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WWI 100: London’s Memorials… Cyprus Street

WW1 London Memorials Logo

Cyprus Street Memorial

Cyprus Street, Bethnal Green

Map

Across the UK, most of the memorials dedicated to those who perished in WWI were created in an official capacity.

However, right in the heart of London’s East End (Bethnal Green to be precise) on a quiet road called Cyprus Street, there stands a memorial which is somewhat different…

Cyprus Street Memorial

The Cyprus Street Memorial.

As the Great War raged between 1914 and 1918, memorials similar to the one on Cyprus Street became a common sight across Britain; unofficial shrines to local men who had been killed in battle.

Such sanctums were erected on a temporary basis and were later replaced by grand, official memorials in the years following the armistice.

The Cyprus Street plaque was originally paid for by the Duke of Wellington’s Discharged and Demobolised Soldiers and Sailors Benevolent Club; a group who were based at and took their name from a local pub. 

Cyprus Street sign

After the war, the Cyprus Street memorial was maintained for a special reason: the 26 East End lads named on the plaque represented the highest loss to hit a single London street.

Plaque

In the 1960s the Cyprus Street memorial was nearly lost for good when the local housing association decided to plonk a modern block of flats on the site.

During the demolition of the house upon which the memorial was located, the plaque was damaged. Thankfully the pieces were rescued and stashed away in a pub for safekeeping.

1960s flat blocks on Cyprus Street- the building on the left marks the original location of the WWI memorial.

1960s flat blocks on Cyprus Street- the building on the left marks the original site of the WWI memorial.

Following this callous blow, the local tenants association clubbed together to fund a replica- the version which can be seen today, a short distance from its original location.

Location of the Cyprus Street memorial as it appears today; about 500 ft from the original location.

Location of the Cyprus Street memorial as it appears today; about 500 ft from the original site.

Today, the Cyprus Street memorial is lovingly maintained by two elderly locals; Ron Sale and Dave Stanley who hope that their work will be taken on when they are no longer around to do so.

Cyprus Street Plaque

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9 responses

  1. What a wonderful little tale. Shall we put our names down to look after it when the present encumbants can no longer do so? Hope you are well Rob. Kindest regards Darren.

    1. Cheers, Darren I’m very well thanks, hope you and your family are too.

  2. So interesting ny grand parents lived at number 11 Cyprus does it still exist? Also great grandmother mrs chalice booth also of 11 Cyprus street, helped to run the mile end mission before during and after the war. Do you have any info? I have tried for years.

    1. Not sure if number 11 still exists as a section of the street is now occupied by modern 1960s blocks. A lot of Cyprus Street remains just as it was though.

  3. jeanette jackson | Reply

    My grandfather’s name is on the plaque of Cyprus St. I visited about 10 years ago. My mum, nan & aunt lived st number 88. My grandfather Joseph Thorn(e) died November 1916.
    We

    1. Thank you so much for sharing that, Jeanette. You must be very proud to see your grandfather’s name on such a moving memorial. Much respect to his legacy and love to your family.

  4. I live in Cyprus Street a few doors along from the memorial. I always show visitors it.

  5. Thank you Ron and Dave for taking care of the Memorial I used to look at from out side my father’s old home at 24, Cyprus Street every time I visited uncle Dan and aunt’s Lizzie, Christinia and cousin Charlotte, not forgetting uncle Charlie aunt Anne and Charlie Boy who lived at 26. Should any follower had a relative serving in the Royal Navy during WW1 at the battle of Jutland log onto http://www.jutland.org.uk

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