, 1900. B.14-1995

This medal was awarded to Ellen Delay, a pupil at St Patrick’s School, Wapping in 1900. It’s a bit different from the medals awarded by the School Board for London I wrote about here. It has no portrait of the Queen, and the metal is a bit lighter. The name of the student is engraved, but so is the year, which suggests they weren’t minted annually. And also, significantly, the name of the school is included.

The Museum has another medal, awarded two years later to Ellen’s brother Denis, also ‘For Regular Attendance’.

St. Patrick’s was a Catholic school, and therefore not controlled by the School Board.[1] The narrow five-storey school was built in 1875 next to the new St. Patrick’s church, a Classical basilica built in 1871, marking a new Catholic parish in Wapping.

Ellen and her brother Denis were part of a tight-knit community of Irish Catholics which had grown next to the river, in between the docks and warehouses. Their grandparents, Dennis and Mary Delay, had moved to London from Cork in the 1840s and had six children; four girls went into domestic service, and the two sons, Cornelius and John, worked as general labourers. In 1876 Cornelius married Norah, and they in turn had six children. Denis (born 1891) and Ellen (born Mary Ellen in 1895) were the two youngest.

Official sources don’t record people’s lived experience, but they can be used to create a context to think more about childhood in the past. A fascinating starting point is Charles Booth’s poverty maps and notebooks. At the end of the nineteenth century, Booth walked almost every street in the city, normally accompanied by a local policeman, and recorded his observations. He then classified and colour-coded each street according to the economic state of its inhabitants.

Booth’s Poverty Map, from

The 1899 version of the map shows the southern reaches of Wapping as a dense mixture of light blue (poor) and dark blue (very poor) streets. St. Patrick’s church was built on the site of the old workhouse, right under the ‘J’ of St. John. This was a densely populated, cosmopolitan area. The census records lodgers from Spain, Portugal and even the Philippines. Occupations include shipwright, dockworker, merchant sailor, and plenty of licensed victuallers (a.k.a. pub landlords).

While the children grew up, the Delay family shared a series of houses, often with two other families. One house was in Red Lion Street, which runs straight past the church to the river. Ellen and Denis’s daily experience wouldn’t have been too different from the scene witnessed by journalists from The Builder magazine thirty years earlier:

On the river-side [of the High Street] are the large shipping wharfs, with their Babel of noise, their din of cranks, cranes, and hydraulic lifts. The long street is lined with hosts of jabbering carmen, grumbling cabbies, touting porters, and provoked policemen… This singular spot of London East is an artificial island, and, comprised within its space, it exhibits the two extremes of great commercial wealth and importance, and the lowest phases of human suffering and indigence.[2]

Among these conflicting forces of wealth and poverty the two youngest Delay children made it to school often enough to receive a medal each. Ellen was only five when she got hers.

But the stories of the two Delay children end differently. Ellen died when she was ten, perhaps a victim of the smallpox that surged through the overcrowded streets of the East End, or a tragic accident in the docks. After Ellen’s death, Denis and his mother moved in with his married eldest sister, Catherine. He worked in the wharfs, and got married in 1924 to Margaret Lea. In 1927 they had a son, and named him Denis too.

This youngest Denis Delay followed his father and aunt to St. Patrick’s School, attending until he was ten. In the thirties, Wapping was subject to the ‘slum clearance’ that saw the concentrated back-to-back housing replaced with blocks of flats. Throughout this period of change, Reverend Reardon presided over the congregation of St. Patrick’s. He oversaw young Denis’s First Communion in the church that had hosted three generations of the Delay family.

At the start of the Second World War, children from St. Patrick’s were evacuated to St. Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Guildford, and the bombs that fell in their absence created some of the open spaces used as parks in Wapping today. The Museum has the letter that was sent to parents.

Evacuation Notice, 1939. B.19-1995

Denis described Wapping in the 1930s in similar terms to observers at the turn of the century, and even in the 1870s: ‘Wapping was an island, then, surrounded by the river and dock water. Really like a village, properly-so-called, with all the advantages and disadvantages of a village – an Irish Cockney village’.

[1] The Board Schools established by the Education Act of 1870 were supposed to avoid ‘the religion question’. The act stated: ‘No religious catechism or religious formulary which is distinctive of any particular denomination shall be taught in the school.’ Section 14, Education Act 1870

[2] ‘Homes in the East of London: A visit to Wapping “island”.’ The Builder, 7 January 1871. Full article available at

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98 thoughts on “An Irish-Cockney Village in the East End

  1. […] medal was won – or earned – by Lionel Lehman in 1903. It is not a School Board medal, but, like Denis Delay’s medal, comes from a religious institution, the Westminster Jews Free […]

  2. Sullivan says:

    I was in Guildford at St Josephs school during the war with the children from St Patricks the
    headmaster was Mr Ridge also two teachers Miss Hanley and miss Casey , is there anybody
    on line who may remember one of the children who died at the time pupils and teachers
    attended the furneral at this time? if so perhaps they would reply to this note.I was born and bred in “Wapping” I left school in 1951 and moved to Norfolk after my national service , I
    had greats times growing up , and often think of “Wapping” as it was then , I suppose it has
    changed quite a bit since I left , I would like anbody to reply to make contact.

