London's East End Synagogues, cemeteries and more......

My personal journey through the Jewish East End of London


Jewish Walking tours with Phil - explore your Jewish roots
If you would like me to give you a guided walking tour of the Jewish East End of London or perhaps of Jewish Soho in the West End of London, please get in touch: Phil  Read more about my tours here

A letter from Andy Boxer that I liked so much its onits own own page.....Stoke Newington....the Spanish Civil War.....the Krays etc.

Dear Phil,

I have just come across your wonderful website in the course of doing some research into the East End of my parents (and my own childhood). I very much enjoyed making my way through the articles and memories within your site, and marvel at the hours of labour that you must devote to its maintenance. Long may it continue.

My connection with the East End is through my father, Sydney (Shlomo) Boxer, one of four children of an East European emigrant family. I recall my father telling me of his father's ownership of grocer's shops specialising in eggs, in Ridley Road and, I believe, Stamford Hill.

My father attended the Central Foundation School in Cowper Street; his parents were very friendly with the parents of Jacob Bronowski, who was a year or two above him at the school. My father often used to tell me of times when he would do his homework at the the Bronowskis', under the supervision of Mrs.Bronowski.

I was born at 97 Evering Road, Stoke Newington, where I lived until the age of 6. This is my only claim to fame as the Kray twins murdered Jack McVitie in what had been our basement scullery ( albeit around 9 years after we moved away!). Some vivid memories of my childhood remain: of being walked by my mother on an almost daily basis to Ridley Road market; of the barrels of pickles and zinc baths of live eels outside shops on Stamford Hill; having lunch during school holidays at Shacklewell Lane School (though I actually attended Bethnal Road School), and, peculiarly, of seeing a live hippopotamus exhibited at what I think was an Easter fairground in Lea Bridge Road!

Our closest friends in Stoke Newington were Fred and Sadie Thomas (nee Schwartz), who remained close until their respective deaths during the past ten years. They were both involved in the Battle of Cable Street and Fred subsequently went to Spain to join the International Brigade. He was a member of the British anti-tank battalion, whose members included Miles Tomalin, father of the author, Clare Tomalin. Sadie's younger brother, Max Nash, was killed during the crossing of the Ebro. When they finally revisited Spain after the death of Franco - accompanied by a BBC camera team - Sadie was shown by another Ebro veteran the place where her brother died. Fred subsequently wrote ' to Tilt at Windmills' - his memories of the Civil War, which were based, uniquely, on the meticulous diaries that he kept throughout his participation. These are now housed in the Imperial War Museum archive together with a series of taped interviews relating to his experiences. Having returned from Spain, Fred trained as a teacher and taught firstly, at Northwold Road School, and subsequently at Upton House Secondary School in Homerton Row, when he became head of the English department. Among his pupils were Arnold Wesker and Gerry Gable (editor of Searchlight), who on one occasion bailed Fred out of police custody following an anti-Mosley demonstration!

Apologies for these rather rambling memories - I'm in 'stream-of-consciousness' mode.

Best wishes,

Andy Boxer

Twitter: @Philslondon

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