June 2013 Newsletter

Cleaning windows

Hello! A few weeks ago we used a cleaning contractor for the 2nd time to clean the stairwells and your windows. Please let us know what you thought via email (board@dunstanhouses.co.uk). A related note: if you smoke, we’d ask you don’t deposit cigarette butts out of your window or leave them on the stairwells. 

Water Tanks

The ancient water tanks at the tops of the staircases have now been replaced. Everything should be back to normal for those flats affected. Thanks for your cooperation if you were affected by the works.

Companies House Accounts and Service Charge

The financial accounts for Dunstan Houses are now all submitted to Companies House. You may have already received a request from Crabtree for a small sum (in addition to the service charge). We voted to reduce the service charge for 2013 as the major programme of works that has included the roof, stairwells and water tanks is now complete.

Bike Racks

We added another ‘post’ to the bike racks. Please do not chain your bikes to the downpipes in the courtyard.

Unwanted Visitors

Thank you to residents that have used the ASBO number we provided last month. We have had reports that community support officers have removed youths from the staircases. It is important to ensure people know that they cannot come and drink and smoke in the stairwells so please ring the ASBO team (the non-emergency police 101 number) if you see or hear this happening.


(from the previous site)

During the early twentieth century there was a large Russian and Polish population in Stepney, the majority of which were Jewish immigrants fleeing persecution in their homeland. Stepney was, in fact, the most intensely Russian-Polish area of London: according to the 1902 census four-fifths of London’s Russian-Polish population lived in Stepney.

East London also attracted a substantial number of Russian socialists and revolutionaries who used London as a base from which to write propaganda, organise and agitate in the relative safety of Britain (regardless, the Tsarist secret police pursued those they were particularly concerned about as far as Stepney itself). During the last decade of the nineteenth century Robert Spence Watson founded the Society of Friends of Russian Freedom, an organisation used to promote the cause of freedom and democracy in autocratic Russia by exposing the realities of life within the country.

Thanks to an appeal organised by Spence Watson’s Society of Friends, 32 crew members from the battleship Potemkin (the Russian cruiser whose crew rebelled during the 1905 Revolution and inspired the famous film of the same name) were granted asylum and relocated to Britain. The ship’s torpedo quartermaster, a man called Afanasy Matushenko (or Matochenko), later moved to Stepney – more specifically to Dunstan House.

You can read more here, or in Walter Kendall’s The Revolutionary Movement in Britain 1900-1921, or watch the movie Battleship Potemkin.

(Many thanks to Edward Parkinson)

East End Years

Childhood memories

(from the previous site)

Here’s a great book written by Fermin Rocker, son of the anarchist Rudolph Rocker, and former resident of Dunstan House. It’s a wonderful tale of a boy growing up in the East End of London in the early part of last century – and it’s all set in our building. There’s even a wonderful drawing of Dunstan House on the cover.

Support your local anarchists and buy the book at Freedom Press in Whitechapel (near the Whitechapel Gallery).