    • Patricia Petty says:

      While looking up some history of Wapping for my Mother recently, I came across your message and thought that it would interest her as she was also born and bred in Wapping and went to St. Patrick’s school although she actually left in 1950. However, she was not evacuated to Guildford with the other children during the war and so does not remember a child who died during that time? She has very fond memories of her days there and absolutely remembers Miss Hanley and Miss Casey! (By coincidence, I also went to St. Patrick’s as a small child during the early sixties and both teachers were still there, though I really do not remember either of them myself as we moved away when I was 7 years old).
      My Mum and her family lived in Matilda House which was on St. Katherine’s Way and those flats are still there to this day although the area does not resemble much of what my mum remembers when growing up there. When I told her of your message she was very pleased to know that someone still has fond memories of Wapping just like she has!
      Her name is Maureen and maiden name was McGrath, she came from quite a big
      family and some of her sisters names were Kathleen, Nellie and Marie, one of her brothers was called Dinny ,and her youngest brother Timmy was drowned in the Thames aged only 4 years.
      Not sure if any of this information means anything to you but a reply would be nice if it does.
      Kind regards,

      Pat Petty
      ps Mum says that she heard that Miss Casey was killed in a road accident quite a few years ago.

      • sheila winn says:

        pat was your mum related to Kathleen hinton & Josie o’brian, aunt & niece. who were both in my class in st patricks in the 50s, my name is Sheila sapwell & I grew up in wapping, I bet she remembers the duggans, I can recall that a little boy was drowned near the swing bridge on pier head.

      • Rosa Turner says:

        Hello Pat, my name is Rosa Turner (maiden name Blunden), I went to Tower Hill School, and grew up from the age of five in Matilda House. I have a brother and two sisters and we used to walk to the Tower of London which did not have an entrance fee in the 1950s, and we used to play on the beach. My husband did not believe there was a beach until a friend confirmed this.

        I have been trying to find the history of Matilda House, not much luck, not very good on laptop, when I came across your message and felt I just hadto reply. We also used to walk to Shadwell park via wapping which had an area that we used to call the bomb site, not sure if it had been bombed or was just derelict, but it was our playground.

        I had a tour of Wapping a few years ago, unrecognizable.

      • Matthew Upton says:

        My auntie Eileen Pearson remembers Maureen McGrath well from living in Matilda House.

      • Helen says:

        I am a great grandaughter of Tim and Louise Duggan. I know some of my relatives lived in Matilda House and possibly my mum and her family (the Allans) did too. My mum, her brother and my nan and grandad moved to Lowder House when it was built, where my grandparents saw out their days. My nan and her sister ran Raine’s cafe in Wapping lane. My mum and uncle went to St Patricks and I remember my mum talking about Miss Casey. Not sure when my mum left school but probably in the early 1950s. She always admitted to not being the brightest spark, largely because she talked too much. She was very good at netball and sewing. One of her best friends was Marie Squib. The second last of my family Mary Duggan is being laid to rest on Wednesday at St Patrick’s. She stayed in Wapping all her life.

    • colleen wright says:

      My family came from wapping originally from Ireland. I don’t know about the Guildford school. My 3xtimes Gt grandfather was Cornelius Sullivan from Cork.married Catherine Leary in St Mary and St Michaels church in 1858.

    • Jan says:

      Sullivan I remember my dad Timothy Callaghan talking about mr ridge. Not very nice words I afraid to say. Also my mum Catherine Hurley known as kit, mentioned miss casey and the nuns can’t remember the headmistress.

  3. Patricia Petty says:

    Hello Sheila, it was lovely to receive your message!
    I spoke to my mum and she says that she was very good friends with a lady called ‘Pat O’Brien’ who she believes might be the older sister of Josie O’Brien? My mum actually left St.Patricks in 1950 but was wondering if you might remember her sister Marie McGrath who was a couple of years younger than her? Did you live in or near Matilda House in Wapping? My mum’s young brother Timmy was drowned in the Thames in 1946, but that was in the part of the river near the British and Wharf opposite Matilda House.
    She most certainly remembers the Duggans though, which she tells me was a very large family! She can’t recall your name or the name of Kathleen Hinton? She asks if you would remember one of the Nuns at St.Patricks, Sister Veronica, who she says was the one who stopped her being May Queen one year! Something my Mum has never forgotten!!
    Anyway, would be nice to hear any of your memories so that I can pass them on to my Mum,
    Bye for now,

    • Helen says:

      I have just put another post on this site but I am related to the Duggans. My grandmother was ‘Maggie’ Duggan who then became Maggie Allan. My mum was Kathleen who went to St Patricks. I am sure she was friends with Josie O’Brien as well as Marie Squib. I remember my grandmother talking about the person drowned in the Thames. My great grandmother Louise Duggan had 9 children although one died just after being born as far as I can remember being told. Just one of my great aunts is alive and one passed away just last week. Her funeral is this week at St Patricks.

