Bloomfield House

The last East End sugarhouse, 1807-1961
Contributed by Bryan Mawer on Nov. 1, 2016

'On Monday night, about nine o'clock, the greatest excitement was created in the immediate neighbourhood of Whitechapel, by a most destructive conflagration breaking out in the extensive premises of Mr Zabell, sugar- baker, situated in the rear of the houses (forming a square) in King Edward- street, Princes-street, Dunk-street and Halifax-street, on the north side of Mile-end-road, and most densely populated by poor people. ... The flames were ... roaring with uncontrollable violence from every window of the factory, which stands by itself, five stories in height, producing utter dismay to the surrounding inhabitants, whose houses and habitations were, though detached, within reach of the fire. The only approach to the factory was a small and narrow gateway, and through no less than forty dwellings." 1

Having been run by John Court Dirs from 1807, and then by others, this sugarhouse was in the possession of Frederick William Zabell for maybe 10 years before it was burned to a shell in 1838. It was rebuilt and Zabell continued working there until at least 1845. In 1855 Ernst L. V. Schwier took the sugarhouse at 39 Dunk St. Within a few years he became blind - a hereditary condition which also affected his three sons, who in turn became successful sugar refiners there. In 1897, after all other sugar refining in the East End had ceased, the long established family firm of Martineau's took over the sugarhouse, expanded it to include premises on King Edward St, and continued operating until 1961. 2 Bloomfield House, Old Montague Street, now occupies the site.

  1. Essex Herald, 4 Dec 1838. 

  2. Sugar Refiners & Sugarbakers.