Detail of 153 Fenchurch Street | Samuel Tull, Ropemaker

Proving that it always pays to look out for silver linings, I spotted some lovely details on 153 Fenchurch Street recently and – as ever – looking up offered an insight into London’s history!

Last week I got caught in a particularly heavy downpour in the City of London and ended up sheltering under the huge glass porch of the Walkie Talkie.

Biding the time until the rain passed I was looking at the cluster of buildings opposite and recalled a little detail that had been mentioned in a recent City of London course lecture.

153 Fenchurch Street

153 Fenchurch Street

Pevsner records no.153 as a Dutch red brick building dating from 1888 and designed by Osborn & Russell.

153 Fenchurch Street

But he also mentions the “diminutive relief” that alludes to its history; two men in a boat beneath an announcement of;  TULL Established 1740, 153 Fenchurch St.

153 Fenchurch Street

Tull refers to a family business of twine and ropemakers based here. Close to the Pool of London it was a good location for all things boat-related.

Lloyds Register of Shipping

Examining the sign a little closer you can make out that one of the figures holds a net and they are sitting in a Peterboat. The Peterboat was a traditional Thames fishing boat used since Medieval times (thank you to the brilliant Caroline’s Miscellany blog for the info).

153 Fenchurch Street

Above the boat is a doublet, a kind of long men’s coat, which was perhaps part of the logo of the company.

The last will and testament of Samuel Tull, Rope Maker of Fenchurch Street in the City of London is held at the National Archives and dates from 7 August 1851. A witness for the will is listed as James Evans, 153 Fenchurch Street so maybe the business passed into his hands after Samuel’s death? Samuel left all his personal property to his wife Elizabeth.

So even if this find prompts more questions than answers, it does show it’s always worth looking up in the City of London!

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  • Stewart Francis


    I posted a comment earlier, but it has not appeared, so I’m trying again! It was to congratulate Katie on her trained or natural eye for such details/delights and her excellent camerawork, together with a point about the benefits of the British weather!

    March 4, 2020 at 10:11 am
  • Wendy Johnson


    So interesting. If I ever get back to London, I’ll be looking for this!

    March 4, 2020 at 3:16 pm
  • Iain Inkster


    Absolutely fascinating! No idea how many times I walked past this building without a second glance. Thank you.

    March 5, 2020 at 5:37 pm

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