  4. sarah says:

    Hello, just want to ask. Anyone remember the Jennings family? thats my family also born and bred in Wapping, and went to St Patricks.

    • Lucy says:

      Hello Sarah,

      I’ve only just found this page and saw your reply. I’m researching the Jennings family who lived in Matilda House. I really hope you see this and we can find out if we’re talking about the same people.


      • Sarahjane Jennings says:

        My Jennings family I believe at one time lived in Red Lion street. Then doughty court. My grandad lived in shackleton house after my nan died. I am a jennings and we lived in whitethorn house for years. It is possible some of my jenno family lived in or near matilda as it was and still is in wapping

  5. Jan says:

    My nan was Nell. Callaghan formerly McGrath. She lived at whitethorn house. And my other nan lived across the road at either Malaya house or Penang house near the dolls house as it was called then. Her name was Anna Allen. Formerly Hurley. All the family went to st Patrick’s school and there was a dinny and a timmy in the families. My uncle was dinny so it rang a bell when I saw that name on the blog. Thanks .

  6. Jan says:

    I forgot to say we were all born in wapping.

    • kathy says:

      The dolls house That brings back memories Next to Wainwright House if I remember correctly And nearly opposite the Jolly Sailor I went to St Patricks also We left in 1960 for Essex

  7. sarah says:

    i remember the dolls house aswell! I lived in Whitethorn Hse it was opposite the dolls hse. Wainright Hse was next to Malay Hse as I remember ..

    • Jan says:

      Sarah you say you lived in whitethorn house do you remember the Callaghan family?

      • Sarah Jennings says:

        Yes. I always got mixed up as a child with Gallaghers and Callaghers . The ones i remember in Whitethorn Hse lived on the ground floor in the corner nearset to Shakleton Hse

    • Lucy says:

      Sarahjane, I think we may have a family connection, as I’m sure I have Red Lion Street in my records. Do you think we might chat about this via email?

  8. Jan says:

    So glad to hear from people who lived in wapping , my nan was Nell Callaghan who lived at whitethorn house , her maiden name was McGrath. My father Timothy Callaghan was her son. They all went to st Patrick’s .my mother also lived in wapping and her name was kitty hurley. They all attended st Patrick’s.

    • sarah says:

      Dear Jan. As I remember, I hope I have it right. Your family lived on the ground floor at the end. The callaghers as I remember lived there. The end of our block which would be nearest to Shackleton House. That end of Whitethorn.

  9. rosemary says:

    I was interested to read your posts about St Patrick.s School, Wapping. I visited the area again after a visit to the Tower to see the Poppies.
    I taught the Nursery class at the infants in 1970 s when Sister Theresa was Head and Miss Hanley was infants. Sad to say there is no Catholic school there now.
    Spoke to a local publican who told me there were only 6 pupils there when it closed.
    I was still impressed with the friendliness of the local people willing to help with info.
    It is now a centre for Jesuit homeless.

  10. My husband is Ted (Edward) Patmore. His family moved into Riverside Mansions shortly after they were built. They then moved across to Wine Close in 1979. Ted’s mum Bet, worked as school secretary at St. Patrick’s Junior School from the 1960’s until retirement in 1988. Sadly Bet passed away 2 weeks ago. Both Ted and his sister Ann attended St Patrick’s in the 1960’s. Unfortunately Ann also passed away some time before her mum. Ted has very fond memories of growing up in Wapping and we’d appreciate any stories that involved Bet as she went on a lot of the school trips and pilgrimages to Lourdes. Also stories of growing up in Wapping during this time.

    Thank You.

