Historians delved into East End’s secrets as Tower Hamlets opens its archives

Archivist helping reader explore unique collection

Archivist helping reader explore unique collection - Credit: TH Archive

Historians have been delving into the secrets of London’s East End with a vengeance after the local history library opened the doors of its archives.

Wax seal of property deed in Lamb Alley, Whitechapel, 1724

Wax seal of property deed in Lamb Alley, Whitechapel, 1724 - Credit: TH Archive

Enthusiasts and students of history poured into Tower Hamlets Local History Library at Mile End for the open weekend.

The library was reopened this year after its £1.5 million refurbishment — four years after a campaign launched by the East London Advertiser to save the Archives from being broken up and the Victorian building sold off.

Archivists were on hand to help visitors explore the unique collection, housed in the former Mile End Old Town municipal vestry hall opened in Bancroft Road in the 19th century.

The library has 250,000 items, much of it locked away in temperature-controlled store-rooms.

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These include plans dating back to the 14th century, photographs going back 150 years, illustrations, books, pamphlets, maps, parchment property deeds from the Georgian era, bound volumes of Victorian committee minutes and local newspapers and oral recordings from waves of different immigrants down the years.

The collection is reputed to be London’s best local municipal archive outside the cities of London and Westminster

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