East End Dwellings Company employed lady rent-collectors to co-ordinate
the basic administration of the buildings. The rent-collectors
were Beatrice Potter (later Beatrice Webb and co-founder of the
LSE) and a woman we know very little about, Ella Pycroft. The
Company required the rent-collectors to keep a log. So, during
their time as colleagues Ella and Beatrice kept a record of the
inhabitants of the building recording information about their
occupations, family circumstances, lifestyles, rents and length
of residence. This log still exists and provides a fascinating
insight into the physical and moral standards and prejudices of
Victorian dwellings companies. Below are a few excerpts from the
log, with information on some of the people who actually lived
in the Katharine Buildings.
ABBOT, John: Large
room, 3s. 6d. 8 months, 1888-9: Casual labourer. Had been
imprisoned by School Board at the time they came in. Low class
people, very poor, seemed honest. Wife did a little cleaning.
Boy at truant school. Emily, b. 1878. Eliza b. 1885.
ABRAHAMS, Hyman: Double
rooms, 5s.6d. 2 weeks, 1886: Tailor. Jew. Wife and children
dirty. Left after two weeks: said the children of the Buildings
hooted them as Jews.
BARDON : Large Room,
3s. 0d. 3.5 months, 1886-87: Bricklayers, labourer. Wife,
Young people, Came from a cellar in Margan Street. Clean but doubtfully
respectable. Mrs B's mother wanted to come to K.B; refused to
have her. Her landlord advised me not, and her appearance would
have been enough. She accounted for the numerous scars on her
face by saying that she had always lived in dark places, and so
knocked herself about! The Bardons moved to be near her and we
CLARY, James: Large room,
3s. 6d. 1 year 2 months, 1888-89: Stevedore's labourer. Wife,
Norah Murphy, daughter of Patrick Murphy ; vegetable maid, had to
give up work in consequence of miscarriage. Said her husband had
deserted her. I allowed her to move her thing away, then was told
it was only a made-up story.