Mayflower Primary School in Poplar and the Green Family

Liveryman Mr Jonathan Green today gave a virtual presentation to fifty Year 2 pupils from the Mayflower Primary School in Poplar.  Jonathan’s talk was about his great, great, great grandfather, George Green (1767 – 1849) of the Blackwall Yard, and a former member of the Shipwrights’ Company.  Jonathan’s talk was a repeat of one he gave in person in early 2019.

The Mayflower Primary School was started in 1843 by George Green as Trinity School, to be beside the Trinity Congregational Church which he had built in 1841.  Richard Green, George’s eldest son, took over as Treasurer of the school in 1849.  In 1872 the school was transferred to the School Board of London.  It was bombed in 1917, resulting in the death of 18 pupils. Rebuilt in the 1920s by the LCC, the school is now the Mayflower Primary School.

Another school that owes its existence to George Green is the school which bears his name on the Isle of Dogs.  Originally called Crisp Street School it was founded in 1828 in the East India Dock Road at the corner of Crisp Street for the accommodation of 120 boys and 250 girls and can be regarded as the first George Green School. The school remained on this site until 1884 when it was replaced by one at the corner of Kirby Street and the East India Dock Road, still standing to this very day.  The Shipwrights’ Company retains very close links with George Green’s School and provides a School Governor.

On 21 February 1849 George Green died at Blackwall in his 82nd year. On the day of his funeral the shops in Blackwall and Poplar were closed as a mark of respect and almost the whole population of the district lined the route from his house to Trinity Chapel.  Every vessel in the East and West India Docks flew its flag at half mast, with ships in the river demonstrating their sympathy.  George Green was buried in Trinity Congregational Chapel which was destroyed in the Blitz in 1944 and his tomb alone now remains in the gardens that have replaced the churchyard, adjacent to Mayflower Primary School.  Jonathan Green is hoping to help arrange the restoration of George Green’s time-ravaged tomb when conditions permit.

A photograph of Jonathan Green following his presentation is above, complete with Green’s House Flag, the origins of which are that when in 1824 George Green purchased the passenger sailing vessel ‘Sir Edward Paget’, the ship was given as a house flag a square white ensign with the red cross of St George through the centre.  This, however, was an Admiral’s flag so, when outward bound, she was ordered by the Port Admiral on arrival at Spithead to change the flag immediately.  A blue square was hastily sewn in the centre of the flag.  When the Green and Wigram families later split up in 1843, the matter of retention of the house flag was settled by the toss of a coin: the Wigrams won and retained the original flag while the Greens put the red cross over the blue square.  This remains the emblem of the current George Green School to this day.