Newsletter 2013

The East Ham depot and environs

Doug Taylor, d.taylor594 at

Doug Taylor has no connection with any Marconi company but knows the East Ham depot from his childhood there. He emailed Barry Powell last October with the following narrative and query.

Page11-Wakefield St 2-1

This question was raised through The Newham Story website forum when a member asked where the East Ham Palais de Danse was located. I think the question generated more interest from a single subject than I have known. Since the article was first posted on 7th October it has generated almost 80 comments from just over 500 views.

Many of us had never heard of the Palais de Danse until this week but we managed to establish reasonably quickly that the venue was used between 1921 and 1938 for Dancing and Boxing Tournaments. We also discovered that Mosley held a rally there in the late 1930s that attracted over 1000 people. So we were looking for something quite large. We did find a pointer that the building was situated in Wakefield Street and may have doubled as a Skating Rink.

I think we investigated the history of every building, including the market, in Wakefield Street from High Street North down to Katherine Road in an attempt to find the correct site although for most of us our own memories only went back to our childhood days of the 1950s. We looked at various OS maps produced over the years but could find nothing conclusive.

A couple of us remembered being told by our parents that there were ‘amusements’ in Wakefield Street prior to the 2nd World War where the Marconi Building stood but the sort of amusements were never investigated: however we decided to concentrate our efforts on that area.

Eventually someone produced an aerial photograph of the area taken in 1926 and I attach a copy as I feel that some of the Marconi veterans may be interested.

The church in the lower centre of the picture is what we now know as Wakefield Street Congregational Church which was bombed in 1940 and rebuilt on the same site in the 1950s. On the left of the church there is a large building which we have now discovered was the Palais de Danse and which probably suffered bomb damage at the same time as the church. Immediately above the Palais de Danse is the Marconi Building which Barry Powell advised was first occupied by Marconi in 1916, vacated after the 1940 bombing, but then repaired .enlarged and re-occupied post-war. The enlargement probably took over some of the area previously occupied by the Palais de Danse.
Immediately below the Palais de Danse is the Myrtle Road Entrance to East Ham Market and the market arcade that leads into Wakefield Street can also be seen to the left of the Palais de Danse.

The large building to the top right of the photograph is the auditorium of the Gaumont Cinema and you will note that the picture was taken before British Home Stores was built as Oak Hall can be seen on the corner of High Street North and Wakefield Street.

Although it is probable that many people who worked at the Marconi Building before the war have passed away I would be interested to know if any members of the Marconi Veterans have photographs or passed down memories of the pre-1940 building or photographs of the Post War enlarged building.