Friday, 12 September 2008


West Ham's club badge depicts a pair of crossed hammers, representing the club's origins as the Thames Ironworks workers' team. The Ironworks built warships such as HMS Duncan, HMS Cornwallis, HMS Thunderer and HMS Sans Pareil. Thus the provenance of West Ham's nicknames, the Hammers (to outsiders) and the Irons (to the club's passionate fans).

The castle featured in the badge alludes to the Boleyn Castle, a local residence of Anne Boleyn, or to Old Castle Swifts, another forerunner of the club - or possibly both.

The club's famous claret and light blue colours derive from the house colours of Arnold Hills' Thames Ironworks. Legend has it that West Ham's first claret and blue kit was in fact stolen from Aston Villa! A West Ham player who was a sprinter of national repute was challenged to a race by four Aston Villa players and won. The Villa players were unable to settle the wager and so one of them, who had responsibility for washing the players' kit, handed over a complete set, subsequently reporting the items 'missing'. 

West Ham is of course the club of London's famous "East End".  The East End is the oldest and most colourful part of London. Geoffrey Chaucer lived in Aldgate during the 14th century and wrote of "stratford-atte-bow" in The Canterbury Tales. William Shakespeare (a one-time resident of Bishopsgate) and Ben Jonson lived and wrote about the East End, as did Samuel Pepys and Captain Cook. Several books by Charles Dickens such as Oliver Twist, are set in the area. The East End has long been the most dynamic and fertile area of Britain's capital: from the cockney workers oft-immortalised on stage and screen; to the waves of immigrants landing at East London's docks: Huguenot, Irish, Jewish, Chinese and Indian. 

From the music halls to the boxing clubs the East End has a diverse history, from the founding of the Salvation Army and the Suffragette movement, to the casting of the Liberty Bell that rang in the US Declaration of Independence; from the Whitechapel meetings of Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin, to Jack the Ripper, the rise of the famous Brick Lane, and nowadays, the well-known British soap opera EastEnders. Today, the East End is at the heart of London's creative arts and is a home to financial workers, cockneys and immigrants alike.  No other place in Britain is as legendary across the world or captures the imagination as vividly as London's famous East End. 


"In the summer of 1895, when the clanging of "hammers" was heard on the banks of Father Thames and the great warships were rearing their heads above the Victoria Dock Road, a few enthusiasts, with the love of football within them, were talking about the grand old game and the formation of a club for the workers of the Thames Iron Works Limited. There were platers and riveters in the Limited who had chased the big ball in the north country. There were men among them who had learned to give the subtle pass and to urge the leather goalwards. No thought of professionalism, I may say, was ever contemplated by the founders. They meant to run their club on amateur lines and their first principle was to choose their team from men in the works."