History Files


Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of East London

by Peter Kessler, 25 September 2011



Newham Part 2: Churches of Canning Town & Silvertown

Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church

Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church stands behind a high brick wall and tall black gates on the southern side of Killip Close (formerly Wilberforce Street) in the Canning Town area of Newham. The church was built in 1925 as a chapel of ease to serve the Tidal Basin area, within the same parish as the Catholic Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In 1966 the church was rebuilt as Bennett Hall for St Margaret's Church Youth Club and is maintained by St Fidelis Friary.

St Luke's (New) Church

St Luke's (New) Church is on the southern side of Ruscoe Road, opposite Ibbotson Avenue. St Luke's (Old) Church was closed in 1985 (see below) and converted into a community centre. The parish was undergoing the beginnings of a massive regeneration project which would see about one third of it demolished and rebuilt, and clearly there was still a need for a church. The new church opened at Easter 2000, on a site about a five minute walk from the old one.

Shirley Street United Methodist Church

Shirley Street United Methodist Church stood on Shirley Street, probably at the south-east corner with Ruscoe Road shown here. The church was founded in 1853 with meetings at Coke Oven Cottages, on the site of the later Thames Ironworks. A small church was built in Victoria Dock Road in 1860-1861. It was sold when Shirley Street opened in 1873. This was bombed in 1940 and later demolished for housing. It was replaced by Custom House Church and then Fife Road.

Providence Chapel

Providence Chapel stood on Shirley Street. It possibly existed here, at the south-eastern corner of Shirley Street and Turner Street until about 2007, when it was demolished. The chapel existed by about 1870, when it was joined by some of those who had previously met at Mount Zion, Barking Road. In 1878 it was taken over by a new group who needed a chapel. About 1910 they were weakened by secession, and in 1917 the chapel closed. It was sold in 1918.

St Luke's (Old) Church

St Luke's (Old) Church stands between Tarling Road and St Luke's Square, with the main entrance on Jude Street. The church was consecrated in 1875 as St Luke's Victoria Docks, planned by Henry Boyd, vicar of St Mark's Church (below). In the same year it gained a separate parish from part of that of St Mark's. The church is a lofty building in the Early English style, with an apsidal chancel and a flèche instead of a tower. It was badly damaged by bombing in 1940.

St Luke's (Old) Church

Services continued in a garage until the church hall was repaired. Temporary repairs were carried out in 1949, and permanent reconstruction was completed by 1960. In 1961 the parish was augmented by parts of the former parishes of The Holy Trinity, St Gabriel, and St Matthew. Unfortunately, St Luke's itself was closed in 1985, although it was subsequently refurbished as a community centre. St Luke's (New) Church was opened on Ruscoe Road in 2000 (see above).

St Barnabas West Silvertown

St Barnabas West Silvertown stood on Eastwood Road (which has ceased to exist following modern redevelopment. The church was built in 1882 as a mission of St Mark's (below). In the Silvertown explosion of 1917, when fifty tons of TNT at the nearby munitions factory exploded and killed 73 people, the chancel was blown away and an iron hall destroyed. Temporary buildings were used until 1926, when a new church was completed. The church closed about 1959.

St Mark's (Old) Church

St Mark's (Old) Church stands on the northern side of North Woolwich Road, opposite what used to be a single line freight railway with factories beyond it. Oriental Road is about fifty metres to the west. The church was founded as St Mark Victoria Docks in 1857, when an iron building, also used as a school, was erected. The present permanent brick church was built in 1862, designed in an unorthodox Victorian Gothic style by S S Teulon. It gained a parish in 1864.

St Mark's (Old) Church

The church survived the Second World War unscathed and by 1966 was isolated amid the warehouses, roads, and railways of the reorganised dock area. It closed in the 1980s and was saved from a fire when the roof collapsed under the accumulated weight of pigeon droppings. It is now Brick Lane Music Hall. Almost next door, Silvertown Church was built on Oriental Road in 1893 by the Peculiar People. It was still open in the 1930s, but by 1966 was a paper warehouse.

Holt Road Mission Hall

Holt Road Mission Hall stood along the road of the same name, which itself heads north from the semi-industrial Albert Road in Silvertown. The hall was registered in 1910 by the 'Liberty Section' of the Peculiar People, a sect native to southern Essex and North Kent. In 1897–8 a Plaistow man belonging to this sect was convicted of manslaughter after refusing, on religious grounds, to seek medical aid for his dying son. The hall had ceased to be used by 1956.

In Depth
In Depth


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