22 February, 2009

George Lansbury celebrations

George Lansbury, an honest politician.

Events to celebrate the life of George Lansbury, Pauper Guardian, LCC Councillor, Poplar Borough Councillor, MP, cabinet minister, Brixton prisoner and leader of the Labour Party (this one by default). Diamond Geezer has blogged in depth about him, so I’ll blog about the walk. A large crowd had gathered outside Bow Road Tube station including some of my Co√∂perative friends from Hertfordshire and Essex but not a friend from Tower Hamlets who claimed to have been distracted by a tall… but we won’t go into that. Four groups led off to St Clements Hospital, the former City workhouse, to introduce Lansbury as a Pauper Guardian and how he uncovered corruption in the workhouse, next off to see some other sites less well connected, then the site of Lansbury’s house destroyed by a bomb in 1944 and now the site of a block of council flats and a memorial garden. Past the former Poplar Town Hall and the statue of Gladstone paid for by a deduction from the wages of the match girls at the Brymay factory and hence with the statues hands painted red to symbolise the blood of the match girls on Gladstone’s hands. After that into Bow church an old building for some tea and cakes. Many thanks to the man who pointed out the squirrel in the stained glass east window.

The Memorial service was also held in Bow Church and although my companion was impatient to get away to the hell hole of a tiny ‘theatre’ bar he frequents, the singing and the preaching by Ken Leach were excellent, although Bunyan’s good masculine words were mangled and ‘He who would true valour see’ was a curious hybrid of Dearmer and Bunyan but not the usual namby pamby Dearmer. The Lansbury family were out in force although not Miss Angela Lansbury who was playing Madame Arcarti on Broadway. One professor stated that he had been inspired by Lansbury to give up his riches, his big house with two cars to live modestly in a poor district. I’m all for professors living where they want to but of course all the people who do live in the poor district by necessity would, should they come into a professor’s wealth, move out to a better district and buy two cars. I know I would!

From Travels around London

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