Cat Woman of Stepney shares her 90th birthday with the Queen
PUBLISHED: 07:00 21 April 2016
The ‘Cat Woman of Albert Gardens’ shares her 90th birthday with the Queen, but with a slight difference—Peggy Evans is getting ready for her birthday bash at care home in London’s East End where she now lives.
Many folk in Stepney will remember Peggy as the woman who took in stray cats off the street when she lived in Albert Gardens, off the Commercial Road.
“She was known as the Cat Woman in the neighbourhood,” Peggy’s daughter Carole Wheateley recalls.
“Children would bring her strays they found in the street and she would get them all rehomed.
“She also had a rescue dog called Lucky which found a litter of kittens left abandoned a car boot under the railway arch in Watney Market while they were out walking.
“Mum took care of the cats and got them all rehomed, but kept the runt of the litter herself.”
Tiddles the runt later hit the headlines in the East London Advertiser with Peggy, some 15 years ago, when it plunged into the nearby Regent’s Canal and had to be rescued by the London Fire Brigade!
Peggy was educated at English Martyrs RC elementary school in Tower Hill during the Depression of the 1930s.
But the coming of the Second World War interrupted her education and she was evacuated to Suffolk.
She returned to the East End after the war and at 19 married demobbed Bill Evans to raise three children, while also working in the rag trade as a machinist before getting a job at the Post Office and later with BT.
Peggy retired in 1986 when she devoted her time to her animals, usually rescuing neighbourhood strays and campaigning fore animal welfare.
As the nation celebrates the Queen’s birthday today (Thurs), staff and residents at the Hawthorn Green care home in Stepney Green get ready for Peggy’s birthday reunion with her three children, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild who’s just two.
The East End has been Peggy’s life, born by the London Docks in June, 1926, just weeks after Princess Elizabeth.
But the two grew up in very different circumstances—Peggy the daughter of a docker in a poor tenement off Cable Street, one of nine children, while Elizabeth spent her teens in Buckingham Palace, the daughter of a king.