Two dock workers pause for a chat and a smoke in the dock area of Wapping , East London , with a backdrop of funnels and masts and wartime bomb damage 1948. TopFoto / Retronaut / mediadrumimages.com

By Mark McConville

 

LONDONERS have been captured displaying that famous ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ attitude in post-war Wapping, that was heavily bombed in the Blitz.

A street view of the historic public house , ‘ The Prospect of Whitby ‘ which is on the banks of the River Thames at Wapping Wall , East London . 1948.
TopFoto / Retronaut / mediadrumimages.com

 

The incredible images, as revealed on the website Retronaut, from 1948 show the people of Wapping getting on with their lives as their community has to be built up again from the rubble.

Stylish headgear being worn by two East End young ladies waiting outside St Peter ‘ s Church , London Dock , Wapping , with their friends . 1948.
TopFoto / Retronaut / mediadrumimages.com

 

Striking pictures show dock workers pausing for a chat and a smoke with a backdrop of funnels and masts and wartime bomb damage, the construction of new buildings to replace those lost to the bombing and children looking after the flowers in the garden at St Peter’s Church.

A mother with her little girl in Wapping , Docklands , East London 1948.
TopFoto / Retronaut / mediadrumimages.com

 

Other stunning shots show children processing down Wapping High Street, East London, during the St Peter’s Day celebrations, a band of young boys are armed to the teeth with toy bows and arrows off to play ‘Robin Hood and his Merry Men’ and a family of three generations of East Londoners – a grandmother, her daughter and her small children, peering cheerfully through their window.

A mother with her little girl in Wapping , Docklands , East London 1948.
TopFoto / Retronaut / mediadrumimages.com

 

On the north bank of the Thames, at the heart of London’s Docklands, sits the ancient area of Wapping. The construction of docks at Wapping was completed in 1815, replacing many of the area’s houses and wharves.

The children of St Peter ‘ s London Docks School , Wapping , East London , enjoying playing in their playground . Masts and funnels of ships in the docks peep over the rooftops overshadowing the playground . 1948.
TopFoto / Retronaut / mediadrumimages.com

 

The Blitz of WWII devastated Wapping including extensive damage to the church of St Peter. Father Fox, the parish priest, campaigned vigorously to have the church restored, and the work was completed within four years. Wapping’s children celebrated St Peter’s Day on June 29th, 1948, with a parade through the specially decorated streets.

Mothers with their children gather outside St Peter ‘ s Church , London Dock , Wapping , as they wait for the procession to be organised for the St Peter ‘ s day celebrations 1948.
TopFoto / Retronaut / mediadrumimages.com

 

Working on the docks was insecure and poorly paid for many.  Although new modern housing was constructed to replace buildings lost in the War, poverty returned in the 1960s with the inexorable closure of the docks.  The arrival of the global containerisation system relied on ships too large to navigate the Thames as far as Wapping.

Meeting in a church graveyard this band of young boys are armed to the teeth teeth with toy bows and arrows and are off to play ‘ Robin Hood and his Merry Men ‘ . Wapping , East London . 1948.
TopFoto / Retronaut / mediadrumimages.com

 

A small number of physical features have survived both the 1815 redevelopment and the Blitz – the old steps down to the edge of the Thames, and the pub, ‘The Prospect of Whitby’, which backs onto the edge of the river.  Today, the warehouses have become apartments.

East Enders . A family of three generations of East Londoners – a grandmother her daughter and her small children peer cheerfully through their window . Wapping , East London . 1948.
TopFoto / Retronaut / mediadrumimages.com

 

For more information see www.retronaut.com

 

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