ROMAN ROAD IN east London is a section of a road running northeast from Shoreditch. It is part of a Roman road, once known as ‘Pye Road’, which ran from London to Venta Icenorum that was near Norwich. The modern road passes through an area known as Globe Town, which lies just east of Bethnal Green Underground Station. Known as ‘Eastfields’ until the start of the 19th century, the area was then called Globe Town, probably because there was a pub with that name in the area. The area was developed in the late 18th century to accommodate French Huguenot and Irish silk weavers. The weavers had looms in their homes.
By the late 19th century, Globe Town had become an overcrowded slum. Then, there were not only weavers in this run-down district but also dockworkers and people considered to be disreputable: thieves, prostitutes, and vagrants.
At the start of the 20th century, some of the slum buildings were replaced by improved habitations. Some of these can be seen whilst walking along Globe Road, which runs north from Roman Road. The buildings along Globe Road were mainly constructed by the East End Dwellings Company (‘EEDC’) between 1900 and 1906. This philanthropic company was founded in 1882 to create model dwellings. One of its founding fathers was the vicar of St Judes Church in Whitechapel, Samuel Augustus Barnett (1844-1913). Samuel and his wife Henrietta Barnett (1851-1936) unwittingly played an important role in my childhood and early adulthood. For, it was their idea to create the Hampstead Garden Suburb (in north London), where I lived for almost 30 years. Interestingly, the Anglican church in the Suburb is also dedicated to St Jude.
The aim of the EEDC was to house the poor economically, yet not without making some modest profit. The company’s first project was Katharine Buildings in Aldgate, which were opened in 1885. The buildings in Globe Road were completed between 1900 and 1906 and are still in use. Apart from the EEDC buildings, Globe Road offers the visitor a few other treats. One of these is The Camel pub, whose menu includes a range of pies. Nearby is another pub, The Florist Arms, which offers stone-baked pizzas. If these food items are not to your taste, The Full Monty Café offers tasty snacks, Opposite the latter, there is a small second-hand bookshop, which raises money for a Buddhist organisation. The London Buddhist Centre is housed on the corner of Globe and Roman Roads. A short distance east of Globe Road, Roman Road crosses the Regents Canal, which is flanked on its east side by pleasant parks.