Tuesday 24 November 2020

The other "137 Houndsditch" - Stephan Goldner's Factory revealed.


My previous post concerning the Nag's Head pub was something of a tinned herring - an appetiser intended to gently tease the readership' historical palate and leave them hungry for more. I hope it did that! Now look closely at the map above. Starting from the street outside number 137 Houndsditch, the Nag's Head, you can go through the wood ceiling-ed passage into Cock and Hoop Yard. Continuing on to the end, the number 137 appears again. This "137 Houndsditch" really is Goldner's establishment although by 1889, the date of this map, it is M'Call's Preserved Provision Warehouse. A quadrangle of buildings roughly 110 feet square, with the central courtyard covered over by a glased roof, it has by far the largest footprint of any property in the block.

The map is extracted from  Insurance Plan of City of London Vol. III: sheet 71 courtesy of the British Library.



This slightly earlier map (above) depicts the area as Goldner knew it. It shows the mid nineteenth century layout prior to the extension of the Metropolitan Railway to Aldgate in the 1870s. The quadrangle lies between Houndsditch, which follows the line of the wall of Roman Londinium, and New Middlesex Street, formerly Petticoat Lane, which is the boundary of the City of London. An article in The Builder periodical from February 1872 entitled Homes in the East of London: Jew and Christians, gives a flavour, or perhaps more accurately, a whiff of the vile stench, of the neighbourhood.

This aerial view brings home the relative proximity of Goldner's factory to the heart of the City of London. It is a sobering juxtaposition - the wealth of City institutions and individuals side by side with the grinding poverty and squalor of the poor neighbourhoods of the vicinity. A further twist is that prior to the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834, the buildings which became Goldner's factory had been home to the parish workhouse of St Botolph's Aldgate. The new law allowed individual parishes to pool their resources resulting in the much larger Union workhouses with a distinctly harsher regime than the version of Christian charity previously dispensed by the parishes. Houndsditch, for all its dead-dog associations, is one of the main thoroughfares of the City so for commercial purposes the address of 137 Houndsditch has a certain cachet. To locals the address was simply "Aldgate old workhouse".

Next: A visit (or three) to Goldner's factory.

Comments welcome here or the Rembering the Franklin expedition Facebook page.


  1. Congrats on your great research, Peter !

    With a glassed roof over the actual factory location -I can well imagine that in the 1840s - that Goldner's workers did their work by sunlight or lanterns. And if the days were dark in the Spring of 1845, could that be a reason for the delay in Goldner filling the orders for the Franklin expedition ?

  2. Thanks! I'm sure they had gas lighting which was efficient enough. Not sure when that courtyard was covered over - it may have been open in Goldner's day.

  3. My Great Great grandparents Joseph and Sarah Brewer lived at 137 at the end of cock and hoop yard and I belive ran the pub, The Nags Head, where they had 6 children inclusing my great grandmother Lilian. I am interested to find out more about the area which was before it is n0w and found your post.

    1. Always good to hear of family connections. It's amazing to think of the world our ancestors lived in and how it is different to ours in many ways.


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