Located in the heart of London's East End, the Thames Ironworks might be described as characteristic of the industrial and social landscape of the Victorian era. This successful enterprise, headed by the respected Hills family, undertook projects in shipping, civil engineering, electrical engineering and motoring. But as well as providing employment, the ironworks was also central to the social lives of its workers. Its football team, founded by Arnold Hills in 1895, was destined to become world famous as West Ham United. Author Brian Belton explores how the Victorian values of commercialism, religion, philanthropy and patriarchy that made this giant of industry a success were inextricably linked with a sense of fair play, competitive spirit and the growth of football as a national obsession.
Peppered with the songs and memories of a treasured cockney region, this is an entertaining portrait of ships, industry, sport and, most of all, the people of the Docklands communities that relied on the ironworks for their daily bread.