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Monthly Archives: May 2019

Remembering ‘Ivor’ Broadis

The recent death of footballer Ivor Broadis made the news in a number of ways, although always associated with the north he was actually born on the 18th December 1922 in the Isle of Dogs.

When I was reading his obituaries, it became obvious he was a remarkable character who lived most of life in the North of England but never lost his Cockney accent. Although he was known as ‘Ivor’, his name was actually Ivan Arthur Broadis and he developed his considerable football skills at Glengall Road School in the Isle of Dogs and St. Paul’s Way School, Coopers Company School, in Bow. He began to play amateur football for Finchley in north London, Northfleet in Kent and then Finchley again before joining Spurs.

He became known as ‘Ivor’ after an administrative error while playing as an amateur for Tottenham Hotspur during the war, he also played for Millwall on an amateur basis.

After the family home was bombed out in the Blitz, Broadis joined the RAF as a navigator and did his training in America near to New York. He became a Flight Lieutenant and completed 500 flying hours on Lancasters and Wellingtons. After the war he was posted to Crosby-on-Eden, near Carlisle, where he met his future wife.

The local team, Carlisle United asked Broadis if wanted to manage the team although he was only 23 and that was how he became the youngest player-manager in Football League history. What he did not know at the time was the club was having financial difficulties, but Broadis came up with a novel solution.

In 1949, Broadis became the only manager in Football League history to sell himself, joining Sunderland for £18,000. This large amount of money at the time saved Carlisle and Broadis joined a club who were nicknamed the ‘Bank of England Club’ because of their high spending. Carlisle appointed another manager by the name of Bill Shankly who would later become a legend at Liverpool.

Sunderland nearly won the First Division championship in 1950, but the talents of Broadis were noticed by England when he was picked for the match against Austria in 1951. His international career would bring 14 caps and eight goals and he became famous as the first man to score twice in a World Cup game for England in the 1954 World Cup.

Broadis was sold to Manchester City for a fee of £25,000, then moved to the north east with a move to Newcastle. Towards the end of his playing career he returned to Carlisle as player-coach before finally finishing his playing days with Queen of the South in Scotland.

When he finally finished his football career, he began another one with a career in journalism, reporting for the Carlisle Evening News and Star and the Observer for over 40 years. Broadis had a flair for the written word and was very popular amongst ex footballers and journalists in his long career in journalism.

Just before his death in April, Broadis had the distinction at the age of 96 years of being England’s oldest living player.

The Isle of Dogs and Poplar have produced a number of footballers and sports people, however few have had a career as remarkable as Ivor Broadis.

Secret Rivers at the Museum of London Docklands – 24 May to 27 October 2019

The Museum of London Docklands has many permanent displays but throughout the year puts on temporary exhibitions on particular themes. The latest exhibition is due to open on the 24th May and is called Secret Rivers and I managed to have a preview before it officially opens.

Whilst the River Thames is famous around the world and played a pivotal role in the development of London, little is known about the other waterways that flowed in the capital. The exhibition explores a number of these rivers and streams and finds out why they have mostly disappeared.

The exhibition begins by looking at some of the ‘Secrets of the Thames’, one of these grisly secrets is over 250 Bronze Age human skeletal remains that were found in Mortlake. Little is known how and why they died and why they ended up in that particular location.

The Sacred Rivers section includes artefacts from Roman Londinium found in the Walbrook River, during archaeological excavations lots of metal working and other industrial activity was found.

The River Fleet which was considered London’s most important river after the Thames and was known for centuries for being clogged up with filth and debris. A painting called Entrance to the River Fleet by Samuel Scott make the Thames and Fleet look more like Venice than London. One of the more amusing finds from the Fleet is a medieval oak triple toilet seat from the mid 12th century. Although a bit primitive it was actually quite high status and was for private use in a building in Fleet Street.

The various rivers and streams were used for a variety of reasons, like washing, transport, dumping waste from a number of industries and rather strangely for entertainment. When the River Westbourne was blocked in Hyde Park it created the Serpentine Lake which often froze in the winter. A sketch by Thomas Rowlandson shows people falling about on the ice.

More seriously, water was often the cause of many nasty diseases, Jacob’s Island near Bermondsey was a notorious slum over swampy and muddy conditions The area was made famous by Charles Dickens in Oliver Twist.

It was in response to the ‘Great Stink’ and disease that large scale sewerage works in the 19th century were undertaken by Joseph Bazalgette. During the construction of the London sewerage system, many of the rivers and streams were covered and used as part of the sewers. An excellent film gives more details about the enormous construction costs involved in this enterprise that would save thousands of lives.

Despite many of the rivers being covered, the names often carried on and became local areas. The rivers Effra, Fleet, Neckinger, Lea, Wandle, Tyburn, Walbrook and Westbourne began to intrigue various people in the 1990s and ideas were put forward to bring them back out in the open. This was known as ‘Daylighting’ which started off as a joke but began to be taken more seriously.

The old rivers have a bit of a revival in popular culture with a number of modern books that reference the old waterways.

