My Chrisp Street Series
My Chrisp Street Series - October
Lenny Emms, Poplar Boys and Girls Club
Welcome to the latest installment of our ‘My Chrisp Street’ Series, which aims to tell the stories of Chrisp Street Market through the eyes of the people and businesses that make the iconic institution thrive.
This month we spoke to Lenny Emms, Poplar born and bred and Trustee of Poplar Boys and Girls Club. The long-standing club is a staple to children of past and present at Chrisp Street and provides a space to socialise in the afternoon and evenings.
The club has seen its fair share of history. Originally opened in 1939, and back then named Poplar Boys Club, the club was forced to close during WW2 and reopened in the mid-40s on Abbots Road. In 1965, the club moved to Chrisp Street in a glamorous reopening by Billy Butlin and Lord Mountbatten. It was at this launch, that a time capsule was buried in the foundations of the building. As part of the redevelopment of Chrisp Street and the club, the time capsule will be preserved and moved to the new location of the club.
In the mid-80s, Lenny Emms became chairman of the Poplar Boys Club. Between himself and other Trustees, they were seeing more and more girls wanting to join in with the fun and activities taking place inside. It was then that the club became known as it is today, The Poplar Boys and Girls Club. “I’ve seen three generations of families come through these doors. A young lady with her daughter came in the other day to see us, whose parents used to visit the club back in the 70s.”
The club was expanded in the 90s to introduce a boxing gym which has been incredibly popular since then. Children and adults of all ages are welcome to the boxing gym, with allocated days and classes for both.
Like all business and sports clubs alike, the recent pandemic hit the club hard. “We obviously had to close during lockdown which was difficult for the staff but also our visitors. We pride ourselves on providing a space for the youth of Poplar, so not being able to do this for all those weeks were hard on all of us.”
The club suffered further when just after 2021 lockdown eased, a storm hit the club causing the roof to collapse. Currently being repaired and lined up to re-open soon, the club will continue to provide entertainment and activities for young people including pool tables, air games and online gaming through donated PlayStations.
“We’re very excited the get the club back up and running, it’s a vital and beloved part of the community and steeped in history. We look forward to what the regeneration of Chrisp Street can bring to the club.”
Starting in 2021, the regeneration of Chrisp Street, by Telford Homes will include the building of over 600 new homes with a new market and retail space. The regeneration will consist of a refurbishment of the current shops through the building of a new and large market, making way for new shops and a market canopy.
Paul Davis - Paul's Deli
Welcome to the latest installment of our ‘My Chrisp Street’ Series, which aims to tell the stories of Chrisp Street Market through the eyes of the people and businesses that make our iconic institution thrive.
This month, we spoke to Paul Davis - of Paul’s Deli, a traditional butchery and delicatessen located on Vasey Path. In the past 50 years, Paul Davis has seen the face of Chrisp Street Market change and adapt to welcome new customers and technologies to help the local businesses.
Paul’s Deli has been serving the public for over thirty years, setting up shop in the 70’s selling home-cured and cooked hams, cooked chicken and salt beef as its speciality. As well as bread rolls and Beigals (direct from Brick Lane) delivered to the store fresh each day.
Most recently Paul has been working with Tower Hamlets Borough Council to help digitise the business and secure its future during the difficult times that covid has presented in the past 18 months. “LBTH were very useful in helping me utilise ways to support my business during the pandemic. Getting my website up and running, including an online shop so customers can feel safe in ordering produce straight to their home if they’re still nervous about heading out too much”.
Paul also worked with LBTH to take part in a delivery bike trial earlier this summer, after receiving a grant to cover the costs. The eBIKE trial was initiated to support the local businsesses of Chrisp Street in providing a delivery method for its customers, allowing traders to focus on their business knowing their products are delivered on time and with care. The bike trial was a success and Paul continues to use the eBIKE service as part of his online store.
Since the pandemic began in 2020, Paul found new customers coming to his deli looking for fresh, local produce and meat. “We’ve been lucky in the last year, during the pandemic, that more and more customers have been supporting local businesses and especially looking for more responsibly sourced produce than what’s available in the supermarkets; this has definitely helped the business survive during this time.”
