Gilda O'Neill has drawn on her life in Cockney London to give us a taste of what it was like to live around the docklands by the River Thames in the 1950s. My East End shares with us life in rows of terraced houses with no indoor toilets and often sharing with one or more families. Her nan (grandmother) had a pie and mash shop, her grandfather was a tug skipper.
In personal recollections East Enders, instead of complaining about the cramped conditions, enjoyed the sense of community with families looking after each other's children, sharing a meal when times were hard (as it was most of the time) and helping out when someone was ill. Women sat outside their doors (which led directly into the street with no front garden) and watched children play and share a conversation with their neighbors.
The children made their own games using an old bike wheel with the spokes removed or playing on bomb sites (from WWII) hoping to find some treasures. Following the arrival of container shipping requiring deeper waters and larger cranes, the docks were eventually closed and trade moved to the Thames estuary, Tilbury.
The Docklands were later developed into a London business area with skyscrapers and office buildings replacing the terraced houses and displacing the dock workers who could no longer afford to live there. The area was further developed to host the 2012 London Olympics.
Unfortunately, Gilda O'Neill died a few years ago at the age of 59. She has many works of both fiction and non-fiction.