Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Limehouse Proper/Improper

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Limehouse Proper/Improper



    On May 26th and June 12th, 1897, George H. Duckworth, one of Charles Booth’s researchers, was conducted around Limehouse by a police inspector named Carter. Their initial interview, and the starting point for their walks, was at Limehouse Police Station in the West India Dock Road, ‘next to the Asiatic Home and just opposite Limehouse Causeway.’

    This extract is from Duckworth’s notebook, which is held in the LSE’s Booth collection under reference BOOTH/B/346 (pages 78 - 87).


    ‘Limehouse proper

    Speaking generally “Limehouse proper is the same as before.” Some streets are worse, but some bad streets are no more. Limehouse proper is the district bounded on the South by the Thames on the E. by Garford Street on the North by West India Dock Road and a little bit of the East I Dock Rd and on the west by the Limehouse cut. Official Limehouse extends a long way north of this but local Limehouse doesn’t; when people in the neighbourhood speak of going over onto that bit of it lying between the W. India Dock Road and the river.


    Limehouse improper

    Its character is & always has been the same “& probably always will be”. Limehouse Causeway is the dwelling place of Japs and Chinamen. Rich Street, Jamaica Place and Gill Street are a nest of brothels frequented by common seamen of every nationality. Up to two years ago 20 houses out of the 24 in Jamaica Place were brothels. The same was the case in Rich Street. Ten houses in each street have been prosecuted. Two years ago a Vigilance Committee was started in the district: with the professed of putting a stop to these places. They made it too warm for one or two who had to shut up shop in these streets. But don’t suppose they turned good. The only result was that they moved somewhere else and became a centre for contamination for other streets. Better to have them where you can put your finger on them than in places where you don’t know of their existence until they are firmly established. Sailors will have somewhere to go to: the charge is 5/- to 10/- a bed costs 6d or 1/-. The business is a profitable one. Then there is a lot of money to be made by robbing the sailors. A man very seldom comes out of one of these places with anything in the shape of money or valuables on his person. Sometimes they come and complain to the police but more generally they do not and it is very difficult to get evidence against the places. The Vigilance Committee recognised that the fruits of their work were fraught with more harm than good and so voluntarily dissolved. The greatest indirect ? to spending money this way has been the facility now given to sailors to send their money home. Before the sailors land ships are boarded and as the money is paid over much is sent straight away to friends, relations or the savings bank. Money can also be despatched through the foreign consols. Jamaica Street has now been changed to Beccles Street in the hope that a new name may help it in achieving a new character; but it has not done so: though Beccles Street is printed up at the corner of the street no one knows it by that name.

    Note that both Gill Street and Rich Street are marked too light in our map. Gill Street being purple and Rich Street pink. There must have been a decided worsement [sic] going on in these streets during the last ten years; to be partially explained perhaps by the fact that King John’s Court at the west end of Limehouse Causeway has been pulled down - this was a black spot in our map - and a row of black houses that backed on the canal down Chusan Street have also disappeared. The Contagious Diseases Acts have never been enforced in London as at Portsmouth - the consequence is that this district is a hotbed of venereal disease.’

  • #2
    A strong magnetic force must have developed in ‘Limehouse improper’ between (approx) 1890 to 1900. It drew people whose names* we might recognise from Pennington Street, Breezer’s Hill and Station Place to the West India Dock Road and the handful of streets immediately behind it.

    *Maywood, Morgenstern, Boekee, Woodhouse/McCarthy, Nod(d)ing, Brescher …

    Comment


    • #3
      The first map is of Duckworth’s entire ‘Limehouse proper’.

      The second focuses on the streets he mentions when he speaks of ‘Limehouse improper’
      Attached Files

      Comment


      • #4
        Apologies, the first map isn’t very clear.

        The second covers streets with connections to certain people we know:

        Gill Street/Gill Place: The Nod(d)ings.

        Rich Street: The Maywoods, Woodhouse/McCarthy, the Nod(d)ings.

        West India Dock Road: Morgenstern and Boekee - and John McCarthy of Dorset Street fame (infamy).

        Jamaica Place (later Beccles Street): Joseph Brescher. This was also where John Morgenstren (surely Morgenstern?) attacked three women in 1889.

        Comment


        • #5
          Interestingly, it was an Inspector Carter who had given evidence against Sophie Raby and others when they appeared at the Thames Magistrate’s Court on October 13th, 1896 charged with keeping disorderly houses at various addresses in Rich Street, Jamaica Place and the West India Dock Road. Carter described Sophie as a ‘notorious character’ and said her house at 1, Rich Street was one of the worst in the neighbourhood.

          As she had previous for the same offence, she was sentenced to 3 months hard labour. On receiving her sentence Sophie responded, ‘Thank you. God bless you.’

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post
            Interestingly, it was an Inspector Carter who had given evidence against Sophie Raby and others when they appeared at the Thames Magistrate’s Court on October 13th, 1896 charged with keeping disorderly houses at various addresses in Rich Street, Jamaica Place and the West India Dock Road. Carter described Sophie as a ‘notorious character’ and said her house at 1, Rich Street was one of the worst in the neighbourhood.

            As she had previous for the same offence, she was sentenced to 3 months hard labour. On receiving her sentence Sophie responded, ‘Thank you. God bless you.’

            It’s probably not a coincidence that the prosecutions occurred a few weeks after the inquest into the death of Henrietta Stanley who had been an ‘unfortunate’ at 1, Rich Street.

            I posted a press report concerning the Stanley inquest on the Station Place thread, but the Weekly Dispatch of 23rd August, 1896 provided more detail on the evidence given by Emily Bigg, Stanley’s cousin:

            .
            Attached Files

            Comment


            • #7
              For those who don’t know, ‘Rosie’ was Rose Nodding, Sophie Raby’s mother.



              Comment

              Working...
              X