A Trip Down Three Colt Street

Three Colt Street in Limehouse was a middle class thoroughfare of shops and businesses, surrounded by the poverty and slums of the East End. Let's take a trip down it in 1841 and see what sort of shops you would find.

Back in 1841 Three Colt Street was the nicest street in Limehouse. It had thriving businesses and was distinctly classier than the surrounding streets. The street was first recorded in historic documents in 1362 yet the cool thing about this street is you can still walk down it today, albeit much changed. It was always a major trading thoroughfare, providing one way of access to the docks on the western side of the Isle Of Dogs.

It’s most famous building, and it remains to this day, is St. Anne’s Church, which stands at the northern end. If you were to visit the street, I'd recommend you start at the northern end with a visit to the church.

The street was extended southwards after 1850, replacing the area known at that time as Limekiln Hill next to Ropemaker's Fields.

In 1841, the Post Office created a Business Catalogue of London - a fascinating document that I have used extensively to find people and places. Let's go back to that time and take a walk down Three Colt Street, starting at the northern end, heading south.

On the corner, at number 1 Three Colt Street was the King’s Head pub with Mayes Ambrose as its landlord. A few steps further down at number 10, John Blade ran a grocer and cheesemonger.

Number 13 housed William Hunter’s carpentry and undertaking business and was also the site of the Limehouse Savings Bank. At number 16 you’d have found Robert Turner running a blackingmaker business - he made boot polish.

George Clarkson ran a grocers shop at number 25 and James Child ran the bakery next door at number 25. The pork butcher. Robert Sykes was at number 26.

Number 27 was John Scott & Company - a hairdressing salon where my great great great grandfather William Jarvis worked.. Simon Lane ran a stationary shop at number 33 and John Bates was the third grocer on the street at number 35.

Samuel Partridge at number 37 sold oil. Numbers 38 and 43 were also grocers, run by Anthony Upton and John Hebditch respectively. Number 44 was occupied by a ship’s medicine supplier named T Hooker.

The Post Office was at number 44 and Nathan William ran a very popular pawnbrokers business at number 49 and 50. Margaret Hine ran a ship’s butcher shop at 51 and Lowther Jackson ran a tailoring and drapery business at number 52.

James Bensley ran a linen draper’s shop at number 54. Number 55 was a butchers shop run by Mrs. Georgiana Upton and number 59 was a tobacconist operated by Mrs. Rosetta Vine.

Robert Hone sold fruit from number 60, next door to a paper stainer and hanger’s shop run by William Collender at number 61. James Woodham ran a greengrocers at number 64 and the Victoria pub at number 67 had Thomas Frederick as its landlord.

George Bilton at number 68 ran a chemist and John Featon was another linen draper at number 69. Another bakery at number 72 was operated by Joseph Dear and then the third pub, the King & Queen, was at number 75 with John Redulis as its landlord.

William Argent operated a glazier and plumbing business from number 78 and Thomas Bailey was a doctor and surgeon at number 81. Finally, Mrs Mary Shutt ran a plumbers from number 85.

By 1851, the census for Three Colt Street shows one family having three live-in domestic servants, and much change since the business directory listed above. For example, in 1851, there were more river-related activities happening on Three Colt Street - ships chandlers, shipwrights and a sawyer. By 1868, the beautifully named “Union Jack Shoeblack and Rag Collecting Brigade” had opened at number 8 Three Colt Street, helping destitute children to earn money by blacking shoes and collecting waste paper from nearby offices.

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