    • sarah says:

      Dear Johana. I went to St Pats in Mid 70s early 80s and Miss Patmore and Miss Nash together taught us to sew when we moved from Reardon St to Dundee Street (the bigger school) I used to see Miss Patmore in church and I still used to call her Miss even at my age. They were lovely people. They taught us all sorts of sitches. We made purses, things to puts your pj’s in and little stuffed toys. They taught us how to sew. Lovely people.xx

    • Linda Nash (formerly Aston) says:

      Dear johannah. My name is Linda Nash (formerly Linda Aston). Me and my family also lived in Riverside Mansions from when they were first built until we had to move out. My mum Betty Aston also worked in St Patrick’s infants where me and my brother Gary went to school too. Sadly my mum passed away shortly after your mum in law Bet. I have lots of happy memories of St Patrick’s. I went on a school trip to Lourdes with Bet Patmore, Nell Nash and Sister Mary. A great experience even though I wasn’t well but Bet and Nell looked after me very well. Riverside Mansions was a very close community so we all knew everyone and all the kids would play out in the big squares. Me and my brother often go down to Wapping for a wander and meet up with Ian Nash.

    • Elaine says:

      What year were Ted and Ann born?
      I was born in 1957 and attended St Patrick’s.
      My maiden name is Hannen. I lived in Malay House, Prusome Street.
      My father was the youngest of 15 and they all lived in Monza Street.

    • joan may says:

      My name s Joan may, I knew ann patmore, my brother, Kenny was drowned in wappung. I was 12 at the time. I went to St Patricks my mum was formerly married to eddie Chusonis ‘s brother but divorced. Everyone called him,eddie duggan as he was married to Peggy Duggan. . Went to bishop challenor for secondary education.

      • Lucy says:

        Sarahjane, I think we may have a family connection, as I’m sure I have Red Lion Street in my records. Do you think we might chat about this via email?

  11. Ash Dempsey says:

    did anyone know the Dempsey family? on the link at the bottom
    it mentions them as a large family in the area. I also know that us Dempseys are related to the Delay family through a connection of a James Delay who married a Mary Ann Kepple. I am related to the families Delay’s, Dempseys, Colliers, Power, Ratcliff, Burkert, Denham, and Arnold all from Wapping and surrounding areas. The Dempsey men were all Dockers. if anyone knows anything I would love to be in touch!?

    • Joanna (or Johannah) Dempsey was my great grandmother. She married Lawrence Hunt on 21 Sep 1884. Her father was Daniel and her family were from Bethnal Green. I have been having difficulties tracing the family back further. There is an Enough Dempsey, but the dates don’t appear to tie in. Have you come across Joanna in your researches?

  12. Tim Brett says:

    My Mum, Annie Bishop was born in Clegg Street in 1928 and went to St. Patrick’s as well. The family moved from Clegg Street into Matilda House when it was first opened. Her father was Thomas Bishop born in Pennington Street and her mother was Anne Martha Butterley who was born in Prusom Street. Actually my father was a Puseyite from St. Peter’s! Peter Brett was born in Raines Mansions in 1926. Sadly my father passed way a few years ago but my mother is still going strong and living in Kelvedon in Essex. Just across the street from her lives her cousin Pat Donovan and next door to her lives Renee Smith (not sure of her maiden name). Her husband was Denis Smith. All of them from Wapping. Renee Smith’s parents and sister were killed by a V2 rocket in the war and she was brought up by her grandmother.
    Lots more stories to tell and an interesting family history website.

    • Matt UPton says:

      Annie BIshop brother Bill was my Nans partner BRidget PEarson and they were together until he died. My mum remembers your mum and dad. Her name is Sheila Pearson and she now lives in Sydney. She remembers Pat as well. She has fond memories of wapping.

      • Tim Brett says:

        Hi Matt. Happy New Year! My Mum is in hospital right now as she broke her hip just before Christmas. I haven’t managed to speak to her personally as I live in Chiang Mai and the hospital ward doesn’t have a mobile phone. My brother will be visiting her soon and I’ll ask him to ask her about your Nan. I’m sure they used to live just around the corner from my Nan in Matilda House and I can remember visiting them when I was a kid.

      • Tim Brett says:

        Hi Matt, Just spoken to Mum and she does remembers “Bridgie Barnet”. It seems that all the women were always referred to by their maiden names. My Mum was Annie Bishop and then Aunt Pat was Pat Donovan etc. She remembers that Uncle Billy and Bridgie Barnet used to live in Matilda House but then moved to Cable Street in Stepney when everyone was turfed out of Matilda & Stephen House.

  13. Jan says:

    Does anybody remember the Callaghan family who were lighterman”, lived at whitethorn house.

  14. jimmy callagher says:

    My name is james (jimmy) callagher. I lived in stephen house and was born in 1934. My mother was nell and my father was cornelious. I had six sisters and three brothers. My dad worked in the dock. My cousins were the mcgrath family. My mothers maiden name was kingston. I attended st patricks and tower hill school.

