Home » Posts tagged 'Blackwall Stairs'

Tag Archives: Blackwall Stairs

Memories of The Queen’s Theatre Poplar – David Mitchell

queens the

In a previous post, writer David Mitchell told of some of his memories of Poplar High Street, a main feature of the High Street was the Queen’s Theatre.

The Queen’s Theatre origins lay in the Queen’s Arms public house that was on the site in 1863, by 1867 a hall was built on the back. The theatre was then called the Oriental, this theatre was then demolished in 1873 and a new theatre called the New Albion built.

By the late 19th century new health and safety regulations by the council were introduced that led to a number of changes to the theatre that reopened in 1905 as the Queen’s Theatre of Varieties. It soon gained a reputation as a place to see the up and coming stars, Gracie Fields made her London debut in the theatre.

It also become a favourite of many Islanders who starved of entertainment on the Island made the journey up the ‘Queens’.

Later on in the day came the crunch and the big question.  Would we be allowed to go to Poplar High Street in the evening – or not?    It was very much a matter of the mood our mothers were in.  In a bad mood – no!  But in a good mood – Yes, but don’t come back late!   And so in the evenings, if we were given permission, our gang of boys and girls – average age then, about 8-9 years I would say – gathered together in the street and marched round to the High Street.

First port of call was the fish n’ chip shop – what a Godsend that shop was for the poor people of the East End.  You could buy a handsome piece of fried fish for 2d and a generous portion of chips for a penny.  It was quite a treat to have that occasionally for tea, but only when our Dad was working; however, fish was not for us kids – we had to be happy with the chips.  But sometimes we were generously given a taster by the adults which was delicious and much looked forward to.

Here I must explain that back in those days it was not possible to reserve seats at theatres as one can today. Therefore, it you wanted a good seat it was necessary to arrive early and form a queue.  And these queues, of course, are what attracted the street entertainers to the High Street on Saturday nights.

But first things first, and so into the fish n’chip shop we all trooped.  It was a tall counter and we could just about get our noses high enough if we stood on our toes so that we could be seen. “Pennorf o’ chips Guvnor, please”  we would all cry in unison and we watched hungrily while ’the Guv’ shovelled the lovely golden chips into the large sheet of newspaper in which, in those days, they were served.  The “Guv” folded over the newspaper and then handed the packets to us. One by one, we took the newspaper packages, then the vinegar and the salt cellar and sploshed both all over the chips.  The object was to wet the chips and newspaper with enough vinegar so that when we wrapped them up again we could poke a hole through the newspaper with our finger and then we could extract the lovely chips one by one. How very sad we all were when we came to the last chip!

john earl 1958

© John Earl 1958

Meanwhile, we would then make our exit from the fish n’ chip shop and seated ourselves on the pavement directly opposite the Queens and the queues. As the High Street was a very narrow street we had a grandstand view of all that was going on.  All the external lights of the Queens were switched on and, as if to contribute even more towards the excitement and atmosphere, all the shops had their lights full on too – it was so bright that it was almost like daylight!  It really was a magic atmosphere – there was a buzz in the air and a feeling of expectancy whilst we waited for the street entertainers to arrive.  And as the queues began to lengthen so the entertainers eventually did indeed arrive.

We kids were a noisy little lot and we started by cheering their arrival and then each act as he/she performed.  Neither were we shy of booing if we thought the act was poor.  We were becoming little connoisseurs and critics of street entertainment!  Some of these acts were very good indeed – in fact they should have been performing inside the theatre – not outside. Meanwhile the roasted peanuts vendor went round, the roasted chestnuts man remained stationary however, and the lady with a large basket over her arm laden with apples and oranges crying out and selling their wares – all of this thus adding to the old London atmosphere as they cried out to encourage people to buy.

Then the street artists began to perform and some of the singers were very good indeed.  Our favourites were old MUTTON-EYE – an old chap who came every Saturday dressed in a well worn black suit which had seen much better days – and he always wore a bowler hat. Under his arm he carried a small collapsible organ which he quickly assembled and then sang old music hall songs which made everyone laugh. At the end, round he went with his bowler hat and was grateful to receive what ever he was given by the crowd and then made way for the next entertainer. Next was an act the name of which now escapes me but they were two chaps dressed as Egyptians who did a sand dance.  They too were funny and amused everyone.  It was very nice how each artist completed his/her act and then quickly and unselfishly made way for the next artist whilst going round to collect a few pennies, or maybe more, if they were exceptionally good. But most people threw only a penny in – times were hard!

