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Eric Pemberton’s Postcards – Cubitt Town and the Isle of Dogs

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Multi-view of Cubitt Town 1912
Once again many thanks to Eric Pemberton for sending an intriguing collection of postcards and photographs.  The above postcard is interesting for the views shown, they mostly consist of Island Gardens, Greenwich and a couple of churches.
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Primitive Methodist Church Cubitt Town

The chapel stood on the west side of Manchester Road, the first Primitive Methodist building here was begun by Thomas Ennor of Limehouse in 1862. There was a schoolroom below the chapel. The building was extended backwards in 1878 and again in 1891, increasing the accommodation to 450.

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St. Lukes Church was bombed out during 2nd World War, the last remaining part of the church was demolished last year.
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 Mellish Street.
A very unusual view of Mellish Street from the early 20th century.
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The Granary Millwall Docks
The Central Granary could cope with 550 tons of grain handled in an hour. The granary had a capacity of 20,000 tons and was considered a major advance in dealing with grain. The building itself was a shell of three million  bricks with 7½ acres of floor space. It was 259ft by 103ft and 95ft tall in eleven storeys, ten for storage in five firewalled divisions, with delivery on the ground floor. The basement and the attic were for conveyors. The Central Granary remained the principal granary in the Port and a vital part of London’s grain trade until 1969, it was demolished in 1970.
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A very rare Stereoscope of the Great Eastern launch
Eric Pemberton and his colleagues in the Friends of Island Gardens have helped to promote changes in Island Gardens to make the area more attractive. Island Gardens are visited by over one million people each year but do not have any public toilet facilities. Eric has began a petition to address this oversight to provide better facilities for the many visitors to Island Gardens.
If you would like to support and sign the petition, visit the Government site here. 

Farewell to the old St Luke’s Church, Millwall

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Buildings being demolished is not an unusual site on the Isle of Dogs, however walking down Alpha Grove I was surprised by the sight of a demolition squad knocking down the remains of St Luke’s Church Millwall.

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The building had become very run down in recent years and plans are in hand for a new church and community centre on the site.  When this church is built it will carry on the tradition of  church buildings on the site since 1868.

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The first church was built in 1868 on land donated by Lady Margaret Charteris and Lord Stafford, it was considered quite a grand church for the area seating 700. The architect was E. L. Blackburne  who had earlier restored Crosby Hall in Bishopsgate.

A mission hall was built on to the south side of the church in 1883. It was converted into a chapel when new parish rooms were built in 1912. There was also a Gothic-style vicarage  built on the site  in 1873.

The church became an important part of the local community and as the following 1937 newspaper report  states the scene of an occasional  drama.

Pretty 25-year-old Gladys Kite, dressmaker, of Havannah street, Millwall, sobbed as she told how for the third time her marriage had been postponed.
She was to have married Mr Ernest Jolly, aged 22, of Wanlip-road, West Ham under-manager in a Dagenham refrigerator factory.
‘We were to have been married in June,” said Miss Kite. “Later we made arrangements for a wedding in September. ”
Then Ernest fell out of work, so waited until to-day.
“We had rented a flat at Ilford and had been paying for it for five weeks. We had been friends for eight years.
“When I saw Ernest last night I laughingly told him I would keep the ring in case he forgot to bring it to the church.”

For two hours she waited for him at her home, dressed in a bridal gown and carrying a bouquet of white lilies,her blonde hair specially waved, she waited to hand him the ring before she left for St, Luke’s Church.
“My uncle Stephen arrived at 1.5o p.m., “and told me Ernest had disappeared,” she added.
“We waited two hours before some one went round to the church to tell the guests there would be no wedding.
“Ernest had been living with my parents for the” last month.” but it was arranged that he should spend last night with my uncle.
“He kissed me good-night, and left”  Stephen Kite, the uncle, of North-street, Barking, said “Ernest went shopping, returned, told me the friend who was to have brought his wedding suit had not arrived, and said he had better go and see about it.”
No one had seen him since.

It was not to be third time lucky for poor Gladys , and within a few years the church itself was unlucky when it was badly damaged in the Second World War.

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By 1960 the decision was made to demolish the church, however a chapel with stained-glass windows was made at the east end of the parish rooms and consecrated for worship.

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St Luke’s Church Interior 1960

This chapel and the parish rooms was only ever intended to be a temporary solution but was used for the next 54 years.

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The design for  the new church with community centre are in keeping with the church at the centre  of the local community, however the destruction of the last remnant of the old church will be viewed with some sadness by a few islanders as a loss of a connection with the past.

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