Mile End Old Town 1740-1780. Morris, Derek. 2002

Mile End Old Town 1740-1780. Morris, Derek. 2002

Morris, Derek. 
Mile End Old Town 1740-1780.
The East London History Society.
ISBN 0 9506258 3 3.

In 2000, Derek Morris treated fellow CCS members to an insight into the Mile End Old Town that Captain Cook knew [See Cook's Log pages 1750 and 1776, vol. 23, nos. 3 and 4 (2000)]. His latest publication is a 124 pp A4 softback that provides readers with the whole gamut of mid 18th century life in this small community.

The book covers those transitional years when Mile End Old Town was still showing its rural roots but was coming increasingly under the influence of London and the burgeoning maritime trade of the adjacent parish of Wapping. Chapters cover the social and commercial history of the area, from the rural economy through some of the local crafts, to the merchants and seamen who elected to live in this suburban hamlet.

I was amazed to read the breadth and the depth of history that exists for this small geographical area, and for such a short span of time. The work is essential for anybody with an interest in Mile End Old Town, but it offers far more than that, as it demonstrates the many specialist archives from which Derek has taken threads to create his historical tapestry. As such it will be a useful reference book for local historians researching the East End of London.

Cook enthusiasts will not be disappointed in the book, as the Captain and his family, not to mention Dr Solander are woven into different chapters of the book.

The author has a personal interest in Mile End Old Town having traced his ancestral roots to that hamlet as far back as 1746. He has shown that the area is rich in local history and has already produced many specialist articles on different aspects of history.

His latest work is a useful summation of his extensive research.

Cliff Thornton

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 19, volume 26, number 1 (2003).

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