Search

Win a £100 Amazon voucher in this week’s Recorder

On sale today

The rise and rise of internet marvel Memories of Canning Town

12:00 25 November 2012

Rathbone Market, Canning Town.

Rathbone Market, Canning Town.

Archant

How do you create an internet phenomenon? The answer could be a happy marriage of the old and the new as Sarah Cain found when she created spectacularly successful Memories of Canning Town.

Canning Town skylineCanning Town skyline

The online group, created by Sarah two years ago, started life as a simple sepia photo album on Facebook that the mother-of-two put together so her children would have some connection with their roots.

Sarah went to bed and while she slept, people had shared the album with friends and relatives, and she woke up to discover the photos had been seen by around 3,000 people.

What’s more, the album had prompted a steady stream of discussion - of memories, old families, shops, cinemas, markets, and legendary older relatives whose tales had trickled down the generations.

Sarah decided to set up a Facebook group to accommodate all the old Canning Towners and keep them in touch, no matter how far they had moved away.

The idea turned out to be phenomenally popular and the group has now amassed over 3,800 members, around 6,000 pictures have been shared, and it has turned into a website of its own www.memoriesofcanningtown.co.uk.

Sarah said: “I didn’t want to put the group out there unless it was already established and now I think it’s the right time because it really is.

“It has so many members, its sits with its own website and it does its own charity work.”

The last Memories of Canning Town reunion, in the East Ham Working Men’s Club on Boleyn Road, saw some 300 former residents return for a jolly good knees up while raising £1,600 from a raffle and an auction for Richard House Children’s Hospice in Beckton and St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney.

Sarah said: “We all get together and we have a really good night.

“This year I have got a friend of mine to make some pie and mash, we’re always going on about pie and mash, and some jellied eels. He’s even shutting his shop to make enough for us all. But there are a few surprises in store as well.

“Last year was a blinding success. There was this man, I’m trying to think where he came from, but he travelled for four hours to get to us.”

Sarah moved to Kent 15 years ago but says she is still in Canning Town most weekends to see family and friends who have stayed in the area.

The Facebook group, and now the website, has been a labour of love for Sarah for the past two years as she approves members, moderates the group, adds more photos, solves minor disputes, and organises fundraising events.

The E16-ers have even inspired spin-off groups dedicated to Plaistow and East Ham.

Sarah said: “There’s some harsh language on there but that’s just what we’re like. That’s the way we talk.

“There’s no hidden characters on there, what you see is exactly what you get.

“It’s been my life for two years but now I go on holiday and I say to them, ‘Now you be good all of you and behave yourselves until I get back’.

“Our group’s the Guvnor of all the groups - and they call me the Guvnor which I bloody hate, I hate it when they call me the Guvnor!

“I think it’s lovely that my group has inspired other people to make their own dedicated to their areas.”

It seems that, like the Recorder’s Memory Lane section, Memories of Canning Town thrives on an insatiable appetite to relive the ‘good old days’ of the traditional East End.

When asked to explain this phenomenon and what drives the people to return again and again to Canning Town - even if that reunion is an online experience - Sarah struggles to explain the profound attachment people feel for the area.

Finally, Sarah said: “In the East End, they struggled so much but no matter what, they all helped each other and it was a community.

“So they struggled but they still had a smile on their face and they were happy. For many people on the group, they say that growing up there was the happiest they have ever been. And I suppose that’s it.”

The next Memories of Canning Town reunion is on November 30 at the East Ham Working Men’s Club, 2 Boleyn Road, E6 1QE.

Tickets are £15 with all proceeds going towards funding the event and charitable donations given to Richard House Children’s Hospice.

Join the Memories of Canning Town Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/groups/Memoriesofcanningtown or visit the website at www.memoriesofcanningtown.co.uk to find out more.

Sarah is also planning a Christmas celebration and a Hallowe’en event for 2013.

0 comments

Latest News Stories

17:00
Rita Ora visits the Elam Music and Arts College in Stratford 26 June 2015.
© Suzan Moore

Budding young musicians received a special visit from Rita Ora.

13:28
British Transport Police (BTP) officers have released CCTV images of a person they want to trace after a man was robbed as he withdrew cash from Forest Gate station

British Transport Police (BTP) officers have released CCTV images of a person they want to trace after a man was robbed as he withdrew cash at Forest Gate station.

British Transport Police
13:00
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27:  Canal & River Trust launches pioneering new youth arts project which this week sees 30 students from east London rehearse a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream while travelling in narrow-boats to Shakespeare's birth-place, Stratford-Upon-Avon on June 27, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for Canal & River Trust)

Performing arts and media students have embarked on an eight day canal journey from their school in Stratford to Stratford-upon-Avon.

Chobham Academy
10:55
Emmanuel Obasi with his partner Ann

A man who felt powerless to help his seriously ill partner has launched himself into action.

Most read news

Competitions

Good times with Greenall's!

Good times with Greenall’s, a Great British gin sponsors Great British racing.

Read more
Escape to the picturesque sights of Cornwall

Summer is finally here, and what is the number one holiday location in the UK during the warmer months? Cornwall, of course!

Read more

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Newham Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder