Search

East End man of history calls it a day

PUBLISHED: 16:08 08 October 2010

Historian Chris Lloyd this week retired after 30 years service at Tower Hamlet's Council's Local History Library and Archives

Historian Chris Lloyd this week retired after 30 years service at Tower Hamlet's Council's Local History Library and Archives

Archant

OVER the past three decades historian Chris Lloyd has helped countless East Enders trace their family tree, often with emotional results.

OVER the past three decades historian Chris Lloyd has helped countless East Enders trace their family tree, often with emotional results.

From ancestors dating back hundreds of years to absent parents who lived down the road, Chris has always been the go-to man for family history.

But after 30 years service Chris, 59, this week bid farewell to the Local History and Archives Department he helped set up.

He spoke to the Advertiser about his time at the department, based at Bancroft Library in Mile End.

“Family tree research takes up about 50 per-cent of our work,” Chris said, adding: “It can be very difficult tracing people before 1837 – you need to check individual parish registers for births, deaths, baptisms. And the handwriting is quite difficult to understand.”

Chris was born in Hackney and admits he knows the East End like the back of his hand.

“I think it’s very stimulating listening to some of the visitors delve into records they’ve never used before,” he said.

“People who look at those registers do become quite emotional. They’re piecing together their personal history.

“Sometimes people come in who have adoptive parents and I help them look through the electoral register. They want to know where their real parents were living at the time. It helps them to understand where they came from.”

Chris, a co-author of five historical books on the East End, counts Stan Rondeau as one of his success stories. Stan came to the library hoping to trace his family tree. With the help of Chris he discovered they had been French Huguenots who settled in east London in the 17th Century, running the Christ Church Spitalfields.

Stan was so moved by the discovery he began running guided tours of the church – which he has done for the last ten years.

Retired Chris now plans to pursue his own historical hobby – the former Bethnal Green Allinson’s bread mill.

Founder Dr Thomas Allinson had believed patients could be cured by diet and in the 1890s set up a wholemeal bread mill in Bethnal Green, where it remained until the 1970s.

Chris has been researching Dr Allinson’s work in alternative medicines over the last 20 years and hopes to one day publish a book of his findings.

He said: “When you learn about the past it helps you make decisions about the future.”

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the East London Advertiser

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists