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East Ham

In 1898 East Ham Urban District Council decided to collect all its civic buildings together on one site, the result being the four grand structures, each with a terrific display of external terracotta, standing at the junction of Barking Road and High Street South. The first to be put up was East Ham Town Hall (1901-3), designed by Henry Cheers, who specialised in municipal buildings, and Joseph Smith. Its dominant feature is an elaborate clock tower around 150’ in height, and the pale red terracotta was supplied by Doulton’s. Next to be built was the Technical College (1903-4, Cheers & Smith), which also used Doulton’s terracotta; Maw’s provided some internal faience decoration designed by John Windsor Bradburn, then the head of the firm’s faience department.[1] The Library, an extension of the Town Hall which opened in 1908, was designed by A. H. Campbell, the borough engineer. Here, and in the Fire Station (1913, now offices), by the borough surveyor J. E. W. Birch, the buff terracotta came from Gibbs & Canning.


The former St Mark’s Church (1860-2, S. S. Teulon), Connaught Road, was one of a series of 1860s churches in which architects experimented with the use of terracotta in the context of the gothic revival. Its interior is lined with hollow, interlocking blocks of pale buff terracotta which also feature on the polychromatic exterior. The church was gutted by fire in 1984; its restoration was completed in 1989 using terracotta blocks from Shaws of Darwen. The church is now a theatre and is home to Brick Lane Music Hall.


Mary I (1516-58), a catholic, was Queen of England during 1553-8. She attempted to return the country to catholicism and was committed to burning protestants for heresy; on her orders, eleven men and two women were burnt to death at a single stake in Stratford on the 27th June 1556 for their protestant beliefs. This event was commemorated in 1878-9 by the erection of the Martyrs’ Memorial, which stands towards the south end of St John’s churchyard on the Broadway. The 65’ high hexagonal terracotta column is in gothic style and was designed by the London architect John T. Newman (Fig 175). It was built by H. Johnson & Co of Ditchling, East Sussex, who also manufactured the fine buff terracotta, which has hardly weathered and carries impressively crisp lettering; every full stop is a miniature cylinder of terracotta. Johnson’s, who were active from the 1870s, made terracotta, bricks, tiles and pottery, and also had a works a mile west of Ditchling at the brickmaking centre of Keymer (West Sussex). The firm was present at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876.

Stratford’s High Street runs south-west of the Broadway. Essex House, at 375-7 High Street, has good late Victorian terracotta including two large salmon-pink figurative panels and three griffins on its parapet. Much further south, at 137 High Street (near the junction with Hunts Lane), is a late 1960s factory designed by the architect Desmond C. Skells; on its facade is a Carter’s tile panel measuring about 8’ long by 4’ high which shows a cheerful Dalmatian dog.


1.^         Lezli Richer, 'Training for Industrial Design and the Decline of Maw & Co', Glazed Expressions, (1996) 33, pp3-5.

The Tile Gazetteer is Copyright © 2005 Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society and Lynn Pearson, Richard Dennis.