Protests about the demise of the East End are sentimental – it wasn't that welcoming

It’s easy to sneer at the lofty pretensions of the new East Enders, with their beards, foraging and eco-friendly baggy shorts, but they’re a lot more welcoming than a smoky pub full of men leering at a woman wearing nipple tassels

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The Independent Online

In Shoreditch, East London, strippers are being replaced by sharing plates, and according to some, the area is losing its “traditional culture”.

In the mid-1970s I lived in Limehouse, and Sunday lunchtimes were a chance to visit a pub at the end of the Highway to enjoy the Billy Fury and Frank Sinatra impersonators. We were always careful not to sit in anyone’s chair, and clustered around the bar – the locals weren’t that welcoming.

Since then, the area has changed beyond all recognition, with trendy warehouse apartments, the Overground and the Docklands Light Railway making it easily accessible from the City and the banking houses at Canary Wharf. New residents have new requirements, with craft beer, designer food and sharing plates high on the agenda.

The White Horse on Shoreditch High Street was one of the last pubs with strippers, until rising rents forced it to close last summer. The end of an era was marked with a funeral parade through the surrounding streets and now the local community association are outraged because the pub is to be turned into another place to enjoy “fine dining”, with the owner promising “high quality ingredients from small producers”.

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Food in the East End has come a long way from Tubby Isaac’s whelk stall in Whitechapel and Mr Roggs’ salt beef establishment on Cannon Street Road where I bought my lunch every day. It’s easy to sneer at the lofty pretensions of the new East Enders, with their beards, foraging and eco-friendly baggy shorts, but they’re a lot more welcoming than a smoky pub full of men leering at a woman wearing nipple tassels.

As for traditional End End culture, that was a time when uneducated men were in charge and women knew their place: putting dinner on the table while the man of the house drank in the pub on the corner.

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