Remember Angel Lane...

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Angel Lane ran approximately north-south from Stratford Broadway. The map above shows the area around it as it would have been in the period from the second World War until the mid 1960’s. The Lane was the location for a regular street market. It was probably also known by many as the way leading to the Theatre Royal. Along with Western St and it surroundings, the Lane was demolished around 1970. About the only local landmarks from before 1970 which survive are Stratford Station (now much changed) and the Theatre Royal.

Cohen’s fish and chip shop was at the corner of Western St and Angel Lane. The chip shop was used for some scenes in the Joe Brown film, “What A Crazy World”. To get even more obscure during the second World War my step-brother, Alan, fell though the roof of Cohen’s because he’d been climbing over it as a kid. The result was a row between Cohen and our father that lasted for decades!

I’m not sure exactly which year the photos, below, were taken. It was probably around 1970. Whatever the year, by then most of buildings had been demolished leaving just a few scattered along the remains of Angel Lane.

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The photo above was taken looking north from the Broadway end of Angel Lane. By then all of the shops had ceased trading except Bill Pohl’s the butcher. Many traders resisted being driven out of the Lane as it had made them a good living as well as being their homes. But during the 1960’s and 1970’s the ‘planners’ simply wanted to erase all the old areas and bundle the people elsewhere as if they were cattle to be shifted. In the process often breaking up neighbours and dumping them in unfamiliar places. The new homes may have had advantages like indoor loos and even bathrooms, but the disruption to communities was a real problem that the planners in their distant offices ignored.

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The above photo shows a view looking south along Angel Lane towards The Broadway. At the end the Lane takes a slight bend to the left and you can see the bank at the far-right end of the Lane.

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Between Western and William Streets was a pub and a set of four shops. As a kid, the one I knew best was ‘Nichols’ sweet-shop! As well as sweets this was where I bought many comics. ‘Shingler’ was a second-hand shop on the corner of William St. This used to have things like used furniture inside. But so far as I recall I never actually went inside Shingler’s. My main interest was that it used to have a stall outside with paperbacks on sale for 6d each. That’s where I bought many of my first books. It was the closest we had to a bookshop, although sometimes one of the stalls in the Angel Lane street market also sold second hand books.

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The above gives a more general view of the row of shops that was between Western and William Streets. To the left of Nichols there had been a pub. This was set back from Angel Lane and was used for the indoor pub public house scenes in “Sparrows Can’t Sing”. However by the time these photos were taken everything in the street had been razed to the ground!

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Because the Theatre Royal is almost the only remaining landmark the above photo should give a clearer idea of where the shops and streets were located. The distant rooftop with attic windows which you can see between the theatre and shops was, I think, one of the buildings British Rail used as offices down near the Station at the far end of Western and William streets.

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As Bill Pohl was the last to leave I decided that a photo of his shop whilst it was still open was the best choice to end this webpage. I’ve not met any of the people who lived and worked on the Lane for many decades, so I can only hope they did well after we were scattered by the planners!

In later years the area seemed to be mainly be occupied by a multi-story car park and shopping center that reached out from the Broadway. But I think this was swept away in turn as the Olympics came and Stratford station turned into Stratford International! As a result what had replaced the area I knew was bulldozed in turn to make way for even newer buildings. By then the old spirit and community were long lost.

If you lived in Angel Lane or nearby and can provide any more information, please let me know and I can perhaps add more details! If you want to email me about this, please use my address given at the bottom of my main audiomisc page.

My thanks to John Scott who took the photos shown on this page.

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