    • Patricia Petty says:

      Hello Jimmy
      My name is Pat and I am the daughter of Maureen McGrath who I believe was your cousin? Her mother (my Nan) was Alice McGrath (was Kingston) and my granddad was Tim McGrath. Mum’s brothers and sisters were, Alice, Lily, Georgie, Kathleen, Nellie, Dinny, Marie and the youngest was Timmy. They all lived in Matilda House in Wapping. Sadly, my mum passed away in June last year and out of all of them the only one still here is Nellie who I think is now about 84. Uncle Peter (Adlem) is also still going strong and we celebrated his 80th birthday in January last year, sadly without Auntie Marie who passed away a few years before.
      Mum often spoke about ‘the Callagher’s’, and I think some of the names she mentioned were, Aunt Nell, Uncle Con, you Jimmy, Eileen, Peggy, Patty, Sheila, Paddy.
      My mum and dad (Tommy Boon) moved to Norfolk over 20 years ago and myself and my two sisters followed them not long after! My brother still lives near London, but he is more near Croydon way.
      I am so glad to have read your note on here, I often look out for names that I think my mum might have mentioned over the years. A lot of them I wouldn’t know but your name stood out straight away and it’s funny to think that we are in fact also related even though we don’t know one another! I think i did meet Paddy many years ago at uncle Din’s sons wedding (Martin McGrath) but I don’t remember meeting you there?
      Anyway, I hope this has helped in some way and I shall certainly let uncle Peter know that I have written to you, he would be glad to know I’m sure.
      I do hope you and your family are all well and if there is anything else I can help you with, please contact me – it would be nice to speak to you again.
      With love,
      Pat (Petty) xx

      • Jimmy says:

        Hello Patricia, yes I am your cousin. Sorry to hear of your loss. My sisters Mary, Patty & Peggy and my brother Harry are deceased. Paddy, Eileen, Sheila and Kathleen are still going strong. I am retired now living in Essex with Sheila near by. Paddy lives in Kent, Kathleen in Essex and Eileen still in Wapping. It was very nice to hear about all of you, thank you for letting me know.

  15. Jan says:

    Jimmy, my nans maiden name was nell McGrath. (Ellen) she married ted Callaghan. I hope you reply. They lived in whitethorn house. My mother was kit Callaghan she went to saint patricks.

    • Jimmy says:

      Hello Jan, I do remember the Callaghans very well.They were Lightermen related to my cousins the McGraths. I was very close to Dinny McGrath, we were best friends and did everything together. I have especially fond memories of going hop picking. Thank you for reminding me of my time in Wapping.

  16. Jan says:

    Pat. Know body seems to answere my questions on here or they are not seeing them, my grandparents were the Callaghan, I also had a uncle dinny Callaghan . The callaghans lived at whitethorn house, my grandmothers maiden name was McGrath. Any info would be so appreciated. Thanks. X

    • Patricia Petty says:

      Hello Jan, hope you see this reply…. I’m wondering if your nan and my grandad were possibly related? His name was Timothy McGrath and I’m think he had a sister called Ellen? He married my nan whose maiden name was Kingston (Alice) and they lived in Matilda House in Wapping., he worked on the docks. I they must be related in some way as I often heard them talk of the ‘Callaghan’s’ when I was a little girl? I’ll try to find out a bit more if I can and let you know!
      Take care,
      Pat x

      • Jan says:

        Thanks pat for replying, yes I think they were related as nanny Ellen Callaghan , who they called nel . I remember my dad (Timothy ) Callaghan saying he used to stay in dagenham with his aunt who was named kate reidy.. So she mist have been Kathleen McGrath. My nan dies when she was 63 . My grandad lived at riverside mansions with my aunt rose when she died . They were all lighterman . My mothers name was Hurley. Her mum(my grandmother) lived at Malaya house or Penang house near the dolls house . She was married to George Allen.I don’t know much about the mcgraths, as I only see my nan a couple of times when they lived in whitethorn house.all the men worked on the river . What made me think we were related was the name dinny as it seems it was passed down . Please keep in touch thanks x

  17. Jan says:

    Hello. Jimmy, so the callaghans were your cousins ,do your remember my nan nell McGrath and my grandad ted Callaghan who my dad called joe, my dad was timmy Callaghan I also had a uncle dinny Callaghan .did the McGraths come from Ireland originally. Thanks

    • jimmy callagher says:

      Yes Jan I do remember the callaghans but the callaghers were not related to them. We were related to the mcgraths through marriage. My aunt maŕried a mcgrath. The mcgraths did come from ireland like many others in wapping. They had been in wapping for many generations working in the london docks.

  18. Jan says:

    My father timmy Callaghan mentioned a kate reidy who lived in dagenham , I think it was nell Callaghan (my nans) sister. The Callaghan lived in whitethorn house , and my other nan Anna Allen formerly Hurley lived opposite , the callaghans when young lived in the dolls house, my mother was kitty Callaghan nee Hurley, she went to st patricks and remembers there was a strict nun there and miss casey. My father used to tell me about mr ridge with his cane, they seemed to have so many stories.

