The Nichol was a built-up area of housing in East London. It ran from High Street,
Shoreditch, and Hackney Road in the north, and Spitalfields to the south. Within
it were several streets, the main ones being Boundary Street, Old Nichol Street,
Half Nichol Street, The Mount and Church Street (the only one with shops). Its
inhabitants were extremely poor and never needed to leave due to the fact that
all basic services were accounted for within The Nichol area. There were shops,
a hospital, a school, a mission hall and church.
Arthur lived on the ground floor of a three-story tenement house, part of Keeve’s
Buildings, which was home to twelve other families, four to each floor. There
was a street door which was always left open. Its basement was supposedly meant
for washing clothes, but it was so dark that it just housed homeless people from
the cold of the night. The door to Arthur and his family’s room was just a flimsy
piece of wood which it would be easy to kick in. There was not much fear of getting
robbed however, since there was nothing to steal.
The Conservative government of the time claimed to be in favour of helping London's
poor, so they demolished The Nichol and claimed they would re-house the residents
in new, more modern, buildings in the same area. However, only eleven families
ended up being re-housed in that location.
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