South-east corner of Dundas and Adelaide Streets
Adelaide Street was the eastern boundary of London until 1885. Beyond this lay London East, an industrial community that had its origins in a foundry established in 1856 by Murray Anderson (London’s first mayor). Anderson’s foundry was located on the west side of Adelaide across from Lilley’s Corners, and its presence stimulated further industrial development in the area.
Charles Lilley moved to London as a young man and worked as a telegraph operator before becoming a grocer. Around 1869 he moved his business to the southeast corner of Dundas and Adelaide streets, where he also ran the Crown Hotel. In 1871, he built a two-storey block on the corner, and by 1873, five brick stores on Adelaide Street. It is a mystery that the inscription on the corner of the Lilley Block reads “1867,” since there were no buildings on the site at that date.
The post office took the name “Lilley’s Corners” when it was opened in 1872, with Charles Lilley as postmaster. Two years later, a telegraph office was established in the same building.
Lilley was also active in local politics and was elected a London East councillor in 1875, and a deputy reeve in 1880. In 1884, he became London East’s first mayor and helped negotiate its amalgamation with the City of London in 1885, after which he served as an alderman. In 1886, Lilley retired as postmaster and opened the Crown Livery on Marshall Street at the rear of the building. Charles Lilley died in 1927 at the age of 94 and was buried in Woodland Cemetery.
Plaque placed on November 15, 1980.