  19. pat says:

    i live in wapping in the 1950 and i when to st. patrick school my family name was massett do you rembember the massett my dad was a docker

  20. Jan says:

    Pat petty. I think your grandad might have been related to nell Callaghan (Ellen McGrath) as my father (Ellen’s) son was also timmy Callaghan my grandad was named Edward Callaghan , but my dad called him joe. Nanny was called nell , any information would be appreciated thanks pat. Janice.

    • Patrick Andrews says:


      My name is Patrick Andrews. My mothers maiden name was Kathleen Palmer. My mother is 92 this year and still lives in Stepney.

      Both my mother and,I went to St Patricks Infants and both were fought by Miss Handley which is amazing.

      My father and both my grandfathers worked in the Docks. I did too in the 1960s. I went to University later and became a solicitor and am now a judge.

      I now live in the North East of England.

      I have great memories of my early childhood in Wapping and such events as the Wapping Carnival, the religious processions in which I took part.
      Wapping lime London generally has changed drastically with the times but a lot of that I grew up with still remains.

  21. Simon Marum says:

    I came across this website after doing a bit of googling about Wapping. I used to teach in St. Patrick’s School between 1990 and 1994. I love the title to this article because I always remember Wapping as a Cockney Irish paradise.

    The families I met were lovely and made me feel so welcome. The children I taught were great. I forget many of their names as I lose my memory as I get older, but all their faces are etched in my memory. I loved the fact that the community was so close-knit and every one of the kids I taught had so many cousins at St. Pat’s!!!

    To this day I have nothing but the fondest memories of a lovely school and the greatest village in all London. I loved my time down in Wapping and think about it often. I moved to Barcelona in 1994 but a part of my heart remained there!

  22. Andy says:

    I remember Riverside Mansions – a friend of mine lived in a flat there when she was a student in Blackfriars. I wasn’t aware of its name then – I only learnt this recently. This was about 1983/84. Most of the flats were used by students then.
    Some of you may find the following link useful. This website too, has people from the Wapping area sharing names and memories;

    I believe that a party was held at Riverside Mansions in 2008 to celebrate 80 years since they were first built. Perhaps they’ll have another in 2018?


  23. Lee says:

    I remember the Massets they were friends with Maggie and Boy Whitehorns boys who were boxers

  24. Jan says:

    Pat petty. Thanks for your reply, I think your grandad and my nan, Ellen McGrath were brother and sister. You say your grandad was Timothy McGrath. . My father was Timothy Callaghan his parents were Ellen McGrath (Callaghan ) and ted Callaghan. Amy information would be lovely on the mcgraths Jan x

    • Janet says:

      My name was Janet Dobson,lived at 32 milk yard Parents were Charlie who was a docker & Mum Letty.My aunt Lill uncle John Cousin David & Keith Johnstone lived at No 1 they had a cafe round the corner for the Dockers.I went to St. Peter’s School.Think when I was four in 1949 then we left in 1953 moved to essex.

  25. Janet says:

    My father was a docker Charlie Dobson & mother Letty.I Janet went to St.Peters school.lived at 32 milk yard in Riverside.left when I was seven in cousin David Johnston lived at no 1 his mum & dad had the cafe.

    • Suzie Mullis says:

      Hello all. Just stumbled across this page while showing my sons where my nan and grandad used to live in Matilda House. Just wondered if anyone remembers them – Nell and Dinny Murphy? They had three sons Terry, Dennis and Bryan and a daughter Kathleen, my mum. The names on here all sound so familiar it would be nice to hear some memories of my family if anyone has any. Suzie

  26. Suzie Mullis says:

    Hello all
    Stumbled across this board whilst showing my sons where my nan and grandad used to live in Matilda House. Does anyone remember Nell and Dinny Murphy? They had three sons Terry Dennis and Bryan and Kathleen, my mum. Be good to hear from anyone that remembers them. Suziex

    • sheila sapwell winn says:

      hi Susie. my name is Sheila winn was sapwell I lived in prusom st wapping & went to st pats dennis murphy was in my class we are now 70. there was a couple of murphy familys in matilda one lot lost their mum at a young age, my husbands family lived in stephens name of winn.

      • nicola vanlint-baker says:

        Hello Shelia, my Nan was a Murphy and was brought up in Wapping (Eliza / Elizabeth born 1915). Have found it impossible to research her ancestry over the past 10 years. Her Father was James Murphy 1880 married to Martha Ann Vanlint 1881-1936. I know it’s a long shot but would you know of any way I can follow this side of my family, please?!
        Many thanks

      • Suzie Mullis says:

        Hi Sheila. A lot of the Murphy’s in Matilda and Stephen house were related. It was my grandad (Dinny Murphy)’s brother whose wife died too young leaving the six kids with my uncle Dickie. My nan and grandad stayed in Stepney all their lives but as is the way with most things the rest of the family is scattered around the Home Counties.