Occasionally the night was interrupted by a drunk being thrown out of The Ship – the pub Teddy Baldock bought for his parents after winning the World Bantamweight Boxing Championship in the late 1920s and which was also in the High Street. Either the drunk would be of the more sentimental type and would start singing NELLIE DEAN or DANNY BOY at the top of his voice – or – he was maybe a more aggressive type who wanted to fight the world! We kids would watch and it all contributed towards the wonderful atmosphere of Saturday nights in Poplar High Street.

john earl3

© John Earl 1958

Eventually the doors of the theatre would open and the queues would begin to slowly vanish inside.  The street entertainers would then leave followed by the peanut lady, the apples and oranges lady, and the roasted chestnut man.  Then they turned most of the theatre’s lights off and that was the signal for us kids to go home.  So we too vanished into the gloom of the night and it was quite remarkable when Poplar High Street changed from the brightly lit up street full of excitement and electric atmosphere it had been and was now just an ordinary street with just a few people passing by. But that hour or more which had passed was a golden period of time which, as far as I am aware, does not today exist anywhere in London or in the whole wide world come to that.

john earl 2

The Coat of Arms above the door© John Earl 1958

That was a part of East London that has vanished into the annals of history.  We will never see the like of it again. The Queens was affected by the advent of TV and like so many provincial theatres, far too many in my humble opinion, closed it’s doors in the 1950s never to open again.  But what great stars had appeared there in days gone by: Charlie Chaplin, Gracie Fields, Marie Lloyd, Kate Carney and so many others.  Three times I witnessed the house being brought down. A truly dramatic experience.  Once by an artiste named VAN LUIN who dressed as a Dutchman with clogs and his act was yodelling and then he did imitations. His ended his performance with an imitation of Winston Churchill doing his famous speech that spurred us on so much in the war:  WE SHALL FIGHT ON THE BEACHES, WE SHALL FIGHT IN THE STREETS – WE SHALL NEVER SURRENDER – was immaculate, dramatic, and very life-like – in fact it was better than old Winnie himself !  Well the whole theatre went crazy and I thought the old place would collapse.  Then a West Indian singer, whose name I cannot now recall, who sang BEGIN THE BEGUINE in a way we had never heard before also brought the house down – a match between him and Julio Iglesias who had a big hit with the same melody in recent years would have been interesting.

Kate-Carney-1

Kate Carney ‘Coster Comedienne’

Finally I had the pleasure to see our old, dear, KATE CARNEY, an old music hall star of many years ago.  It was 1946 and I was in the Army by then.  My mother and father invited me to join them in a visit to The Queens.  I asked who is on ?  My mother replied – IT IS KATE CARNEY HERSELF !  I had heard of Kate for she was a legend in the East End, but I had never seen her perform We sat in the Stalls and the bar window stretched all along so the audience could see who was there.  My mother nudged my arm and said THAT’S KATE !  And there in the bar I saw an old lady, surrounded by Cockney pearlies with great plumed hats – the ladies that is ! They clearly showed that they absolutely adored her. She stood out because she had bright orange hair – and she must have been in her eighties!  I must say it looked rather peculiar.  Well, we watched the other ‘turns’ one after the other and then it was time for Kate.  She entered the stage and immediately the terrific cheering and stamping of feet began and she acknowledged this display of adoration with an exaggerated wave of her brightly coloured handkerchief – just like a queen.   And then she began her first song but at her old age her old powerful voice had gone and could only croak – it was obvious that she was quite unable to sing as she once did.  But never mind – the audience loved her as she croaked her way through her most famous old songs. But my word ! –  the way that dear lady controlled that audience had to be seen to be believed.  She had them all, every one of them, and me too !, in the palm of her hand – some of our present day entertainers could have learned a great deal from those old Music Hall entertainers. She came to the end of her repertoire but the crowd would not let her go – again and again she went off stage only to return because of the clamour of the audience.  But of course, it had to come to an end and dear old Kate saved her best to the last when she sang her old favourite ARE WE TO PART LIKE THIS BILL ?   And the crowd went wild.

