East End pensioners born same year as Queen celebrate their 90th at Gateway Housing which is also 90!

PUBLISHED: 16:38 22 April 2016 | UPDATED: 16:38 22 April 2016

A party for 90-year-olds at Gateway Housing which was also 'born' in 1926

A party for 90-year-olds at Gateway Housing which was also 'born' in 1926


A social housing association in London’s deprived East End which also celebrated its 90th birthday the same time as the Queen invited all its tenants who are 90 for a birthday bash.

Among the 90-year-old is Irene Stride, widow of the late Rev Eddie Stride of SpitalfieldsAmong the 90-year-old is Irene Stride, widow of the late Rev Eddie Stride of Spitalfields

Those born the same year as the Queen when she was plain Princess Elizabeth arrived for a right old cockney knees-up at the offices of Gateway Housing the Mile End Road last night.

The organisation began in 1926 as the Bethnal Green Housing Association providing badly needed housing for the East End’s working class families during slum clearances of the 1920s and 30s.

“It’s quite special for a housing association to have been going for 90 years,” the organisation’s Eve McMahon said.

“We wanted to celebrate our East End roots and to mark the Queen’s birthday as the Royal family have shown support for us over the years.”

Enid Reef and Arthur France, two 90-year-olds both Bethnal GreenEnid Reef and Arthur France, two 90-year-olds both Bethnal Green

The royals have been popping in from time to time over the past nine decades when a new scheme has been opened.

But it was Neville Chamberlain when he was Housing Minister who opened its first social housing project, Queen Margaret Flats in Bethnal Green, in 1929, long before he became Prime Minister and a decade before he made Britain’s declaration of war on Hitler’s Germany.

Queen Margaret Flats is still owned and run by Gateway Housing, almost 90 years on.

The first royal visit was by the Duchess of York in 1935, who became Queen two years later, when George VI came to the throne, and later Queen Mother in 1952.

Terence McEvoy and Florence Kirk, 90-year-olds both from StepneyTerence McEvoy and Florence Kirk, 90-year-olds both from Stepney

The duchess opened St Hubert’s House built by the Isle of Dogs Housing Society, which was eventually merged with Bethnal Green Housing.

Prince Phillip visited Gateway’s Huddleston Close estate in Bethnal Green in 1992 and the Queen met Gateway tenants at Millwall’s Island Gardens in 2003, keeping up a royal link with the housing association back across the decades.

The 90-year-old tenants invited to Gateway’s celebrations yesterday included Irene Stride, widow of The Rev Eddy Stride from Spitalfields Church.

She played host to Princess Alexandria in November to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her late husband’s Crypt charity for the homeless that he set up in 1965. Irene arrived for Gateway’s birthday from her home in Millwall’s John Tucker House on the Isle of Dogs where she now lives.

Four others celebrating their 90th with her were Enid Reef and Arthur France from Bethnal Green, Florence Kirk and Terence McEvoy from Stepney.

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