    • Helen says:

      Suzie, does your know Kathleen & Peter Allan?

      • Suzanne Mullis says:

        Hi Helen. The name is so familiar I’ve definately heard it mentioned within the family – were they from Matilda House too?

  27. Jan says:

    Hi Janet do you remember the Morgan family who lived at riverside. Christine was my cousin they had a sweet shop named fieldings .i was born 1951 at colemans close prusom street .wapping . We moved to Essex about 1954 .


  28. Yvonne Pees says:

    Hello all,
    I went to St Patricks School and left in 1952 to go to Tower Hill School, my mum also went to St Patricks as did her brothers and sister. I remember Miss Casey and Mr Ridge but was not evacuated as too young. My mums young brother was drowned on the foreshore aged 6 in 1933. My mums name was Bruna Mentessi and lived with my grandparents in a cafe in Wapping High St which was bombed out, my grandfather was interned as an Italian national and mums brother Dennis was born in a rest shelter in 1939 before the family moved to The Highway. Does anyone remember The Mentessi’s cafe? Mums fiancee was killed in the Blitz in September 1941 in Wapping, his name was Ronnie Ayres. I was born in 1942.

    • Helen says:

      You may have been at school at the same time as my mum Kathleen Allan? her teacher was Miss Casey. My nan and great aunt ran Raine’s Cafe in Wapping Lane during the 1960s and 1970s. At that time I am sure it was the only cafe in Wapping as it was very, very busy with dock workers and other trades.

      • Yvonne Pees says:

        I am sorry I don’t remember Kathleen Allan. My grandparents cafe was at No. 7 Wapping High Street and was bombed out in 1941 during the blitz. My grandfather was interned and the family moved into a cafe at 71 The Highway opposite Gooches Wharf and London Docks. I was born in 1942 my maiden name was Yvonne Middleton I left St Patricks in 1950 to go to Tower Hill School. So this would be 10 years earlier than the 60’s and 70s you mentioned at which time I was married.

      • Helen says:

        Hello Yvonne, yes my mum was born in 1937 so she was a few years ahead of you at school. My uncle Peter would have been a couple of years behind you. My second cousins were Jean Hooper, Cheryl & Jacqueline (I can’t remember their single names!) and Alan, Mary & Bernard Myers. A school teacher of mine was also at school with my uncle, her name was Christine Howse (she ended up teaching Spanish in a school in Highgate and was deputy head at one point).

    • edward m mentessi says:

      yvonne,yes i well remember the highway.flo,s son teddy.

      • Yvonne Pees says:

        Hello Teddy. My dear cousin! How are you? I was your bridesmaid too, and have a photo! Aunt Flo made all my procession dresses, and I loved staying with you all. I have some photos of my grandparents, Massimo and Emma,and your mum! I don’t have your email/phone details! Can you get my email from here? Don’t really want to publish it publicly, Had a great day visiting Wapping last year, would be lovely to catch up!

  29. Sheila waldock says:

    Hello all. Does anyone have any memories of the Ryan’s who lived in wapping, tench street and Riverside Mansions.

  30. Laurence Bazen says:

    I lived in matilda house with my mum and Nan,Bridget Pearson in the 50s.Just out of curiosity could anyone tell me when matilda and Stephen house were built.

  31. Roe Beckett was fuller says:

    Really made me smile reading all these stories about my beloved Wapping I am a Fuller does any one rember my lovely aunt norah she was very much in all thing to do with Wapping .

  32. Linda Vassallo says:

    Hello Roe I had a great aunt called Norah Fuller. Could she be connected to the Coughlins and the Denny’s. My grandfather was John Denny.

  33. Barry mccarthy says:

    My name is Barry McCarthy I lived in jubilee buildings Went to st Patrick’s born in 1947 Lived in jubilee buildings from 1947 to 1966

  34. Ian Cannon says:

    I know that my Dad, Timmy Cannon, went to St. Patrick’s he was the youngest of ten children. They lived in Wapping, though I am unsure if they all went to St. Patrick’s school, they definitely did not go to Guildford as my Nan wanted them all to go if they were unlucky enough to be hit by a bomb. They spent the war there, before , during and after the Blitz with my elder uncles serving in the Second World War.

  35. Daniel Dobbs says:

    I am looking for a young lady who’s maiden name was Pat Green she lived in riverside mansions.Pat worked in the west end of london with my mum who’s maiden name was Jean Young.I think they both worked together in tailoring for large department store John Lewis or Selfridiges in Oxford Street.jean Young now lives in Hornchurch not far from her son and family.Jean is 88 years old this September and would dearly love to track down her old friend Pat.If anyone could help please email me.

