Dr Hannah Hedwig Streisow
Receiving the Outstanding citizen award in 2001 from Newham Council, Hannah Hedwig Striesow (née Kohn) is still remembered for her services and dedication to the Newham Community. As one of the first female GPs to practise in Newham in 1950, and continuing to work tirelessly as a full-time Doctor until she was 81, Hedwig Striesow is a truly inspirational figure who defied the barriers of both age and gender.
Hannah Hedwig’s journey to success is truly remarkable.Growing up in northern Bavaria, her journey to becoming a doctor was by no means plain sailing- and yet this …
Mahinder Singh Puji
Mahinder Singh Pujji was born in Simla, in 1918 and became one of many Sikh fighters who volunteered to fight for Britain in World War II. In 1937 he qualified as a pilot and in 1940 aged 22, he volunteered to serve with the Royal Air Force in Britain after seeing an advertisement in the press. Mahinder was one of only seven Indians who were selected as fighter pilots and insisted on wearing his turban at all times - possibly the only Sikh fighter pilot to have done so.
He flew Hawker Hurricanes during the Battle …
In the 19th century Canning Town became home to the Mansfield House settlement at 143-147 Barking Road, a site that was used for a variety of social and community projects where state funds were non-existent. Organisations such as the Men’s Club, an Orchestral Society, a dramatic society and various sporting clubs all used the premises, and the organisation was also involved in providing shelter for sailors, dockworkers, or homeless people searching for work. One volunteer at Mansfield House was Maud Karpeles, born in London in 1885 to Jewish parents, and whose father was a German immigrant.
In the late 1800s, confectionary became a popular consumer product, and companies such built factories in the area providing a great deal of employment in the local community. Streimers Nougat was set up by Morris Streimer, a Jewish immigrant from Austria.
Streimer was born in Brody (circa 1857), then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and moved to England around 1888. Streimer founded his nougat factory shortly after this time in High Street and Ward Road, West Ham and in 1898 moved to Victoria Street. He became one of the suppliers for Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance expedition to …
In 1972 West Ham became the first club to field three black players together: Clive Charles, Clyde Best and Ade Coker.
The collective impact of the three across America was explosive. Brian Belton, a sports writer and expert in West Ham’s history, claims it was the influence of these three which inspired him …
Employment opportunities for black women in the 1930's were few, and often the music hall provided the only escape from work from the drudgery of the local factory. Such were the facts of life in the case of Josie Woods (1912-2008), born in Canning Town to a docker from Dominica and a mother of reported gypsy origins.
Josephine Wood, became known as the Jitterbug Queen, helping to popularise the dance craze to young people in the East End. In the late 1920's, Woods attended an audition held by the African-American music hall entertainer Belle Davis for …
West Ham has provided the England football team with many talented black footballers. Perhaps forgotten by many though is full back John Charles who was the first black footballer to represent England when he was selected for the under 18 side winning 5 youth caps.
John Charles was born in Canning Town in 1944, to a white British mother from Silvertown and a Merchant seaman father from Grenada in an era when mixed race relationships were frowned upon by many. Aged 13 John was spotted playing for his school by a local scout and asked to …
Reuben Goldberg’s career of fighting racism and fascism saw him on the frontline in both Bradford and Newham. Reuben was a member of the international Marxist group, President of the Bradford Student Union, and one of the original founders of the Bradford Ad-Hoc committee against racism and fascism. His background as an anti-fascist, a socialist, and a Jew meant he was often seen as a target by his enemies and was regularly attacked.
In 1975, Reuben was central to the newly formed Asian Youth Movement, stopping the National Front from marching through Manningham – the heart …
The Nine Black Stowaways
The outbreak of the First World War saw an increasing number of black men volunteering to join the British Army from all parts of the Caribbean. Some would even risk life and limb to "serve kind and country", as they stowed away on ships to Britain. However, their desire to serve the Empire was, at times, in vain, as they were often not welcome. The case of the nine Barbadian men, illustrates how these men were looked down upon, rather than embraced for their attempts to help Britain.
Nine black men – natives of Barbados, West …
The borough of Newham is full of inspirational figures who are dedicated to helping and improving their community, and Joyce Baptiste is one such person.
Joyce was born on November 2nd 1952 in Grenada and moved to London with her siblings at the age of fourteen. It was in London that Joyce pursued a career in midwifery and eventually became an active member of her church and community. Joyce grew up in beautiful Grenada with her family but at the age of five, her parents decided to migrate to London in order to provide a better …
Kamal Athon Chunchie was a Methodist pastor and founder of the Coloured Men’s Institute. He was born in Sri Lanka to a Muslim family on the 4th June 1886, and enjoyed an active childhood.
In 1915 he enlisted in the Public Schools Battalion and saw action in France and Selonika and was wounded twice. In 1917 he converted to Christianity and arrived in London in 1918. Towards the end of the war, he met Mable Tappen a member of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. They married in July 1920 and had one daughter, Muriel.
Samuel Gurney and his family were at the forefront of the fight against slavery - just one of the many battles Samuel fought during his notable life.
Gurney was born at Earlham Hall near Norwich on 18th October 1786. He then went on to marry Elizabeth Sheppard, the daughter of James Sheppard who had bought John Fothergill’s estate in Upton. When James died, the two of them went on to inherit the estate where they lived most of their lives. His older sister Elizabeth Gurney married Joseph Fry and went on to become the renowned Elizabeth …
Linda Lewis, once described as the ‘Cockney-Jamaican Gracie Fields’, is one of Britain's most respected and talented singer songwriters, with a career spanning more than four decades. With her five-octave vocal range, she has fused folk, soul, pop and reggae into a unique signature sound that is now an integral part of the pop music landscape.
Linda Fredericks, a cockney-Caribbean mixed race girl born in West Ham in 1950, was only three years of age when she started attending a local stage school. Over the next few years, Linda was regularly cast in non-speaking TV and …
Ashley Facey Thomson
Ashley Facey Thompson is an inspirational figure in the borough of Newham who excels as a table tennis player. Ashley was born on January 31st 1995 and moved to Stratford when he was a child. It was here that he found his love for table tennis at the age of 11. He was taking part in a practice lesson when his coaches immediately spotted his talent.
He was only participating for fun, so it was incredibly fortunate that his talent was recognised from such an early age. His love of sports extends beyond table tennis – …