The regeneration of Chrisp Street by Telford Homes will include the construction of 649 new homes with a new market and retail space. The regeneration will include the refurbishment of the current shops and market, as well as making way for new shops and a market canopy. Traders will remain open throughout the regeneration so please continue to check the website for the latest information.
Razia Khatun, Medina Bazar
Introducing the second instalment of our ‘My Chrisp Street’ series; which aims to tell the story of Chrisp Street through the voices of the people and businesses that make this iconic institution what it is.
This month we spoke to Razia Khatun, who owns Medina Bazar. Medina Bazar is a grocery store located at 17 Market Way. The store specialises in catering for the local South Asian community, selling mainly Bangladeshi products, however, also includes rice and spices, halal products such as meats and poultry, fish and snacks and fresh vegetables from the tables at the front of the store.
Razia describes the local area as largely unchanged since she opened the store in 2012, but the impact of lockdown has been difficult: “It’s been especially tough over the last year, a few shops have closed due to the pandemic, but a few larger brands and companies have arrived into the area, introducing younger generations to Chrisp Street.”
Medina Bazar has settled in well at Chrisp Street, building a portfolio of regular and loyal customers. Local residents have come to trust Razia and the business to deliver quality products and a tailored service right on their doorstep.
Razia feels positively about the regeneration of Chrisp Street. “As new businesses come into the area, this can only bring new customers and fresh faces into the market. The regeneration will give the marketplace a great facelift, creating a brighter, cleaner and safer place for locals to spend time in and support the businesses that make Chrisp Street what it is. Establishing a nightlife into the area will also help bring in younger people that can continue to use the market for years to come and help increase footfall.”
My Chrisp Street Series - February
Brian Boulter, Eastenders Pie & Mash
Welcome to the first instalment of our ‘My Chrisp Street’ series, which aims to tell the story of Chrisp Street through the voices of the people and businesses that give this iconic institution it’s vibrant and unique identity.
This month, we spoke to Brian Boulter of Eastenders Pie & Mash. Having first opened over 50 years ago, with various owners and name changes throughout the years, the shop has been feeding hungry locals for over half a century with its classic East End combination of traditional pie, mash and eels. The shop prides itself on serving fresh food with the meat for the pie’s sourced from Smithfield Market and everything including the liquor and mash made fresh in the shop daily.
The shop has stayed true to its original recipe over the years, with the pie and mash available now almost identical to that which was served when it first opened, to cater for the lunchtime rush of locals frequenting the area; “With the bustling London Docks on our doorstep the area was busier back then. We now have a lot more diversity in our customers and have adapted the menu slightly to cater for the changing demographics - offering more options including vegetarian and vegan pies. Plus nowadays people are more aware of what they’re eating and the younger generation is increasingly more health-conscious than ever before; but we’ve found that as long as we stick to tradition in offering a tasty, wholesome, filling and healthy meal for a very reasonable price the customers will keep coming back”
Brian took over the business from a retiring friend and has just recently handed the reins over to his son David, who returned home from Norway last year. Having lived in the area all of his life, Brian is an East Londoner through and through and Chrisp Street and the Poplar district hold a special place in his heart. “We’ve been here since the mid-70s and I was born in Canning Town, so I know the local area very well. I have great memories of the area as a kid and it’s definitely changed over the years, but it’s been nice to see the old traditions and the spirit of the area remain. Businesses have to adapt to these changes and have something to offer to the new people coming into the area, which is why the development is such a positive.”
Brian is hopeful that the ongoing regeneration of Chrisp Street, which will see new homes and amenities, will attract new types of customers: “For the market, it’s a case of the businesses working together to help everyone get back on their feet, after the last year. The development will bring some new life into the area with more people moving here. A new location for the shop along with outside seating and other food options nearby will hopefully entice people to the market on a regular basis”.
Starting onsite in Summer 2021, the regeneration of Chrisp Street by London developer Telford Homes will include the construction of 649 new homes with an updated market and retail space.