RepositoryArchives
Ref NoP/MIS/107
LevelSub-fonds
TitleEvidences of Title re no.17 [later 43] Leman Street, Whitechapel
Extent3 items
AdminHistoryLeman Street became part of the Goodman's Fields development, on previously open ground, in the 17th century. The area remained fashionable until industrialisation wrought changes in the built environment (1). No. 17 was built c.1861-63 as the German Mission School, reflecting a thriving German community closely associated with the sugar-refining industry in 18th and 19th century London (2).

After the school closed in 1897, the building was utilised for commercial purposes. By 1903, a branch of the Jewish Working Girls Club occupied the premises (3). The purchase of the leasehold was facilitated by generous supporters. The club promoted its curriculum as well as the assimilation of poor Jewish migrant children from Eastern Europe. Funding was secured to purchase the freehold of the site in 1928. However, the club's finances were unstable, and it closed in the late 1930s (4).

No. 17 was requisitioned by the Colonial Office in 1942 and opened as Colonial House as a hostel for black colonial seamen involved in the war effort. Clients could stay for three months as they awaited their next contract at sea (5). Criticism of the hostel's management led to its closure in 1946. Local activists including Edith Ramsay and the East London Welfare Advisory Committee criticised this dereliction of public duty. The Colonial Office was persuaded to keep the place open. Several unregistered lodging houses - often improvised bomb-damaged houses in poor repair - opened their doors to colonial seamen (6). Further closure was announced in 1949. Throughout much of the 1950s, Colonial House was a reception centre for stowaways. By 1959 it had closed, and the building was used by the clothing firm Bellman & Sons (7).

Recently, the site has undergone a major apartmental development. Earlier proposals had been rejected for non-compliance with the London Plan (8). The Mayor of London later ruled that LBTH, as principal planning authority, should make the final decision (9). Eventually, the project was allowed, on appeal. OCM Luxembourg Leman Street Apart-Hotel obtained planning permission for a 251-bedroom hotel, which was built c. 2014, and opened for business in 2016 as Leman Locke (10).

Sources of information:
1. 'Goodman's Fields' in stgitehistory.org
2. 'German Mission Day School, 17 Leman Street' : October 6 2017 in surveyoflondon.org
3/4. 'Jewish Working Girls Club (1903-c. 1938)' : October 6 2017 in surveyoflondon.org
5/6. 'Colonial House (1942-1957)': October 6 2017 in surveyoflondon.org
7. 'The Former Colonial House, 17 Leman Street' : 23 October 2017 in surveyoflondon.org
15-17, Leman Street/1a, Buckle Street, Aldgate:-
8. 6 January 2010: Strategic Planning Application Proposal Stage 1 Statutory Referral : Planning Reference PDU/2342a/01 (LBTH Planning Application No. PA/09-525) london.gov.uk
9. 10 February 2012: Strategic Planning Application Proposal Stage 2 Statutory Referral: Planning Reference PDU/2342a/02 (LBTH Planning Application No. PA/09/2430) london.gov.uk
10. 'Leman Locke 15-17, Leman Street' : 31 July 2020 in surveyoflondon.org
'17 Leman Street' in Connecting Histories: Building Narratives of Goodman's Fields (prims.co.uk)
Access StatusOpen
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