11th December 2007
My journey begins at Whitechapel London Underground station on the East London tube line. It is the northmost station on the line. Not long ago this honour belonged to Shoreditch station which is now closed.
The line was first opened in 1869 when it was known as the East London Railway. In a matter of weeks on the 22nd December the whole line will close. In 2010 most of the stations on this line will re-open as part of the London Overground network.
There are eight stations on less than five miles of track for me to visit. On leaving the station I find myself in the East End of London. A market sellling clothes and other brick-a-brack is just outside the station.
The area is very working class. In the past it used to be a gangster’s hangout. I pass The Blind Beggar pub (337 Whitechapel Road) where in 1966 Ronnie Kray, one of the Kray twins, killed George Cornell who was a member of a rival gang. The only sign of a link between this pub and the Krays can be found on a sign advertising their outside seating area.
As I walk past the Royal London Hospital the Gherkin (The Swiss Re Tower) is visible on the horizon. There is a large amount of building work taking place at the hospital.
On Commercial Road and Cannon Street Road are plenty of local shops which look like they have seen better times.
On every council housing block in England you are guaranteed to find a window with an English flat hanging out of it. Here on Cable Street is one such instance. There’s some very impressive graffiti on the side of St. George’s town hall as well.
A short walk along Cable Street gets us to Shadwell Underground station.