Today, I am very sad to say that you will not find even a small plaque to show where the old theatre used to be – I believe an office block/warehouse was built on the site.  I think the powers that be in The Tower Hamlets perhaps do not know, or worse, do not care how important The Queens was to us East Enders – it was part of our history.   The Queens has gone now and is only remembered by people like me.  As a schoolboy I, quite illegally, worked at The Queens during the war – I told fibs to the owner Morrie Abrahams and said I was 15 but I was still a schoolboy and only 13 ! – my job was as spotlight boy shining the spotlights on all the pretty girls – in later years I was lucky enough to marry one of them!  As a boy I received 15/- (75p) per week for 6 nights and 2 shows per night.  I also had a paper round and stood outside Green & Siley Weir Shipyard in Blackwall Way, for which I received 3d per night, plus I peeled potatoes for the British Restaurant in the western part of Poplar High Street and received a free cooked lunch in return.  So, I was a busy little schoolboy – but quite a wealthy one!   Well, how else could I pay black market prices for my sweets and chocolate?   But what wouldn’t I give to be able to experience just one more magic Saturday night in Poplar High Street. I am not sure if my written words here do justice to those wonderful nights – they were terrific and I am so glad that I lived in that period and to see the wonders of the Music Hall

Poplar_Station2

Each evening, except Sundays, I collected my newspapers from Poplar Railway Station, sold a few copies here and there, and waited for the crowds of dock workers to pour out at 5 pm and then all my newspapers were gone in about 5 minutes !  That was a crazy five minutes. Then it was home for a quick cuppa and off to the theatre to set up my spotlamp.  I usually came home at about 10.30 pm and my mother prepared something to eat for me.

poplar pool

Outside of Queen’s Theatre (taken from the film Pool of London 1951)

David has written the story of his life in a book called A  BOY FROM NOWHERE – It is written in two volumes and can be purchased via Amazon, or from MELROSE BOOKS, ST THOMAS PLACE,  ELY. CAMBS.  Phone: 01353 646 608.
He has also written another, single book, account of  The East End called THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAMS but this is  presently only available on Amazon’s Kindle.
For further information  visit A Boy From Nowhere website click here
Other posts you may find interesting

Memories of Poplar High Street – David Mitchell

blackwall stairs 1931

Ship off Blackwall Stairs 1930s ( Museum of London )

Recently I have come across a number of authors who have written books about Poplar and the Isle of Dogs. Today I would like to introduce you to another author David Mitchell whose book “A Boy from Nowhere ” is an account of his boyhood memories in the East End  especially around the docks.

David has very kindly sent me some of his memories of Poplar High Street and the Queen’s Theatre, in particular,  in this first part of his reminiscences David and his friends show some initiative to earn some extra pocket money which they spend  at the local cinema.

I wonder how many people recall Poplar High Street and the Queens Theatre before the war?  Saturdays was always the day we kids looked forward to.  It began with our little gang of boys and girls when we tried to make a few pennies by collecting drift wood washed up on the shore at the very historical Blackwall Stairs and chopping it up for firewood which we then sold at 1d per bundle.  But the supply was unreliable and so we had to find an alternative option to earn some money.

Abcock1013

A street scene depicting Pennyfields Road, leading towards Poplar High Street. H. Doe.

St John Adcocks Wonderful London 1926/27

This opportunity came when the LCC, our saviour, announced that free disinfectant was to be given to the poor people of East London to encourage hygiene and cleanliness.  But the depot where the disinfectant was doled out was at the other end of Poplar High Street, near Limehouse and Chinatown – almost a mile away I would say.  That was a long trek for mothers and other older ladies to take and so we kids had the idea of establishing a ‘disinfectant service’.   We got up early every Saturday and we went round the houses and flats busily collecting empty bottles and making notes of our ‘customer’s’.  Our little wagon which was made from an old wet fish box with a plank of wood nailed to the bottom to which we nailed a small cross piece on the front part with a swivel bolt, then a small piece of wood to the rear and then we attached four wheels; this enabled us to guide the contraption. I must say it was an ingenious way to control the ‘vehicle’ but I am not sure now whose idea it really was. Anyway, our cart could take 24 normal size bottles (we charged a little extra for larger bottles).  I think there was another small piece of wood at the front which served as a rough kind of seat – this was for the ‘guider’.  Of course we all wanted to be guiders and not pushers but it usually happened that the bigger boys guided and we smaller ones pushed,

originalarapoff 1935

Street scene in Poplar, East London Children playing in a street in Poplar c. 1935. Arapoff (Museum of London)

