Pictures of old East End under auction for Bethnal Green’s war memorial

Tubby Isaac's jellied eel stall in Whitechapel

Tubby Isaac's jellied eel stall in Whitechapel - Credit: Stairway to Heaven Trust

Comedian John Ryan conducts an auction of historic photographs tomorrow (Thurs) showing how life used to be in London’s East End to help raise cash to finish a memorial to Britain’s worst wartime civilian disaster.

Tubby Isaac's jellied eel stall in Whitechapel

Tubby Isaac's jellied eel stall in Whitechapel - Credit: Stairway to Heaven Trust

The 6pm auction is being held at Bethnal Green library—just 200 yards from the narrow staircase leading down to a public shelter where 173 people were crushed to death during an air-raid alert in March, 1943.

It is organised by the Stairway to Heaven trust to help fundraising to complete a £400,000 memorial in Bethnal Green Gardens.

Coming under Ryan’s hammer are three of Fleet Street press photographer Mike Pattison’s black-and-white shots taken in the 1960s and 70s. They show Tubby Isaacs’ famous jellied eel stall in Whitechapel High Street, the Beigel Shop in Brick Lane and a watch seller in Cheshire Street.

There are also paintings, hand-painted china and other photographs on sale, viewing from 4pm.


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The memorial marks the tragedy on March 3, 1943, when men, women and children died trying to get down the narrow staircase to the incomplete Bethnal Green tube station which was being used as a public air-raid shelter. They included 60 children, five of them babies.

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