Tag Archives: East End

The Pride of Poplar… A New Statue Comes to Town

On May 16th 2014, East London will be blessed with a brand new statue of former boxer, Teddy Baldock; one of the area’s most remarkable sons.

Teddy Baldock

Teddy Baldock

Born in Poplar in May 1907 Teddy’s life was marked by triumph and tragedy.

In 1927 aged just 19 he fought his way to become Britain’s youngest ever boxing world champion; a record which remains to this day. In his rise to fame, Teddy amassed a fortune and became known as the ‘Pride of Poplar.’

Teddy Baldock mobbed by fans on his wedding day (image: The Daily Sketch, via London Ex-Boxer's Association).

Teddy mobbed by fans on his wedding day (image: The Daily Sketch, via London Ex-Boxer’s Association).

However, after suffering injury to his hand in the ring, the young boxer’s luck quickly began to diminish.

Although he managed to forge a second career as a bookmaker, Teddy had a generous nature which was exploited as he gave away thousands of pounds to people whom he thought were friends.

During WWII the former boxer served with the RAF. Whilst he was away, his finances suffered further as a number of properties he’d invested in back in London were destroyed by air-raids.

As the years progressed, Teddy began to drink and gamble heavily. His marriage collapsed and by the time he died in March 1971, Teddy was penniless and long forgotten, an elderly vagrant shivering out his final days on cruel streets and in stinking doss-houses.

In recent years, Teddy’s legacy has been revived with the publication of a biography and a campaign by his grandson, Martin Sax to have a statue erected.

Sculpture of Teddy in his prime.

Sculpture of Teddy in his prime.

After a successful campaign to raise funds, Martin’s dream has thankfully come to fruition.

Sculpted by Carl Payne, Teddy’s tribute will stand outside Langdon Park Community Sports College, Hay Currie Street where it is hoped it will inspire local youngsters. The site holds extra importance in that the college stands on the site of Teddy’s former childhood home.

Minature of Teddy's Statue (image: London Ex-Boxer's Association).

Minature of Teddy’s Statue (image: London Ex-Boxer’s Association).

The unveiling is scheduled to take place between 3-6pm on May 16th 2014 and at the time of writing, actor Ray Winstone (himself a boxer in his younger days) is pencilled in to do the honours. Photos will appear on this site after the event if you can’t make it!

A detailed account of Teddy’s life can be found on his grandson Martin’s excellent website. Please click here for the link.

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

Candid Capital: Victoria Rainbow

Victoria Rainbow

Victoria Rainbow

A fountain in the East End’s Victoria Park casts a small rainbow on a beautiful Autumn morning, September 2013.