Here, recorded in the latter years of the 20th century, are the authentic voices of those born in the 1890s (among others).
There’s is a world of moonlight flits, shoeless children and gin at a penny a pop.
That and the chanting, because on Sunday there would be Hebrew classes in the Brick Lane Talmud Torah.
They would be reciting in Hebrew and it would blend with the sound of the bells.’ The superintendent may not have minded, but then he had a hard job keeping track of comings and goings, especially with multiple subletting and the constant moonlight flits.
A little architectural history along the Bow Road, combined with poring over 18th century maps of the area, finally uncovered the whereabouts of the East End’s own porcelain works.
As long as Europeans had been journeying to the Far East, they had been entranced by the fine ceramic pots and plates they discovered there — a far cry from the crude wooden trencher from which a medieval Englishman would (if he was lucky) eat his dinner.
It’s ancient history to many readers, though for some of us only a generation or two away.
They may have only been in the queue — nonetheless the contrast is striking. Around Stepney and Whitechapel, most families were crammed into once-grand houses that by the early years of the 20th century had been subdivided and sublet many times.
‘You’d pack up when you owed a few bob rent, put your things on an old barrow for tuppence or threepence which you’d hired, and you’d move to somewhere else,’ recalled Stan Rose.
Or if you were unlucky, the superintendent and his team got to you first. and get the money back owing to them.’ Neighbours, sympathetic perhaps but keen on a bargain, would snap them up.
So desirable and sought-after did the material become that the English even began to call it ‘China’, after the country of origin, rather than using the French-Italian.
But as increasing quantities of chinaware came in to London, much of it on the ships of the East India Company, enterprising English merchants started wondering ‘How is it made? And so began a series of experiments around Europe — with varying degrees of success.