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The Lord Denman

Named after Lord Denman - a man who played a great part in the abolition of slavery.

270–272 Heathway, Dagenham, Essex, RM10 8QS

The great reforming judge, the First Lord Denman, Lord Chief Justice of England, lived at Parsloes, in Dagenham, during 1850–1852. He gained a reputation as a debater at Eton, with very liberal opinions, and then on to Cambridge University. His efforts to abolish slavery and his work on other causes and cases brought about the collapse of his health, resigning in 1850. A stroke meant he was never able to speak or write again and died not long after in 1854.

A statue of Lord Denman, by Anthony Stones RA, 1994. 

A framed illustration of Thomas, 1st Lord Denman, Lord Chief Justice of England.

A framed piece of text about Lord Denman.

The text reads: Lord Denman’s efforts to abolish slavery and his work on other causes and cases, brought about the collapse of his health. He was forced to resign as Lord Chief Justice in 1850.

Although he improved after a rest, his return to campaigning was soon followed by a stroke. He was never able to speak or write again, and died not long after in 1854.

There were many tributes to his memory. One colleague wrote that he was “Beloved by everyone who knew him”.

In the words of his friend Charles Sumner, “to have seen him on the bench in the administration of justice, was to have a new idea of the elevation of the judicial character”.

Framed illustrations and text about the abolition of slavery.

The text reads: Since Elizabethan times, English merchants had played a part in the Slave trade. The growth of the southern colonies in British America led to an expansion in that trade, as slave labour was needed on the tobacco plantations and in the cotton fields.

The development of the sugar industry in the West Indies led to a further increased demand for African slaves. The slaves were bought by British merchants in the slave markets of the West African coast, having been captured in the interior. They were then crowded together on board ‘slavers’, often chained and whipped if the proved difficult, and shipped to the Americas.

The ports of Bristol and Liverpool grew rich on the proceeds of the slave trade, while the profits made by merchants provided some of the finance needed for the early industrial revolution.

The evils of the slave trade became well known because of the work of various campaign groups of reformers. There were Quakers, like Thomas Clarkson, who got their information from sailors and slaver-captains.

But these reformers had no voice in Parliament. In 1787 William Wilberforce MP and the rest of the Clapham Sect set up a ‘Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade’. The following year the Prime Minister, William Pitt, set up a Commons Committee to examine the slave trade. In 1787 Wilberforce brought in his first motion for the abolition of the trade, but failed to get the support of the Commons.

The campaign continued, and in 1807 succeeded in getting Parliament to abolish the slave trade. This still left the unsolved problem of slavery in the Empire. Wilberforce continued his campaign, but had to wait until 1833 – when he was dying – before he was successful.

Slave owners were compensated for the loss of their ‘property’. The Government paid £20 million – about £37.50 for each slave.

A framed print and text about Parsloes.

The text reads: The manor Parsloes is first mentioned when Sir William Hewitt, Lord Mayor of London in 1559, left it to his daughter. In 1618 Parsloes was purchased by William Fanshawe, and remained in the possession of the Dagenham branch of the family until 1916.

In the late 19th century the house fell into disrepair, and in the 1920’s it was demolished and replaced by two cottages built from its Tudor bricks.

Framed illustrations of text about The Great Reform Act.

The text reads: This Act, passed in 1832, occupies a central place in the history of 19th century Britain, although in recent years historians have tended to stress how little, rather than how much, was changed by it.

Before 1832 the majority of MPs were elected for constituencies in the southern part of England, which had been drawn up before the Industrial Revolution, when England was mainly an agricultural country.

By 1830 there was a bewildering and complex system. There was also a great deal of corruption, which allowed rich men and the Government to control elections. Large towns like Manchester and Birmingham were not represented in parliament. Rural elections were controlled by landowners.

The demand for change had been growing for many years. The crucial factor was the rise of the new middle class (industrialists, financiers and merchants) with the confidence to challenge the political power of the landowners.

Many working class campaigners hoped that reform would force Parliament to consider their complaints. But there was, of course, considerable resistance – “he who controls the system gets the law he wants”.

When earl grey formed a government in 1830, he asked Lord John Russell to draw up a Reform Bill. It was approved in the Commons by one vote in March 1831, but in April was defeated in committee.

A slightly different Bill, presented by Russell in September, was [assed by the Commons, but rejected by the Lords. Widespread unrest and violent anti-Tory demonstrations followed. Despite resistance by the Lords, a slightly amended Bill was passed in 1832.

The number of voters went up from about 44,000 to about 657,000. The £10 qualification for the borough (town) vote meant that only the richer industrialists and merchants got the vote. The Commons was still dominated by MPs from the south, and bribery and corruption continued during elections. However, the Act had altered the old system, paving the way for further much needed changes.

Framed photographs and text about Jimmy Greaves.

The text reads: Jimmy Greaves – the local lad who became the idol of millions, and the best strike in the history of British football.

His astonishing professional career began as an apprentice at Chelsea, followed by a brief and stormy period in Italy with A.C. Milan. Greaves returned to England and, in his own words, “I had my summertime at Tottenham Hotspur”.

After spending most of the 60s at Spurs, Jimmy signed for West Ham United. His tremendous talent was also gloriously displayed on the international stage as a member of the England team.

His career bridged two worlds. As a 17 year old apprentice with Chelsea in 1957, his weekly wage was a mere £4.50, (senior professionals earned £17 a week during the season). How things have changed!

But that is not all that changed in his time as a professional player. Football increasingly became geared to stopping rather than scoring goals. In his own words, “penalty areas were suddenly as packed as Piccadilly in the rush hour and goals, the lifeblood of the game, began to be in short supply”.

Just for the record Jimmy Greaves played in 516 Football League matches and scored 357 goals, all of them in the First Division (now the premiership). Jimmy scored three of more goals in 22 different First Division matches.

He also scored 44 goals in 57 England internationals. The most disappointing part of his international career was being left out of the England team that won the World Cup in 1966. Yet there was worse to come.

The big time has its own pressures and in order to escape the Jimmy hit the bottle. It is a period in his life about which he has spoken openly. Happily he bounced back. Fan of “the beautiful game” remember his as once of the all time greats.

A framed poster advertising Ford of Dagenham.

Framed photographs of Dagenham Girl Pipers on tour in Belgium, 1933.

A framed photograph of one of the Dagenham Girl Pipers. 

A framed print and text about Dagenham Breach.

The text reads: A breach in the Thames wall at Dagenham was repaired in 1621 by the Dutch engineer Vermuyden. However, in 1707 the river overflowed once more, and it was thirteen years before the Thames was once again under control. The water behind the wall was known as the ‘Gulf’ or Dagenham Lake. Breach House, built for superintendents of the repair work, became the club rooms of the Dagenham Breach Company, and the Gulf became a favourite fishing ground. The house was later owned by the Fry Family.

The Gulf was fished until 1875 when the land was bought for commercial development. In 1924 the land was purchased for a new motor works. The purpose built factory for Ford Motor Company opened on the old marshland in 1928.

Framed illustrations of (top to bottom) Dagenham High Street, 1895; Dagenham Old Church, 1770; Dagenham Village, 1889.

An external view of the pub – main entrance.

If you have information on the history of this pub, then we’d like you to share it with us. Please e-mail all information to: pubhistories@jdwetherspoon.co.uk