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Jay Blades continues to explore East End history with Channel 5


Jay Blades continues to explore East End history with Channel 5

Best on the Box choice for June 20th…

In the second episode of Jay Blades’ East End through Time…

Jay Blades delves into the fascinating history of the East End in the 19th Century. Starting in Whitechapel, Jay discovers the East End was once the home of British gun making, and he also has a go at working on a handcrafted shotgun £75,000. He also meets a tour guide down one of Whitechapel’s dark alleys to hear about Jack the Ripper’s victims and his crimes’ coverage in the press, which whipped up a frenzy.

In Canary Wharf he hears how docks were built there in 1802, catering for the trade from the West Indies of slave-produced goods like sugar and rum. While West India traders were getting insanely rich, dock labourers worked in poor conditions and the enslaved people in the Caribbean were even worse off.

Jay ventures south of the river, to Rotherhithe, where he learns the incredible engineering story of how father and son team Marc and Isambard Kingdom Brunel, tunneled under the Thames in 1825 to reach Wapping in the East End. The project was beset by problems, and Isambard K Brunel almost died in the process.

Later, Jay joins the Pearly King of Mile End in one of the East End’s oldest pie and mash shops, to learn about the surprising origins of the pearlies, and gets tested on his cockney rhyming slang.

Jay hears about the horrendous conditions at a matchstick factory in Bow and how the women who worked there went on strike in 1888; making an impact that had repercussions across the UK.

Finally, Jay visits the beautiful Abbey Mills pumping station, aka “poo palace”, to hear how Sir Joseph Bazalgette designed a network of sewers in the 1860s to clean up the Thames, which had become an open sewer causing thousands of deaths through cholera.

Jay Blades’ East End through Time, Channel 5, 9pm

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