- Metropolitan Borough of Bethnal Green
Bethnal Green Town Hall
Bethnal Green within the County of London
Geography Status Civil parish (1743—1965)
Metropolitan borough (1900—1965)
1911/1961 area 759 acres (3.07 km2) 1931 area 760 acres (3.1 km2) HQ Patriot Square History Origin Bethnal Green hamlet Created 1743 Abolished 1965 Succeeded by London Borough of Tower Hamlets Demography 1911 population
- 1911 density
- 1931 density
- 1961 density
Politics Governance Vestry of the Parish of Bethnal Green (1855—1900)
Bethnal Green Borough Council (1900—1965)
Bethnal Green was a civil parish and a metropolitan borough in the East End of London, England. It was formed as a civil parish in 1743 from the Bethnal Green hamlet in Stepney ancient parish. The vestry became an electing authority to the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1855 and in 1889 it became part of the County of London. In the 1900 reform of local government caused by the London Government Act 1899 the parish became a metropolitan borough which bordered Hackney, Poplar, Stepney and Shoreditch. In 1965 it was abolished and merged into the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
Until 1743 Bethnal Green formed a hamlet within the large parish of Stepney. By the 17th century the settlement had achieved a measure of self government, with its own overseer, constable and beadle. It remained a rural area until the beginning of the 18th century, when the expansion of suburban London saw the development of the Brick Lane area in the south west of the hamlet. The population rapidly increased and in 1743 an act of parliament constituted Bethnal Green as a separate parish.
As well forming a parish for ecclesiastical purposes, Bethnal Green was also created a civil parish with responsibility for relief of the poor and maintenance of highways. The government of the parish was shared by a vestry, governors of the poor and two separate bodies of trustees. A further board of paving and lighting commissioners were established in 1843. Under the Metropolis Management Act 1855 the various local government bodies were replaced by a single incorporated vestry. The new body consisted of 48 elected vestrymen, with the parish divided into four wards: the East and North wards were represented by 9 vestrymen each, and the West and South wards by 15 each. The parish was included within the area of the Metropolitan Board of Works to which it nominated one member. In 1889 the Metropolitan Board was replaced by the London County Council, and Bethnal Green was formally removed from Middlesex to the new County of London.
Creation of the borough
Under the London Government Act 1899 the various vestries and district boards within the County of London were abolished and replaced by metropolitan borough councils. Accordingly, in 1900, a borough council consisting of a mayor, five aldermen and 30 councillors replaced the vestry. The boundaries of the borough and parish were realigned at the same time.
The borough seal depicted a scene based on The Beggar's Daughter of Bednall Green, a poem in Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, published in 1765, but probably dating from the era of Elizabeth I. According to the legend related in the poem, a blind beggar living in Bethnal Green was in fact Henry de Montfort, eldest son of Simon de Montfort, having escaped from the field of the Battle of Evesham in 1265. His identity was revealed at the wedding feast of his daughter Bessie. A depiction of the beggar had appeared on the head of the beadle's staff dating from 1690.
In the first election to the borough council, held on 1 November 1900 the Progressives gained a majority, with 22 of the 30 councillors. The Moderates (supported by the Conservative Party) formed the 8 member opposition group. The Progressives increased their majority to 24 at the 1903 elections, and in 1906 they won all the seats on the council. The Progressives held the council against the Municipal Reform Party until 1919 when the Labour Party gained a majority. Progressive and Liberals regained control at the 1925 election, holding power until 1934.
In 1934, Labour again took control, and from that date held all the seats on the council until the borough's abolition.
For parliamentary elections, Bethnal Green was divided into two constituencies in 1885. Each consisted of two wards of the borough and earlier vestry:
In 1950, the borough's representation was decreased to a single constituency of Bethnal Green, which in 1955 was expanded to also include three wards from the neighbouring Metropolitan Borough of Hackney.
Population and area
The area of the borough was 760 acres (3.1 km2). It included the districts now known as Bethnal Green, Cambridge Heath and Globe Town, stretching to include part of the Boundary Estate in the west and parts of Mile End Park and Victoria Park in the east. In the south its boundary stopped just short of The Blind Beggar pub on Whitechapel Road. The populations recorded in National Censuses were:
Bethnal Green Civil Parish 1801-1899
Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 Population 22,310 33,619 45,676 62,018 74,088 90,193 105,101 120,104 126,961 129,132
Metropolitan Borough 1900-1961
Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 Population 129,680 128,183 117,238 108,194  58,353 47,078
Second World War
During World War II, the Borough suffered from heavy aerial bombing. It is estimated that 80 tons of bombs fell on this area alone, affecting 21,700 houses, destroying 2,233 and making a further 893 uninhabitable. During the course of the aerial bombardment, 555 people were killed, and 400 were seriously injured.
- ^ a b T F T Baker (editor) (1998). "Bethnal Green - Introduction". A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 11: Stepney, Bethnal Green. British History Online. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=22741. Retrieved 13 August 2010.
- ^ a b c d e "Bethnal Green - Local Government". A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 11: Stepney, Bethnal Green. 1998. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=22758. Retrieved 13 August 2010.
- ^ Pevsner, Nikolaus (1952). London except the Cities of London and Westminster. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 65–66.
- ^ Youngs, Frederic A, Jr. (1979). Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Vol.I: Southern England. London: Royal Historical Society. p. 316. ISBN 0901050679.
- ^ An Act to make Hamlet of Bethnal Green a Separate Parish 16 Geo. II c. 28
- ^ Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green (East London History) accessed 3 Dec 2007
- ^ Beningfield, T J (1964). London 1900-1964. Armorial Bearings and Regalia of The London County Council, The Corporation of London and The Metropolitan Boroughs. London: E J Burrow. pp. 49–50.
- ^ Crosley, Richard (1928). London's Coats of Arms and The Stories They Tell. London: Robert Scott. pp. 46–49.
- ^ Election results as reported in The Times, 3 November 1900; 4 November 1903; 3 November 1906; 2 November 1909; 2 November 1912; 4 November 1919; 4 November 1925; 3 November 1928; 4 November 1931; 3 November 1934; 3 November 1937; 2 November 1945; 7 May 1949; 7 May 1953; 11 May 1956; 8 May 1959; 12 May 1962
- ^ Statistical Abstract for London, 1901 (Vol. IV).
- ^ Bethnal Green MetB: Census Tables at Vision of Britain accessed on 14 Dec 2006
- ^ The census was suspended for World War II
- ^ Bethnal Green: Building and Social Conditions from 1915 to 1945, A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 11: Stepney, Bethnal Green (1998), pp. 132-135 accessed: 12 July 2008.
Local government districts abolished or transferred by the London Government Act 1963 London · CC
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