The Methodist Church Tower Hamlets

Churches & projects serving London's East End

History - Bow Road


Origins - 1860 onwards

The Bow Mission has a long history dating back to 1860 when the first Weslyan Homes Missions minister was appointed to the East End. Rev. Alexander MacAulay came, with his family, to Bow and lodged at no. 13 Tredeager Square.


Between the world wars - 1918-1939

In 2003 whilst a room in the present mission was being re-ordered an old safe, which hadn't been opened for years, was found and the challenge was on to find a key that fit the lock! Eventually a key was found and the safe opened. It contained a few old papers of no value, a dress ring (which was eventually sold at Sotherby's jewllery sale) and of most interest 4 cans of 16mm cine film dating from the 1930's. After some restoration and transfer to video the films show a tantalising glimpse of the work of the Bow Mission before the second world war and views of the East End that have all but been lost since the bombing of 1941, the so called slum clearance of the post war era and the more recent redevelopment sparked by the London Docklands Development Corporation. The films are black and white and have no sound but remain a wonderful record of the life and times of Methodist East Enders in the 1930's.

A full copy of the DVD produced from the original cine film footage is available at a cost of £5 plus postage. The cost will support the present community work of the Methodist Church in Tower Hamlets.

It is even more amazing that a copy of the cine film survived as the Mission itself was destroyed by bombing in the early stages of the second world war. In  September 1941, during bombing raids to the Docks just a mile or so south, the Mission suffered a direct hit and the main building was completely destroyed.


The post war era -1950's

The church met and continued its work from the old school hall which had survived the bombing in 1941. War reparation money, funds from London Methodism and local fundraising finally made it possible for a new Mission building to be opened on 8th September 1951.


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