Once loaded with our empties, off we went right to the top of Poplar High Street near to Chinatown and Limehouse – the High Street  was used initially to go from the West India Docks to the East India Docks and in it’s hey-day was a very busy street indeed. Many shops, cottages, old blocks of flats, pubs could be found there.  But when the bigger, wider, East India Dock Road was built in the 1800s so usage of the old High Street declined and was never the busy thoroughfare it once was.  Nevertheless, it was an important street and still contained the Poplar Library, the Mortuary, one side of the Recreation Ground, an old church school and other places of interest – including the old and renowned Queens Theatre and Music Hall in what I would term the lower part of the High Street.

poplar high st1920s

Poplar High Street 1930s

Our charge for this service was 1d per bottle, and so, after we had delivered our bottles to our customers we then shared out the money.  So that meant we had 2 shillings to share between us. So how much each child had was dependent on the number who assisted. But sometimes, if it was only four of us, we had a whole sixpence each. For kids who were jolly lucky to get ha’penny a week from our fathers, and nothing at all when he was out of work, that was indeed a lot of money in those days and people today would be amazed at what sixpence (2.5 new pence) could buy back then.

lgrand cinema

Grand Cinema 1920s

A little later in the morning we would usually go to the ‘tuppeny rush’ as we called it, i.e. the cinema or movies. Mostly we went to The Grand Cinema on the corner of Robin  Hood Lane and East India Dock Road, because The Pavilion, a little further along, was a little more posh and therefore more expensive. I think it was 3d to go in there as against 2d only at The Grand.  Before going in we would buy a bag of roasted peanuts and maybe an apple and an orange from the fruit lady – it depended, as always, on how much we had to spend.  There we would sit munching away watching our old favourites like Tom Mix and Buck Jones – these were our best known cowboys.  We called them “the Goodies” but the rustlers and bank robbers we called “the Baddies” and then there were a lot of comedies featuring Our Gang starring Alfalfa Switzer, (what terrific and very funny little actors they were),  the Keystone cops, Charlie Chaplin etc. There were a number of others too but I cannot now remember them.

Ogfolliesof38

Our Gang (Alfalfa Switzer on the right)

We boys all fell in love with dear little Shirley Temple when she began in films.  She was only a very tiny tot but was quite obviously a very talented child – one could see that from the beginning of her career when she was only 3-4 years of age. But we munched away and cheered our heroes too – it was a racket and quite deafening.  When the programme was over we trooped out but, my God! – what a mess we left behind us!  There were mountains of peanut shells, apple cores, orange peel, etc.  The cinema had to be ready for the adult afternoon performances and I expect the cleaners cursed us kids uphill and down dale for the work we had caused them.

David has written the story of his life in a book called A  BOY FROM NOWHERE – It is written in two volumes and can be purchased via Amazon, or from MELROSE BOOKS, ST THOMAS PLACE,  ELY. CAMBS.  Phone: 01353 646 608.
He has also written another, single book, account of  The East End called THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAMS but this is  presently only available on Amazon’s Kindle.
For further information  visit A Boy From Nowhere website click here

Blackwall Stairs – Daniel Defoe’s Journal of a Plague Year

great%20plague

Woodcut of the Plague of 1665

It is always fascinating the way that certain places are portrayed in fact and fiction, this is especially the case with the Isle of Dogs which has long been considered remote from the rest of London.

The following passages are taken from Daniel Defoe’s Journal of a Plague Year, although written long after the Plague in 1722, the book was allegedly based on Defoe’s uncles Journal. With its meticulous attention to detail and consideration of the effect the plague had on the population it was accepted as fact for many when first published. Even now it is considered a classic of historical fiction, in these passages our narrator has walked out of the City and come upon Blackwall Stairs.

Much about the same time I walked out into the fields towards Bow; for I had a great mind to see how things were managed in the river and among the ships; and as I had some concern in shipping, I had a notion that it had been one of the best ways of securing one’s self from the infection to have retired into a ship; and musing how to satisfy my curiosity in that point, I turned away over the fields from Bow to Bromley, and down to Blackwall to the stairs which are there for landing or taking water.

