Whitechapel Tube, Whitechapel Road exit | Map
Short version: Frontline London – the only neighbourhood the government feared.
Long version: Down and out London, it was the worst slum in Europe. Paradoxically it was also London at its richest! Richest in terms of its artistic expression and social ferment and human mix. It's the London of revolution (we'll see the building where Lenin, Trotsky, Gorky and Stalin touched down); of sieges and battles; of Isaac Rosenberg and Mark Gertler; of the greatest Indian poet of them all; of the Liberty Bell (and Bi-Centenary Bell) foundry; of the Krays and the Elephant Man; of the best ethnic restaurants in London; of the 13th-century White Chapel and synagogues and mosques. And astonishingly – despite the attentions of the Luftwaffe – much of the "fabric" is still there. Best of all, it's "real people's London" – and they're still there, too. Guided by Harry.
In the Winter 2018-19 London Walks programme – which kicks in on November 1 and runs through April 30 – The Unknown East End Walk takes place on the first Sunday of every month* at 2 pm. Meet Adam, Andy R., Steve or Matthew just outside the Whitechapel Road exit of WhitechapelTube. N.B. the Walk ends on the corner of Fournier and Commercial Streets, which is convenient for Liverpool Street Station and Aldgate EastTube and Spitalfields Market.
"London Walks was the first – and is the best – of the walking tour firms" Fodor's Great Britain
"Best City Walk The Unknown East End, London. Explore the paradoxical nature of London’s East End: once the worst slum in Europe, but now one of the richest areas in terms of artistic expression." The Telegraph
"See the East End with an Expert. Harry is one of the best tour guides I've ever met. Sunday afternoon we joined his tour of the East End and learned about the lives of the waves of immigrant groups who have called this area home, These cost-effective tours really are a good way to get to know a city, its history, its people, its architecture, sites of note, and so on. I will plan to take at least one of their tours whenever I am in London." Iranewyorkparis New York City, New York
"I've lived in London a long time before leaving to live in Brighton but I HAVE to tell you about this tour - it is fantastic! I learnt so much about this fabulous part of London. Our guide was fabulous, SO knowledgeable and friendly. The tour goes through some of the most fantastic places in the East End of London. My fellow tourists were both local as well as from elsewhere and we all enjoyed it so much! It was also incredibly reasonable. You need to be happy to walk for 2 hours, but my gosh does the time fly - we just didn't want it to end. This company do various tours, this one was just fantastic! Going through Spitalfields and Brick Lane this is an essential East End gem! I RECOMMEND it to Londoners and foreigners alike! You'll come away with a new view of this part of London!" Laura A. Brighton, U.K.
"The Unknown East End My favourite. It is guided by Harry and covers all sorts including successive waves of immigration, radical politics of all shades and the Elephant Man. It isn't the prettiest part of London but is one of the most interesting." David Basingstoke, England
"We live outside London and were spending a "tourist in your own city"- weekend and found the leaflet the day before, so we didn't know much about the London Walks. We just showed up at Whitechapel Tube station and so was about 20 others. Harry knew what he was talking about! He told interesting stories, he answered all kinds of questions from us, and he was very knowledgeable about the past and present of the area. He often added a personal touch, adding his family-stories in, and that made the walk truly enjoyable." Frodefox Teddington, United Kingdom
Here's a 3-minute clip from the Travel & Transitions shoot of The Unknown East End Walk.
"Men who learned their first lessons about poverty at Toynbee Hall went on to help reshape 20th century Britain. They included the great imperialist Alfred Milner, the socialist and historian R. H. Tawney (one of the creators of the Workers' Educational Association), the very influential editor of the liberal Westminster Gazette J. A. Spender, the economist and civil servant William Beveridge (whose contribution to the development of social insurance and the modern welfare state is unequalled), the brilliant civil servant and educational reformer Robert Morant (the key figure in the development of state education), the future Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee, the social investigator and great civil servant Hubert Llewellyn Smith (the creator of the 1911 Unemployment Insurance Act and, with Beveridge, of Labour Exchanges)." Stephen Inwood
"The further we penetrated into this Whitechapel, the more our hearts sank. Was this London? Never in Russia, never later in the worst slums of New York, were we to see such poverty as in the London of the 1880s." Yiddish theatre actor Jacob Adler, writing of the period 1883-1884
If you can't make one of the regularly scheduled, just-turn-up, public Unknown East End walks do think about booking one as a private tour. If you go private you can have the Unknown East End Walk – or any other London Walk – on a day and at a time that suits your convenience. We'll tailor it to your requirements. Ring Fiona or Noel or Mary on 020 7624 3978 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll set it up and make it happen for you. A private London Walk – they're good value for an individual or couple and sensational value for a group – makes an ideal group or educational or birthday party or office (team-building) or club outing.
A private London Walk makes a marvellous (and unusual) gift – be it a birthday or anniversary or Christmas present or whatever. Merchandise schmerchandise (gift wrapped or not) – but giving someone an experience, now that's special. Memories make us rich.
"Nah, don't need it, got it all here," you say. Er, roaming charges? Er, dead battery? Er, reading your phone in the bathtub and you drop it? [Smelling salts interval: sick as a parrot. ashen-faced.] Er, read the famous white leaflet in the bathtub and you drop it what do you do? Er, you dry it out. Anyway, maybe worth making a mental note that you can always pick up the famous white London Walks leaflet at the Cafe in the Crypt at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, the old church in Trafalgar Square. They're on the Information Table there, right by the box office. And indeed they also display them on the shop counter, right by the cash register. And it's win-win because the Cafe in the Crypt is one of the town's delights. Should be on everybody's London itinerary.