Jews, a Bishop and the Sally Army

Jews, a Bishop and the Sally Army: Continuing my walk in October 1988 around Clapton – the previous pos was Hats, Bags, Passports, Mansions, Biocrin & Hollywood.

Jewish Free School,  Lea Bridge Road, Clapton, Hackney, 1988 88-10b-41-Edit_2400
Jewish Free School, Lea Bridge Road, Clapton, Hackney, 1988 88-10b-41

The Jewish presence in Hackney dates back to the late 17th century and grew greatly in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and by the 1950s it was said to have the largest and densest Jewish population in the country. Many were supporters of the Labour party and local councillors and leaders, and among former Jewish Free School pupils is Labour life peer Maurice Glasman, Baron Glasman. Other well-known Jewish people who grew up in Clapton include Helen Shapiro, Harold Pinter, Lord Levy and Lord Sugar. Since the 1970s the area has been home to a fast growing ultra orthodox community.

The Clapton Jewish Day School was established next to the synagogue in Lea Bridge Road in 1956, though these splendid gates may be older. The school moved to Cazenove Road in 1973 as the voluntary aided Simon Marks Jewish Primary School and is the only remaining mixed Jewish school in inner London.

Clapton Federation Synagogue, Lea Bridge Road, Clapton, Hackney, 1988  88-10b-43-Edit_2400
Clapton Federation Synagogue, Lea Bridge Road, Clapton, Hackney, 1988 88-10b-43

Clapton Federation Synagogue or Sha’are Shomayim (Gates of Heaven) was founded in 1919 by Elias Ephraim Frumkin (1880-1958) whose family were well-known East End wine merchants Frumkin & Co. In 1932 the synagogue moved into this fine Art Deco new building by architect Marcus Kenneth Glass with a polychrome facade and mosaics at 47 Lea Bridge Rd. In 2005 the congregation moved out to hold its services in the Springfield Synagogue on Upper Clapton Road. Attempts to have the building listed unfortunately failed and it was demolished in 2006, replaced by a rather ugly large block of flats.

The Frumkin family had settled in Whitechapel around 1893, and opened a shop the following year selling Kosher wines on the corner of Commercial Road and Cannon Street Road. Elias, the son of the founder developed the Cherry Brandy for which the company became famous. The firm which supplied wine for many weddings and Bar Mitzvahs later opened branches in Edgware and the West End but finally closed in 1997.

Bishop Wood's Almshouses, Lower Clapton Rd, Lower Clapton, Hackney, 1988 88-10b-44-Edit_2400
Bishop Wood’s Almshouses, Lower Clapton Rd, Lower Clapton, Hackney, 1988 88-10b-44

This is said to be Hackney’s oldest building. These Grade II listed almshouses facing Clapton Pond were opened in 1665 by Dr Thomas Wood, who had been born in Hackney, to provide homes for 10 poor elderly widows over the age of 60 years. In 1671 Wood was made Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, but he preferred to stay living at home in Hackney and was eventually suspended as Bishop in 1684.

A very small chapel, with just 10 seats for the widows was added in 1845, and the almhouses refurbished in 1888, then in 1930 converted by the trustees into five self-contained apartments with separate facilities. After being requisitioned in World War II they reopened in 1948, and were further refurbished in 1985. Around 2010 the trustees decided that they were too expensive to maintain and bring up to modern standards and moved the residents to refurbished almshouses nearby in 2013. The buildings were put up for sale.

Lower Clapton Rd, Lower Clapton, Hackney, 1988 88-10b-46-Edit_2400
Lower Clapton Rd, Lower Clapton, Hackney, 1988 88-10b-46

Pond House at 162 Lower Clapton Rd was clearly not in the best of condition when I photographed it in 1988, despite having been Grade II* listed back in 1951. It has this fine semicircular Doric porch and was built in a Greek Revivial style for City stockbroker Benjamin Walsh between 1802 and 1803. Walsh became an MP in 1808 to escape bankruptcy proceedings but had to sell the house in 1809. He was expelled from the Stock Exchange and convicted of felony after defrauding a fellow MP of £22,000 but was pardoned for dubious reasons.

In 1877 it changed from a family house to a Girl’s school which closed in 1904, and it then became a clothing factory. In 1939 it became a social club for volunteers in the Hackney Rifle Regiment, who made several alterations and repairs causing it to be placed on English Heritage’s At Risk register. The social club sold it for development in 2008.

After a two rejected planning applications it was finally redeveloped by One Housing Group with four homes in the main building and it looks in fine condition as pictures on the The Clapton Pond Neighbourhood Action Group web site show.

Former Salvation Army HQ, Congress Hall, Linscott Rd, Lower Clapton, Hackney, 198 88-10b-31-Edit_2400
Former Salvation Army HQ, Congress Hall, Linscott Rd, Lower Clapton, Hackney, 198 88-10b-31

You can still see the shell of the former London Orphan Asylum dating from around 1823 by William Southcote Inman. The orphanage moved to Watford in 1867. In 1882 it became the the Salvation Army’s Congress Hall with a meeting hall built in what had been an open courtyard that could seat 4,700. Until 1929 it also housed the Salvation Army’s training college with accomodation for 150 men and 150 women. Congress Hall closed in 1970 and the building was acquired by Hackney Council, who demolished most of the building in 1976 to build Clapton Girl’s School on the site, leaving only the west portico and its flanking colonnades standing.

Former Salvation Army HQ, Congress Hall, Linscott Rd, Lower Clapton, Hackney, 198 88-10b-34-Edit_2400
Former Salvation Army HQ, Congress Hall, Linscott Rd, Lower Clapton, Hackney, 198 88-10b-34

In 2003 permission was granted for a rear extension and use by The Learning Trust Hackney as the Portico City Learning Centre, with work costing £1.9m supported by a Heritage Lottery Grant which restored the deteriorating structure. You can read a recent detailed heritage statement on the Hackney Council web site.

Lower Clapton Rd, Lower Clapton, Hackney,  1988 88-10b-24-Edit_2400
Lower Clapton Rd, Lower Clapton, Hackney, 1988 88-10b-24

A showroom wall display of spraying equipment somewhere on the Lower Clapton Road, between Linscott Road and Clapton Passage. There seemed to me a certain surreal quality to the display of around seventeen near identical spray guns.

My walk will continue in a later post. You can click on any of the images to go to larger images in my album 1988 London Photos, from where you can browse the album. The images in this post, but not in album, are displayed in the order they were taken on my walk.


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