ADVERTISER 150: So here’s to the future now, it’s only just begun
PUBLISHED: 00:00 25 December 2016 | UPDATED: 14:31 29 December 2016
We’ve reached the end of the line with our nightly series on the East London Advertiser’s 150th anniversary by looking at the fall from grace of an elected mayor and the start of London’s ‘super tube’ giving hope for the East End’s future. It’s how we’ll be shaping up for the next 150 years reporting the news...
2015: The future is bright for Whitechapel, after controversial mayor Lutfur Rahman snaps up a deal in one of his last acts before his fall from power to buy the old London Hospital from the NHS for a “bargain basement” price of just £9 million.
The “run-down pile of bricks needing some attention”, as the East London Advertiser describes the purchase, is to be turned into a new civic centre for Tower Hamlets Council “after the decorators give the place a lick of paint or two”. It’s a prime site at the heart of the East End.
But the man who got the deal isn’t there to see it through.
Mayor Rahman is found guilty of corrupt practices following a six-week High Court trial into the 2014 election that is now declared void.
He is barred from office for five years for malpractice after the £1 million election trial ruling.
The 2014 election which returned Rahman for his second term had been marred by postal vote rigging, intimidation, threats at polling stations and ballot paper tampering.
BBC London’s evening rush hour news programme is transmitted from Bethnal Green’s Rich Mix centre on the day of the High Court ruling, with live studio reaction from politicians, election pundits and the East London Advertiser.
The election is re-run in May, 2015, which Labour’s John Biggs from the London Assembly wins, ironically having been defeated by the rigged 2014 polls.
The new mayor agrees the Town Hall project to convert the old London Hospital should go ahead, to be ready by 2022 as the centrepiece of the Whitechapel Masterplan regeneration zone.
Whitechapel is to be the hub of London’s East End in the 21st century, with Crossrail under construction through the East End and ready to open in 2018.
But the future Whitechapel may not be for everyone. Sadly, the ancient Whitechapel Bell Foundry, Britain’s longest surviving manufactory established in 1570, looks like it won’t survive.
The foundry, which the Queen visits in 2009, stops activities by May, 2017, at the Whitechapel Road works which it has occupied since 1738. Owners Alan and Kathryn Hughes are looking for a possible buyer for the business.
The foundry, which has been four generations in Alan’s family since 1904, cast Big Ben in 1858 for the rebuilding of Parliament and the bells at Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral. It also cast America’s Liberty Bell in Philadelphia during Colonial days which was rung to summon the city’s residents to hear the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
By that year, the London Hospital is already well established in Whitechapel. The original Whitechapel Infirmary is founded in 1740 by philanthropists “for the sick and poor amongst the merchant seaman and manufacturing classes of east London” with just a shilling (5p) in the bank.
The historic Grade II-listed hospital site has been standing empty for two years since the Royal London moved in 2013 to its new “blue rinse” towers complex, just behind.
Turning it into the new Tower Hamlets civic centre by 2022 brings the council closer to the heart of the community, it is argued. The £5m annual lease on its present Mulberry Place HQ is up in 2020 anyway!
The regeneration is inspired by the Crossrail project with its Whitechapel interchange hub.
AND SO TO THE FUTURE AND THE START OF THE NEXT 150 YEARS REPORTING ON THE EAST END...
2018: Crossrail is due to open under the name ‘Elizabeth’ line giving east London a direct link to Heathrow Airport taking just over half-an-hour to get there, with 12 trains every 60 minutes in each direction.
The £15 billion project had got under way in 2009 when Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Tory London Mayor Boris Johnson had arrived to see the start of construction of the first station, the new Canary Wharf.
By 2013, two giant tunnel-boring machines known as ‘Elizabeth’ and ‘Victoria’ begin “the big dig” from Canning Town through the Canary Wharf, Whitechapel and Liverpool Street construction sites and on to Farringdon, where they meet two tunnelling machines coming the other way from Paddington and the West End.
One of the first Crossrail stations nearing completion is Canary Wharf in 2013, a massive complex under the old Millwall Docks.
Soon after, the first platform at Liverpool Street is completed, where excavations uncover 300 skeleton remains from the medieval burial grounds of Bedlam, the old Bethlehem mental asylum.
Other artefacts unearthed include Roman coins, pottery and everyday goods. But the oldest find of all is at Canary Wharf, where amethyst quartz gemstone dating back 55 million years is unearthed—that takes some beating.
By 2018, you can hop on a train to Heathrow in 39 minutes from Canary Wharf, 36 from Whitechapel or just 33 from Liverpool Street.
The foundations are being laid for the next 150 years, just in time for the East London Advertiser’s 300th anniversary in November 2166, when we report for your descendants.
NOW TIME TO CATCH UP ON A SELECTED HISTORY OF LONDON’S EAST END IF YOU’VE MISSED THIS NIGHTLY SERIES...
The past 150 years have been eventful—from the first Cholera outbreak to Jack the Ripper, the Elephant Man, building Tower Bridge, Siege of Sidney Street, Nurse Edith Cavell’s execution, Suffragettes setting up HQ, Poplar rates strike, Battle of Cable Street, Blitz begins at the London Docks, Bethnal Green air-raid shelter disaster, first V1 and V2 bombs to hit London, Queen’s motorcade tour, downfall of the Krays, Dudgeon’s Wharf disaster, ‘Free George Davis’ campaign, the violent ‘Fortress Wapping’ print strike at Rupert Murdoch’s News International, IRA bomb Canary Wharf and Islamists wreck Aldgate train in 7/7 London bombings...
The East London Advertiser was also the starting point for some media stars in their early careers. Here they tell their own story of life on the paper: