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Gallery: Churches of East London
by Peter Kessler, 25 September 2011
Newham Part 2: Churches of Canning Town &
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
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 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 - sold when Shirley Street
opened in 1873. This was bombed in 1940, being demolished for housing.
It was replaced by Custom House Church and then Fife Road.
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 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.
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 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 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.
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 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.
Nine photos on this page by P L Kessler, and one kindly
contributed by the London Borough of Newham.