Growing Up In Shoreditch

Rose shares her happy childhood memories from living on Curtain Road

My dad was George Frederick Johnson. He was an East End Man. He was born in Bethnal Green, lived all his life round there and then he met my mum, and they moved to Brick Lane. I think I was one year old when they moved down here to Curtain Road, to the Tenement flats. There was five of us, in the one flat. Five in the bed, and the little one said. On Saturdays, we used to walk up to Ironmonger Row baths for our weekly bath, and I still have nightmares about the bath cubicals! Awful things! We used to shout out ‘more hot in so and so’ and ‘more cold in so and so’ I’ll never forget that, with the towel under our arm.

It was happy memories. Friday night we always used to get sent down the pie shop, Manse’s down in Hoxton, to get pies for not just us but other people in the Tenement flats. Then I can remember the coronation when Dad dragged the old piano out into the street, we had a big street party, and my mum borrowed a velvet dress off somebody.

We were a very close community and I think we lost that when we were all split up. A lot of people went to Columbia road – they were offered new places there. I don’t know why we didn’t go there, but we went over to Stepney Green on our own, it was nice. First time we had a bathroom – seventeen before we had our own bathroom. But there you go, that’s life, isn’t it?

If you have a personal story or connection with the Town Hall please get in touch by emailing, calling 020 7739 6176 or writing to us at Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, London, EC1V 9LT.