The Love Wapping History Team (Western Wapping Group) had a great start to their week with a chance encounter with Mark Andrew who lived in Wapping in the early 1960’s,
Our History Team encountered Mark early this morning outside the Turks Head as he parked his van up outside.
“I used to live there,” said Mark pointing to the top floor of the Turks Head. Mark’s father was the park keeper and his family had a flat in the building.
Born in 1960 Mark’s family lived in Wapping for many years then they moved to the Isle of Dogs and now he lives in Hornchurch.
A carpet fitter by trade Mark took a detour on the way to his current job, laying carpet in a swanky penthouse down by the Prospect of Whitby, to have a look at his old home.
Bomb sites as playgrounds
“It wasn’t a pub then, it was all offices,” said Mark. “Wapping was a lot smaller then too – areas like Kennett Street didn’t exist and all the warehouses by the river were empty so we used to play in them.”
There was also an abandoned air-raid shelter in St. John’s churchyard just opposite the Turks Head in Scandrett Street which Mark and his friends used to explore as well as the other bomb sites.
His description of Wapping in the 1960’s is not that different from the Wapping of 2016. There may be more flats, there may be less docks, but the community spirit seems identical.
In part this may be due to the continued presence of the church’s, Mark used to go to St. Peters London Docks during the time of Father Foizey and St. Patricks in Green Bank. Mark remembers the religious processions and was glad to know the still take place today.
Of course the main sense of community comes from the people who live here and families in particular who have made Wapping their home for generation after generation.
Mods and Rockers
There was more than a small amount of rivalry between the two subcultures. One of Mark’s brothers was a Mod and the other was a Rocker. Which no doubt made for some interesting conversations over dinner.
Even though not a pub at the time the Turks Head was still a meeting point and to keep Wapping nice and peaceful an agreement was made that the Mods would congregate on their scooters outside the Turks Head on one weekend and the Rockers would do the same on their British motor bikes the other weekend.
It was fascinating to talk to Mark and good to welcome a son of Wapping back to his roots. Let’s hope we seem him and his family again.
Just a reminder that it is the Wapping Shindig this Saturday 9th July on Wapping Green and one of the highlights will be Ray Newton’s history walks.