ADVERTISER 150: So here’s to the future now, it’s only just begun

Just a glimpse... some of our front pages over the past 150 years

Just a glimpse... some of our front pages over the past 150 years - Credit: Archant

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...

1866: Our first front page on Saturday, November 17

1866: Our first front page on Saturday, November 17 - Credit: Archant

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.

2010: Lutfur Rahman on Whitechapel walkabout with Ken Livingstone and supporters winning his first t

2010: Lutfur Rahman on Whitechapel walkabout with Ken Livingstone and supporters winning his first term as Tower Hamlets mayor - Credit: Archant

Mayor Rahman is found guilty of corrupt practices following a six-week High Court trial into the 2014 election that is now declared void.

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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.

1966: Our front page... centenery edition

1966: Our front page... centenery edition - Credit: Archant

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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.

2009: Queen visits Whiktechapel bell foundry [photo: Adrian Dennis/PA Wire]

2009: Queen visits Whiktechapel bell foundry [photo: Adrian Dennis/PA Wire] - Credit: PA Wire/PA Photos

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.

2016; Crossrail's Whitechapel construction site [photo: Ray Schram]

2016; Crossrail's Whitechapel construction site [photo: Ray Schram] - Credit: Crossrail

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.

2013: Crossrail construction digs up Bedlam burial grounds at Liverpool Street [photo: Museum of Lon

2013: Crossrail construction digs up Bedlam burial grounds at Liverpool Street [photo: Museum of Lonsdon Archaeology] - Credit: MOLA

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.


2018: How Crossrail's Whitechapel station will look

2018: How Crossrail's Whitechapel station will look - Credit: Crossrail

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.

The future... how Whitechapel will look

The future... how Whitechapel will look - Credit: LBTH

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.


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...

1865: Booth sets up Salvation Army in an East End rife with crime and debauchery

1866: Saturday, November 17, 1866: The East London Advertiser’s first edition

1866: Mildmay Mission is born into East End’s typhus epidemic

1867: Thomas Barnardo begins rescue of streets urchins of Whitechapel

1888: Match girls’ strike changes industrial attitudes

1888: Terror stalks Whitechapel as Jack the Ripper murders women on the streets

1890: Elephant Man dies at London Hospital

1894: Prince of Wales opens Tower Bridge

1900: Thousands evicted to make way for ‘showpiece’ Boundary Estate

1901: East End marks passing of ‘Victorian Age’ with Queen’s death

1905: Edwardian poverty—‘slave’ worker dies from overwork and tramp dies of starvation

1911: Siege Sidney Street makes headlines around the world

1912: Titanic and what photographer finds in Spitalfields after drama at sea

1912: Garment workers strike over ‘stitch up’ sweatshop conditions

1913: ‘Farthing Bundles’ of toys to children in bid to tackle poverty

1915: A world at war and Nurse Edith Cavell’s execution

1914: Men at the Western Front—while Suffragettes set up battle HQ in Bow

1917: German air-raid hits Poplar school killing 18 children

1921: Poplar Rates Strike as 28 councillors go to jail to save the poor

1926: Docks shut in the General Strike

1931: Ghandi stays in East End for Government’s Future of India conference

1936: Battle of Cable Street makes headlines

1940: Wartime censorship stops reporting Blitz details

1940: East End’s daily life in air-raid shelters in the Blitz

1940: Firemen killed in worst ever fire-brigade tragedy in the Blitz

1941: East End schools wrecked in the Blitz by nightly air raids

1943: Britain’s worst wartime civilian disaster at Bethnal Green is covered up

1945: Hitler’s last V2 rocket attack hits Whitechapel

1945: East End celebrates VE Day

1953: Cheering crowds mob Queen’s East End motorcade

1959: Downfall of Krays’ ‘empire of evil’

1969: Dudgeon’s Wharf disaster—death on the waterfront

1960-70: The Swinging Sixties and it’s ‘all change’

1975: ‘George Davis is Innocent’ campaign to free bank robber

1996: IRA bomb Canary Wharf

2005: Aldgate train wrecked in London 7/7 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:

Richard Madeley makes his name here first, before going on telly

‘You don’t have to pay me if I’m rubbish’ Julia Hartley-Brewer tells editor

Cockney rebel reporter Steve Harvey admits turning ‘scruffy’ just to get bullet

Fleet Street ‘Royal’ snapper Arthur Edwards gets first break in the East End Boxing writer Len Whaley’s round with the Advertiser lasts 50 years


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