Wednesday 21 July 2021

Redevelopment of Onyx House, 401 Mile End Road

Photo of CZWG's iconic Onyx House peering through renovation hordings
Conversion works approach completion

In January 2019 Tower Hamlets Council, proposed to lease 401 Mile End Road (aka Onyx House) from Gateway Housing. A planning application was submitted for the:

 "Conversion of the existing college/teaching institution to temporary accommodation units. Change of use from D1 (non residential institutions) to C3 (dwelling houses)"

and this was approved in March 2019. The plans include secure bike storage at the rear, accessed from the east side of the building boundary near the Territorial Army Centre, as well as concealed bin storage inside the southwest boundary fence. The development is car-free.

The redevelopment will consist of 15 self-contained flats and this temporary accommodation is scheduled to last for five years and provide temporary accommodation to allow the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to reduce its homelessness. The application received two objections which were chiefly concerned about parking issues and the potential for increased ASB and drug use. The council will have a management plan in place which will mitigate these issues. Additionally LBTH have stated: "No offer of accommodation will be made to a household where there is a known history of behaviour that would make a placement inappropriate. This will include anti-social behaviour, drug and alcohol misuse, violent and other criminal behaviour".

The conversion is on schedule to be completed in the first two weeks of August.

The first known building that was standing on this site was the so called Essex House, an early 18th century mansion. The building was facing Mile End Road with a large garden behind. After 1891 it was the home of Charles Robert Ashbee, of the Arts and Craft movement, who had here workshops producing metalwork and jewellery for which he became famous. After he moved in 1902, Essex House survived another 35 years, but was demolished in 1937 to make way for an art deco style Odeon cinema that opened in 1938. The cinema survived the war and although changing function later in its life, it occupied the site until 1984 when it was demolished. The present building with its unusual façade is attributed to Piers Gough, who lives locally, and is the architect responsible for the nearby Green Bridge. 

Photo of Essex House which was on the spot now taken by Onyx House.
Essex House, demolished 1937

A photo of the Mile End Odeon Cinema which occupied the site where Onyx House now stands.
The 2,304 seater Mile End Odeon cinema demolished in 1984

Monday 19 July 2021

COVID-19 in Tower Hamlets - Local vaccination info

"Everyone over the age of 18 can get the COVID-19 jab

Across the UK, as a percentage, more adults have had their second jab than those in Tower Hamlets who have had their first (see the graphs below). Many ideas have been suggested for this lag including the relative young age of the borough's population and vaccine hesitancy due to misinformation.

One other reason is finding the time to get the jab. Tower Hamlets Council have lots of locations where people can go, including the Art Pavilion in Mile End Park which is the borough's principal vaccination site with vaccinations available from 8.30am to 7.20PM daily without a booking, making it easier to fit around work. You don't need ID.

Government statistics showing the low uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine in Tower Hamlets compared to the rest of the UK
Vaccination Data taken from UK Government COVID-19 dashboard 4pm 17th July

Sunday 18 July 2021

MEOTRA - Location, Location, Location

I recently came across a triplet of  videos filmed on location in the Meotra area. Admittedly they are getting on a bit, but I thought you might enjoy a gander. (You may have to view this post  via our website to see the YouTube links)

First off is comedian Holly Burn, who used to live in Morgan Street, with her spoof  "73 Questions with Victoria Beckham Vogue "(3.20 mins).  Filmed in Ye Olde Corner Shoppe, Robert even gets a speaking part in between grinning away. The real Victoria Beckham liked it so much she tweeted it to her followers

Holly is back in Robert's shop for a Line of Duty spoof which is brilliant (2.20 mins). We see the return of Robert's grin, but the scene stealer is the roll of carpet. Lichfield, Morgan, Aberavon and Alloway are all featured. Enjoy.

Finally we have Russell from WJ Meade in an episode of Unsellables UK. (27 mins). The whole episode is about a house in the Meotra area that is difficult to shift and has been on the market for 10 months. Russell does manage to get a Gene Wilder reference in there when discussing the fourth bedroom and it all ends well after electric blue and pink are swapped for more neutral colours.

The house prices mentioned are light years away from current ones. See if you can work out when it was filmed? The absence of black masonry paint might help you date the programme?

Saturday 17 July 2021

Free Exhibition: A PHOTOGRAPHIC HISTORY OF HOLY TRINITY BOW (24th and 25th July)

An historic wedding photo from inside Holy Trinity Church, Morgan Street.

Next Saturday and Sunday 24th and 25th July there is a newly curated photographic exhibition at Holy Trinity Church Bow (now renamed The Arts and Heritage Centre Bow (

The exhibition will enable you to find out the story of the building and the community it served for almost two centuries. Guided tours will bring memory, history and images to life in an event celebrating the heritage and the people of Bow.

You can book your place for free via the dedicated Eventbrite page or just attend on Saturday 24th or Sunday 25th July  any time between 11-4PM

The sparse but atmospheric interior of the Hac (formerly Holy Trinity, Morgan Street)

St Marylebone Music Festival -18th - 23rd July


Painting of St Marylebone Church

Tomorrow sees the start of the annual St Marylebone music festival. Full details are available here.

The One Creation Climate Change Concert on Wednesday 21st July at 7PM, features songs and texts inspired by music from diverse backgrounds and is coordinated by Meotra resident Alice Sielle who also provides visuals. The concert is directed by Gavin Roberts.

You can book tickets here:

Artwork by local resident Alice Sielle.