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Rose Henriques’ unique East End watercolours of the Blitz go on show

PUBLISHED: 19:09 28 November 2013 | UPDATED: 19:18 04 December 2013

Watney Street day after air raid, 1941

Watney Street day after air raid, 1941

TH Archive

A unique collection of watercolours showing Stepney at war and peace by the Jewish philanthropist Rose Henriques has gone on show this-evening in the heartland of London’s East End that she recorded over three decades.

The 'Tilbury' air raid shelter after being hit in an air-raidThe 'Tilbury' air raid shelter after being hit in an air-raid

Rose was an avid artist, serving on the board of the Whitechapel Gallery. Her collection focuses on the daily lives of ordinary people and the everyday landscapes from the Depression of the Thirties, through the Second World War and the early post-war rebuilding.

It is a record of three turbulent decades of everyday life in the former Stepney Metropolitan borough, which stretched from Whitechapel to Mile End and Limehouse.

Rose’s subjects included the clear-up and medical work of the Civilian Defence Service, the controversial air-raid shelter known as the Tilbury in Commercial Road and scenes of bombed out synagogues and churches.

She also painted everyday life at the Settlement itself, where she and her husband Sir Basil Henriques lived and worked.

Rose L. Henriques, Coronation in Challis Court, c. May 1937. Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives  © the artist's estateRose L. Henriques, Coronation in Challis Court, c. May 1937. Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives © the artist's estate

The Henriques founded St George’s Jewish Settlement in Betts Street in 1919 and went on to develop social welfare for the poor, such as youth clubs and washrooms which were open to Jews and non-Jews alike.

The Settlement expanded into its own premises in 1929 in Berner Street, today’s Henriques Street which was renamed in their honour.

Rose Henriques’ watercolour exhibition is being staged at Tower Hamlets Local History Library in Bancroft Road, the former Mile End Old Town municipal vestry hall, and runs until March.

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