  36. terence o'connor says:

    Hello all, my Nan lived in Matilda house, her name was Mary Sullivan, her two daughters were called kitty and Peggy, Peggy married brian masset, and then married Vicky Connors, who was related, by marriage, to the hurleys.
    please let me know if you have any memories.
    terry connors

  37. Lesley Dunlop says:

    My mother’s family, the Hunts, lived at 13 Barnes Street, Stepney, in the pre-WWII period until the mid-’50s. My grandfather, Daniel Patrick Hunt, who died before I was born, helped a local Catholic charity care for bombed out families at the height of the war. I understand that the charity operated from a nearly school. Apart from his job as attendant at the local council offices, he sold insurance to local Catholic families. Does anyone know anything about the work with bombed-out families with which my grandfather might have been involved? Thanks

  38. James Bell says:

    My name is Jim Bell and I have just come across this site. I, too, lived in Matilda House from 1945 until about 1962. It was nice to come across this and find so many names I knew. I lived with my Nan, Grandad and Mum and my Uncle Bill who had a boot menders shop in Hell Street, by the side of Jubilee Buildings. I remember hanging around with Josie O’Brien, Doreen & Cathleen Hinton, George Medson(?) and Gary Tarrant. It was a great place to live and grow up.
    I now live in the West Country, but have very fond memories of those times.

  39. David Nicholls says:

    lI am Carmen Nicholls { Cassar } ,I lived a 36Jubilee buildings And I do remember you James Bell and Barry McArthy.and many of the other people that you mentioned. Barry was good friends with my brother Mike Cassar.,and younger brother Dennis. I went to St Patricks in Wapping.I grew up knowing the Duggans family.very well. I also remember being chased by you james with a firework
    .t ^

  40. Louise McKie says:

    My mother was Kathleen McCarthy, born in 1929 in Penang St and then lived in Hilliard House, Prusom St. Her father, Daniel McCarthy worked in the docks and was quite political pushing for workers rights and even had the nickname of the Dockers KC. Does anyone remember them?

  41. David Nicholls says:

    i am carmen nicholls (cassar) i lived at 36 jubilee buildings.and next door to us lived nellie and ted mcarthy. They had four children,John,Claire,Terry and Keith

  42. Jan says:

    Terence o.connor. My mother was kitty Hurley . Married Timmy Callaghan . All went to st pats. Big families. All born in wapping. Jan

    • terence o'connor says:

      Jan, as far as I can find out, there was Maggie, Maureen Pattie and Eileen (Lana)… My dad’s family came from Stepney and my grandad had a pub in Greenwich (the crown,Trafalgar road)

    • Marie Williams says:

      My mum’s family lived in Matilda House throughout the war, up until 1970’s. My mum and her siblings all went to St. Patrick’s. My grandparents were Alice (Nanny Dot’s) and Tim McGrath, my mum was Marie. I recognise some of the names on here, I loved hearing all the stories my family used to tell us.

    • terence edward o'connor says:

      Hello jan, i don’t know too much about the Hurley family, my dad’s 1st wife, Lana(eileen) Hurley died quite young, i know she had 2 or 3 sisters, and i have a half sister called Mari. Other than that i can’t fill in any blanks for you.

  43. Jan says:

    Marie Williams. My grandmother was Ellen McGrath her nickname was nell , they lived in the dolls,house now Ann Boylean house my Nan married ted Callaghan , Tim McGrath rings a bell as my fathers name was Tim,

  44. Christine Whiteland says:

    My name is Chris Whiteland (Vorley) and lived in Jackman House. Went to St Pats, Sheila Sapwell was in my class. My mum was Mary Makewell and .I dad’s name was Owen Vorley he lived there all his life. l have a brother John and sister Barbara but she was a baby when We left Wapping. I had an aunt Emmy and I did Albert who lived Riverside Mans. Cousin’s Timmy, Kenny and Diane. We moved to Abbey Wood in 1957. Anyone remember our family.

  45. terence edward o'connor says:

    margaret, what was your maiden name please ?

  46. Alan Rigg says:

    Hi My name ts Alan Rigg Born in the London Hospital and spent the first 4 years living in Vancouver House first with Nan & Grand dad,Who were Charlie & Vina Bryant he was a foreman in the docks,in our own flat next door. My Nan had cousins of living in Matilda House,They were Bert &Sarah Eadon , formerly Seabrook and two to my,Hilda &Grace My Dads Aunt Flo (S wain) also lived in Matilda Apparently she could be “difficult. She was also half sister to my maternal Grand Mary Louise Driscoll who in turn had Three sisters,, Bridget
    Margaret and Elizabeth. All four went to St Patricks School .

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