The exhibition tells the largely unknown story of London’s lost rivers and streams and has a large number of fascinating pieces of information and artefacts. Being surrounded on three sides by the River Thames, the Isle of Dogs has a special relationship with the river. No doubt people had special affinities with these other rivers before they were used and abused. This exhibition is a reminder that over time things usually change for the better and even the Thames is cleaner than it has been for centuries.

Bristolian Yacht in West India Dock

After a quite period in West India Dock, we welcome the Bristolian Yacht into the dock.

The 95.14ft (29m) ‘Bristolian’ was built in 1989 by CNB and refitted in 2002.

The yacht was built in aluminium to a design by German Frers and custom interior by Francois Catroux of Paris.

The luxury yacht can accommodate eight guests in four double cabins.

As is usual with these types of yachts, it is not known who is the owner or the purpose of her visit to London.

Island History Tapestries at Bancroft Road – Saturday June 1st 2019

Using tapestries to record history is nothing new, you just need to think about the Bayeux Tapestry and many other examples. However, many people would not know that some Isle of Dogs history has been recorded in this creative and decorative way. To find out more it will be worth making a visit to Bancroft Road to the Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives on Saturday June 1st 2019.

The Friends of Island History Trust will be hosting an event entitled Island History Tapestries which offers a rare opportunity to view the Island History Trust tapestries which are a series of wall hangings, designed and created in the 1980s and 1990s by lifelong residents of the Island. The tapestries include 75 hand-sewn pictures depicting moments in the Islands history.

Identity, 1988. Exhibition Flyer, Chisenhale Gallery.

The general idea behind the tapestries was to provide some banners for the popular Island History Open Days which was run by the Island History Trust. However, many volunteers thought that undertaking some arts and crafts was a great way to combat the stresses of the modern day. The Island History Trust Tapestry wall hangings were considered a good example of community arts practice and were viewed at various venues around Tower Hamlets including the Chisenhale Gallery in Bow in 1988.

A photo of the Island History Trust group, including The IHT Curator Eve Hostettler and Ada Price, their first Chairwoman and Bessie Boylett the second, they are shown working on the second 25 panel wall hanging. (c) FoIHT/Bessie Boylett 

The five wall hangings were created over a period of ten years at weekly group meetings starting in 1984. The first one is still held on the Isle of Dogs, in the history room at St John’s Community Centre in Glengall Grove.

Poster Image c) FoIHT/Ada Price 

Each wall hanging is made up of 25 separate panels portraying the Island from its earliest history, right up to its present day. Hop-picking, a favorite working holiday for many an East Ender was a popular theme but the panels give a broad perspective of late nineteenth and twentieth century Island life from Islanders themselves. The wall hangings were always a popular part of the Island History Open Days held at the Docklands Settlement and were always packaged with care ready for the next time they were used.

Photo (c) Friends of Island History Trust/ Sav Kyriacou  http://www.thamesdockers.org.uk/ History room portraits and first wall hanging made in 1984 on display in the FoIHT History room.

When the wall-hangings were complete, the IHT received a grant from Heritage Lottery, to take them to the Textile conservation Centre at Hampton Court. There they were repaired and provided with archival standard packaging. Bancroft Road was given the three larger tapestries and one that featured hop picking to safeguard on the closure of the Docklands Settlement in 2013 and they have been in storage with the frames and two files of material with photographs and information.

Photo (c) Friends of Island History Trust/ Sav Kyriacou  http://www.thamesdockers.org.uk – Today’s volunteers celebrate the work of the Island History Trust as well as being involved in and supporting projects on the Isle of Dogs and further afield.

These tapestries and materials will be available to view on the 1st June and visitors will be able to discuss with the  volunteers of Friends of Island History Trust of their own involvement with today’s Island community as they share the story of the Island History Trust and share their own memories and experience with today’s community.

With the rapid changes on the Island in the 1980s and 1990s, some residents on the Island knew the importance of preserving the history of the Island. This event illustrates that the Island History Trust and the Friends of Island History Trust often found and do find innovative and creative ways to preserve the history of the Isle of Dogs.

Many thanks to Debbie Levett, Secretary for Friends of Island History Trust for providing information and photographs about the tapestries and the event. If you would like to find out more about Friends of Island History Trust, visit their website at http://www.islandhistory.co.uk

Jeroen Swolfs: Streets of the World Exhibition in Canary Wharf – 2nd to 24 May 2019

In May, Canary Wharf presents Streets of the World, a outdoor exhibition of 195 large photo prints dotted around the Canary Wharf estate.

The exhibition is based on the work of Dutch photographer Jeroen Swolfs who spent seven years travelling the world and photographing the street life of 195 capital cities.

Swolfs travelled through the continents of Asia, Africa, North and South America, Europe and Oceania to record life in cities around the globe.

One of the inspirations for the journey was to explore about what a street means to society, education, wisdom, youth, experience, happiness, stories, food and so much more.

Streets of the World has already been shown in Dubai and Amsterdam, the exhibition at Canary Wharf will be its UK premiere.