London Wiki
PostCode District E1, E1W
Borough London Borough of Tower Hamlets
OS Grid Reference

Ratcliff is an little used name for area now considered southern Stepney in East London and is part of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, located on the north bank of the River Thames.


Ratcliff was once a hamlet in the historic county of Middlesex,[1] and was known for shipbuilding.[1] It was a important sea departure area by the sixteenth century. Such as [Hugh Willoughby] and Martin Frobisher.[1] Ratcliffe at this time also had the largest population in Stepney. Having 3500 residents.[1]

Around 1669. Almost 200 Presbyterians were worshipping inside a warehouse in Ratcliffe. There was a purpose built Quaker meeting house in Schoolhouse Lane that had been built near the same time.[2]

Ratcliff is the site of one of London biggest fires in 1794. It began at Clovers Barge Yard. The flames quickly spread to a nearby barge loaded with saltpetre. This was a substance used to make gunpowder and matches. This exploded. Causing the fire to spread and destroying Ratcliff.[3]

Ratcliffe was divided between the parishes of Limehouse and Stepney until 1866. It was constituted a separate civil parish. It was then administered by Limehouse District Board of Works. In 1900 it joined the Metropolitan Borough of Stepney.[4]

The Stepney Poor Union had it main offices and casual wards in Ratcliff, until the building was turned into a children’s home in 1909.[5] This was on York Street West, later 45A Barnes Street.[6]

As the warehouses fell into decline with the closing of the Port of London. They were not allowed to stand and were cleared for redevelopment.[7]


The D3 and N550 serve The Highway and at Free Trade Wharf.[8]

More information here

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Archived copy. Archived from the original on 26 December 2005. Retrieved on 2005-12-15. accessed 20 April 2008