Renson, Israel, 1906-1986, chemist and local historian
Immediate source of acquisition:
Dates of deposit: February & March 1987
Deposited by: Mr Peter Street
Administrative / biographical background:
Israel Renson was born in 1906, the third child of Jewish immigrants from Russia. Mr Renson Senior was born in about 1860 in Mir, in European Russia and had left Russia about 1890 to become the minister to a congregation at Bath. After a dispute over religious orthodoxy he left in 1892 and came to London, moving many times in the East End. Israel Renson was born in Scarborough Street, but in 1910 the family moved to Colvestone Crescent, Hackney. He went to Sigdon Road School from 1911-16 and then to Dalston Central School. Between 1917 and 1918 he was evactuated to Reading.
After leaving school in 1923 Israel Renson was apprenticed to Daniel Vahrman, a chemist in Fournier Street, just off Brick Lane until 1926. While serving his apprenticeship he also attended evening classes at Chelsea Polytechnic to do the examinations required by the Pharmaceutical Society.
Israel's departure from the Fournier Street business co-incided with the period of the General Strike and it was this period that began his strong socialist leanings, though he had attended many meetings in the East End from 1919 onwards, and sympathised with the Socialist Party of Great Britain, though he never became a member. This arose from his belief that active socialism and running a business were incompatable.
After a brief and unsuccessful job with a large chemist's firm, Israel Renson went to work for a chemist in Well Street from 1927 to 1935, after which he was able to start up his own business in Classic Mansions, on the south side of Well Street. His political interests continued and he also went to Communist Party meetings in the 1930s. Out of his socialist beliefs came a text on the abolition of money; this was published just after the Second World War as 'Money must go' under the pseudonym 'Philoren'. Israel was also active in local affairs, taking a great interest in the local history of Hackney. He was a founder member of the Hackney Society and the Victoria Park Society, and assisted in publications, as well as producing his own work on Broadway Market. He lived with his eldest sister for many years in Skipworth Road and died after a short illness in 1986.