A walk around Whitechapel
From Aldgate East up Whitechapel Road.
Every obviously Asian or Somali woman is in hijab. One in three women wears a niqab. I did see one young girl tear off her niqab, the sort that tie over the headscarf, and giggle as she turned the corner and was out of sight of the Mosque.
A quarter of the men, even some boys of maybe 8 are in pyjama or kurta.
Only the Blind Beggar is still operating as a conventional pub - they must be kept afloat on the tourist trade. There are a few trendy bars, the rest are now a shoe shop, a halal fast chicken joint, a haji agent, or demolished.
Whitechapel Road used to be dominated by the London Hospital (now the Royal London) which you will know from the excellent Casualty 2007/8/9 series starrring Cherie Lungie as Matron Eva Luckes. The Matrons Arms is the Halal Fast food fried chicken shop now. The sign remains, painted plain black.
Seen from the bus you don't realise quite how large the East London Mosque complex is. You have to walk round it to realise how many streets, shops and houses it has swallowed.
I have written before about the old Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue which remains in the street behind the mosque. There an aging Jewish congregation continues to worship, while the Mosque committee, although they say otherwise, covets the land for further expansion.
A Funeral directors has recently been demolished next to the synagogue. This land is to be redeveloped into a 9 (yes nine) story building to provide extra prayer space for men and women, a gym, a girls school, new premises for the funeral directors, all accessable through either the Mosque or the London Muslim Centre which is the other side of the Synagogue. These are the plans.
The Whitechapel Bell Foundry was built in 1570.
The Synagogue was built in 1899.
There was a Mosque in Whitechapel from about 1942 for use of seamen passing through London Docks - the present World Domination Society building was started in 1982. They do broadcast the call to prayer but I didn't hear it this afternoon.
The pictures explain better.
The front of the Mosque on Whitechapel Road. The white building towards the right is the London Islamic Centre. The block of flats at the far right is Mosque Towers, sheltered housing for 'Asian and Somali elders'. The convienience of being near the mosque, communal prayer room if you don't want to walk even that far, culturally relevant activities, about which more later.
The Great Synagogue from the front entrance. Mosque dome and builders vans to the right of the picture.
The Great Synagogue from further down Fieldgate Street looking west.The rear entrance to the London Islamic Centre is immediately behind, further behind that is Mosque Tower (with its own dome!)
Posted outside Mosque Tower - join the March for Sharia on 31 October. I suppose bingo, much enjoyed by elders of other religions, is haram.
Having seen the site for the first time in several years I have nothing but respect for the members of the Great Synagogue for their fortitude. May they still be there in worship on their 200th anniversary.
Posted on 10/19/2009 3:36 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
20 Oct 2009
Well the Fieldgate Synagogue closed in 2007 and I think there have only been one or two services there since.
As for pubs - or lack of them, blame the brewers, cheap supermarket booze and stratified drinking, but the Blind Beggar isn't the only pub on Whitechapel Rd, there's the Grave Maurice, Indo, the old London Hospital Tavern, plus two or three others,and you can brave crossing Cambridge Heath Rd and go to Murphy's, the 45 and pub crawl all down the Mile End Road, which half of London seems to do every Friday night..
21 Oct 2009
I said conventional, traditional pubs.
There are still indeed a few places serving alcohol, like the Urban Cuban poker bar in the LHT and we both neglected to mention the Nags Head, now a 'Gentlemen's Venue'
And the reasons for the decline in numbers everywhere is due in part, to the other factors you mention.
But the fact remains that there are far fewer PUBS than just 20 years ago when members of my family had their business in the market.
The Great Synagogue is not closed and has plans for future worship and the education of our young. Tales of its demise in 2007 were premature.