The Beehive

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Common lodging house at 63a Brick Lane, owned by John Cooney who was also the proprietor of Cooney's Lodging House (formerly Smith's) at 55 Flower and Dean Street. Much of the property sided onto Princes (Princelet) Street and possibly was part of the lodging house at 59 Brick Lane[1].

The lodging house could hold over 200 occupants, which probably earned it the name 'The Beehive' and resulted in it being a single enumeration district in census returns[2]. It was classed as 'black' (vicious, semi-criminal) in Charles Booth's 1898 map of London Poverty. The surveyor's original notebook entries describe it thus:

"Thieves, prostitutes, bullies - one of Cooney's houses - Cooney has many lodging houses of doubtful reputation in the neighbourhood"[3]

As one of only a few lodging houses on Brick Lane in this neighbourhood, it may have been where Mary Jane Kelly and Joseph Barnett lodged prior to their moving to Miller's Court in January 1888[4]. This is, however, merely conjecture.

According to a contemporary newspaper report, a long-standing resident of the Beehive was detained for questioning following his suspicious disappearance around the time of the 'double event':

A man known in Spitalfields by the name of "Parnell" has been arrested on suspicion of connection with the Whitechapel murders. He had long been a regular lodger at the Beehive Chambers corner of Brick-lane and Prince-street, but absented himself on the night of the last murders, and also on the following night, and he has been very irregular in his attendance there since that time. The deputy of the lodging-house thought it his duty to report the circumstances to the police, and the fellow was arrested when he got up this morning.

At the Commercial-street Police-station he said his right name was Andrews, and that he was a book hawker. He explained that he had slept at another house on the nights in question, and gave such a fair account of himself that the police believe him innocent, though he will be detained until further inquiries have been made. The prisoner is not more than 22 years of age, and very boyish in his appearance.[5]

'The Beehive' was damaged irreparably during the Second World War[6].


  1. Goad Fire Insurance Map 1890
  2. Census reports 1891 & 1901
  3. LSE - Booth Online, B351 p.127
  4. Kelly inquest papers - MJ/SPC, NE1888, Box 3, Case paper 19 (London Metropolitan Archives)
  5. The Star, 12th October 1888
  6. The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps, 1939-45, Ed. Anne Saunders (London Topographical Society 2005)