Turks Head

This pub appears to have been established in 1706, rebuilt in 1766 and was

rebuilt again in its present form in 1927.

Between about 1803 and 1956 this building was a stones throw from part of

the docks, Wapping Basin now the site of the John Orwell Sports Centre

which must have made it busier than it is today.

The name Turks Head is normally a variant of Saracens Head. It can also describe a thistle, a round long handled brush and a round cake tin which has a conical core in the centre. Steve’s guess is that this follows a Turks Head in Wendesbury, W Midlands whose sign shows an ornamental knot called a Turks head, seen in the pub sign as ropework adorning the tiller-post of a canal narrow boat.

In WW2 the pub was run by a Mog Murphy and she opened all hours for service personnell to get news of their loved ones during the blitz.

In the 1980’s a campaign by Maureen Davis and the “wild women of Wapping” was launched to keep the pub open and improve local life.

In 1992 The Turk’s Head was bought from the Council and renovated by the independent Turks Head Charity. Now it provides a café and affordable workspace and the rental income pays for charitable activities.

The Turks Head Charity is proud of its successes most notably of securing the landmark building the Turk’s Head.

The charity also played a major role alongside the Civilians Remembered Trust in a bitterly fought battle against Berkeley Homes to gain the Hermitage Memorial Park on the Thames waterfront. This was established to give recognition to the civilians who died in the London blitz. The Blitz started on 7th September 1940 and ended on 10th May 1941. London was initially bombed for 57 consecutive nights. Many other cities and areas suffered but the East End of London was one of the worst hit areas due to its proximity to the docks with 436 Londoners killed and 1,666 injured on the first night alone, and with total casualties near to 30,000. 1 million houses were destroyed.

On June 16th 2008 a crowd of around 100 East Enders watched the cabinet minister Hazel Blears; and 85-year-old Blitz survivor Alf Roffey cut the ribbon on the sculpture, which is on the site of Hermitage Wharf—destroyed during a German air raid on 29th December 1940.

More recently, the charity has run the annual Wapping Summer Shindig, a day when history comes alive, of music, dancing, local talent and home cooking. It has also:

  • Campaigned to stop a major road being driven through Wapping
  • Organised and funded the Wapping Summer Shindig
  • Created the community food garden at the Turk’s Head Café
  • Paid for 16 local residents get a Level 2 food hygiene certificate
  • Financially supported other charities in the area







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