Here I saw a poor man walking on the bank, or sea-wall, as they call it, by himself. I walked a while also about, seeing the houses all shut up. At last I fell into some talk, at a distance, with this poor man; first I asked him how people did thereabouts. ‘Alas, sir!’ says he, ‘almost desolate; all dead or sick. Here are very few families in this part, or in that village’ (pointing at Poplar), ‘where half of them are not dead already, and the rest sick.’ Then he pointing to one house, ‘There they are all dead’, said he, ‘and the house stands open; nobody dares go into it. A poor thief’, says he, ‘ventured in to steal something, but he paid dear for his theft, for he was carried to the churchyard too last night.’ Then he pointed to several other houses. ‘There’, says he, ‘they are all dead, the man and his wife, and five children. There’, says he, ‘they are shut up; you see a watchman at the door’; and so of other houses. ‘Why,’ says I, ‘what do you here all alone?’ ‘Why,’ says he, ‘I am a poor, desolate man; it has pleased God I am not yet visited, though my family is, and one of my children dead.’ ‘How do you mean, then,’ said I, ‘that you are not visited?’ ‘Why,’ says he, ‘that’s my house’ (pointing to a very little, low-boarded house), ‘and there my poor wife and two children live,’ said he, ‘if they may be said to live, for my wife and one of the children are visited, but I do not come at them.’ And with that word I saw the tears run very plentifully down his face; and so they did down mine too, I assure you.

‘But,’ said I, ‘why do you not come at them? How can you abandon your own flesh and blood?’ ‘Oh, sir,’ says he, ‘the Lord forbid! I do not abandon them; I work for them as much as I am able; and, blessed be the Lord, I keep them from want’; and with that I observed he lifted up his eyes to heaven, with a countenance that presently told me I had happened on a man that was no hypocrite, but a serious, religious, good man, and his ejaculation was an expression of thankfulness that, in such a condition as he was in, he should be able to say his family did not want. ‘Well,’ says I, ‘honest man, that is a great mercy as things go now with the poor. But how do you live, then, and how are you kept from the dreadful calamity that is now upon us all?’ ‘Why, sir,’ says he, ‘I am a waterman, and there’s my boat,’ says he, ‘and the boat serves me for a house. I work in it in the day, and I sleep in it in the night; and what I get I lay down upon that stone,’ says he, showing me a broad stone on the other side of the street, a good way from his house; ‘and then,’ says he, ‘I halloo, and call to them till I make them hear; and they come and fetch it.’

‘Well, friend,’ says I, ‘but how can you get any money as a waterman? Does any body go by water these times?’ ‘Yes, sir,’ says he, ‘in the way I am employed there does. Do you see there,’ says he, ‘five ships lie at anchor’ (pointing down the river a good way below the town), ‘and do you see’, says he, ‘eight or ten ships lie at the chain there, and at anchor yonder?’ (pointing above the town). ‘All those ships have families on board, of their merchants and owners, and such-like, who have locked themselves up and live on board, close shut in, for fear of the infection; and I tend on them to fetch things for them, carry letters, and do what is absolutely necessary, that they may not be obliged to come on shore; and every night I fasten my boat on board one of the ship’s boats, and there I sleep by myself, and, blessed be God, I am preserved hitherto.’

‘Well,’ said I, ‘friend, but will they let you come on board after you have been on shore here, when this is such a terrible place, and so infected as it is?’

‘Why, as to that,’ said he, ‘I very seldom go up the ship-side, but deliver what I bring to their boat, or lie by the side, and they hoist it on board. If I did, I think they are in no danger from me, for I never go into any house on shore, or touch anybody, no, not of my own family; but I fetch provisions for them.’

‘Nay,’ says I, ‘but that may be worse, for you must have those provisions of somebody or other; and since all this part of the town is so infected, it is dangerous so much as to speak with anybody, for the village’, said I, ‘is, as it were, the beginning of London, though it be at some distance from it.’

‘That is true,’ added he; ‘but you do not understand me right; I do not buy provisions for them here. I row up to Greenwich and buy fresh meat there, and sometimes I row down the river to Woolwich and buy there; then I go to single farm-houses on the Kentish side, where I am known, and buy fowls and eggs and butter, and bring to the ships, as they direct me, sometimes one, sometimes the other. I seldom come on shore here, and I came now only to call on my wife and hear how my family do, and give them a little money, which I received last night.’

‘Poor man!’ said I; ‘and how much hast thou gotten for them?’

‘I have gotten four shillings,’ said he, ‘which is a great sum, as things go now with poor men; but they have given me a bag of bread too, and a salt fish and some flesh; so all helps out.’ ‘Well,’ said I, ‘and have you given it them yet?’

