Thrawl Street, E1

Road in/near Spitalfields, existing between 1656 and now

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Road · Spitalfields · E1 ·

Originally built by Henry Thrall (or Thrale) c.1656, Thrawl Street ran east-west from Brick Lane as far as George Street across a former tenter field owned by the Fossan brothers, Thomas and Lewis.

Charlotte De Rothschild Dwellings, Thrawl Street, from People Of The Abyss, 1902.
Most, if not all, of the properties on the street were timber-built and many were still standing as late as 1736. Little George (later Keate) Street was extended west from the junction of Thrawl and George Streets by the 1740s.

Between 1807-30, rebuilding leases were granted, but none seems to have taken place, although repairs were made albeit poorly done and Thrawl Street, like others in the neighbourhood, continued to deteriorate. It soon became known for its lodging houses and mean tenements and at this time was only joined to Commercial Street by Keate Street and then a narrow alleyway called Keate Court. This part was opened up c.1883 following the demolition of properties in readiness for the later construction of Charlotte De Rothschild Dwellings on the north side and Lolesworth Buildings to the south. Subsequently, Keate Street was renamed as part of Thrawl Street in 1884.

The model dwellings of Thrawl Street and the surrounding area were demolished 1973-80 and all that remains are some buildings at the Commercial Street end and the Frying Pan pub (now a restaurant) on the corner with Brick Lane. Officially, the street today is a winding road that curves around the Flower and Dean Estate (built 1982-4). Where Flower and Dean Walk emerges onto Wentworth Street stands one of the two arches that furnished the entrances to the Charlotte de Rothschild Dwellings courtyard. This particular arch is the one that originally stood on Thrawl Street and can be seen in its original position in a photograph taken for Jack London’s People Of The Abyss (1902).

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Charlotte De Rothschild Dwellings, Thrawl Street, from People Of The Abyss, 1902.
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Spitalfields is near to Liverpool Street station and Brick Lane.

The area straddles Commercial Street and is home to several markets, including the historic Old Spitalfields Market, and various Brick Lane Markets on Brick Lane and Cheshire Street. Petticoat Lane Market lies on the area's south-western boundaries.

The name Spitalfields appears in the form Spittellond in 1399; as The spitel Fyeld on the 16th-century Civitas Londinium map associated with Ralph Agas. The land belonged to St Mary Spital, a priory or hospital erected on the east side of the Bishopsgate thoroughfare in 1197, and the name is thought to derive from this. An alternative, and possibly earlier, name for the area was Lolsworth.

After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Spitalfields was inhabited by prosperous French Huguenot silk weavers. In the early 19th century their descendants were reduced to a deplorable condition due to the competition of the Manchester textile factories and the area began to deteriorate into crime-infested slums. The spacious and handsome Huguenot houses were divided up into tiny dwellings which were rented by poor families of labourers, who sought employment in the nearby docks.

The area has recently attracted a IT-literate younger population.
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