‘No,’ said he; ‘but I have called, and my wife has answered that she cannot come out yet, but in half-an-hour she hopes to come, and I am waiting for her. Poor woman!’ says he, ‘she is brought sadly down. She has a swelling, and it is broke, and I hope she will recover; but I fear the child will die, but it is the Lord—’

Here he stopped, and wept very much.

‘Well, honest friend,’ said I, ‘thou hast a sure Comforter, if thou hast brought thyself to be resigned to the will of God; He is dealing with us all in judgement.’

‘Oh, sir!’ says he, ‘it is infinite mercy if any of us are spared, and who am I to repine!’

‘Sayest thou so?’ said I, ‘and how much less is my faith than thine?’ And here my heart smote me, suggesting how much better this poor man’s foundation was on which he stayed in the danger than mine; that he had nowhere to fly; that he had a family to bind him to attendance, which I had not; and mine was mere presumption, his a true dependence and a courage resting on God; and yet that he used all possible caution for his safety.

I turned a little way from the man while these thoughts engaged me, for, indeed, I could no more refrain from tears than he.

At length, after some further talk, the poor woman opened the door and called, ‘Robert, Robert’. He answered, and bid her stay a few moments and he would come; so he ran down the common stairs to his boat and fetched up a sack, in which was the provisions he had brought from the ships; and when he returned he hallooed again. Then he went to the great stone which he showed me and emptied the sack, and laid all out, everything by themselves, and then retired; and his wife came with a little boy to fetch them away, and called and said such a captain had sent such a thing, and such a captain such a thing, and at the end adds, ‘God has sent it all; give thanks to Him.’ When the poor woman had taken up all, she was so weak she could not carry it at once in, though the weight was not much neither; so she left the biscuit, which was in a little bag, and left a little boy to watch it till she came again.

‘Well, but’, says I to him, ‘did you leave her the four shillings too, which you said was your week’s pay?’

‘Yes, yes,’ says he; ‘you shall hear her own it.’ So he calls again, ‘Rachel, Rachel,’ which it seems was her name, ‘did you take up the money?’ ‘Yes,’ said she. ‘How much was it?’ said he. ‘Four shillings and a groat,’ said she. ‘Well, well,’ says he, ‘the Lord keep you all’; and so he turned to go away.

As I could not refrain contributing tears to this man’s story, so neither could I refrain my charity for his assistance. So I called him, ‘Hark thee, friend,’ said I, ‘come hither, for I believe thou art in health, that I may venture thee’; so I pulled out my hand, which was in my pocket before, ‘Here,’ says I, ‘go and call thy Rachel once more, and give her a little more comfort from me. God will never forsake a family that trust in Him as thou dost.’ So I gave him four other shillings, and bid him go lay them on the stone and call his wife.

I have not words to express the poor man’s thankfulness, neither could he express it himself but by tears running down his face. He called his wife, and told her God had moved the heart of a stranger, upon hearing their condition, to give them all that money, and a great deal more such as that he said to her. The woman, too, made signs of the like thankfulness, as well to Heaven as to me, and joyfully picked it up; and I parted with no money all that year that I thought better bestowed.

I then asked the poor man if the distemper had not reached to Greenwich. He said it had not till about a fortnight before; but that then he feared it had, but that it was only at that end of the town which lay south towards Deptford Bridge; that he went only to a butcher’s shop and a grocer’s, where he generally bought such things as they sent him for, but was very careful.

I asked him then how it came to pass that those people who had so shut themselves up in the ships had not laid in sufficient stores of all things necessary. He said some of them had—but, on the other hand, some did not come on board till they were frighted into it and till it was too dangerous for them to go to the proper people to lay in quantities of things, and that he waited on two ships, which he showed me, that had laid in little or nothing but biscuit bread and ship beer, and that he had bought everything else almost for them. I asked him if there was any more ships that had separated themselves as those had done. He told me yes, all the way up from the point, right against Greenwich, to within the shore of Limehouse and Redriff, all the ships that could have room rid two and two in the middle of the stream, and that some of them had several families on board. I asked him if the distemper had not reached them. He said he believed it had not, except two or three ships whose people had not been so watchful to keep the seamen from going on shore as others had been, and he said it was a very fine sight to see how the ships lay up the Pool.