Christmas in Brick Lane as ancient ‘Spitalfields headborough’ joins mayor to switch on arch lights

Big Switch on... Christmas Lights at Spitalfields 'Gate', Brick Lane's famous arch

Big Switch on... Christmas Lights at Spitalfields 'Gate', Brick Lane's famous arch - Credit: Archant

Even the freezing cold couldn’t prevent the crowds turning out in Brick Lane this-evening in the heart of London’s East End to see the Christmas Lights being switch on.

Big Switch on... Christmas Lights at Spitalfields 'Gate', Brick Lane's famous arch

Big Switch on... Christmas Lights at Spitalfields 'Gate', Brick Lane's famous arch - Credit: Archant

The famous archway entrance at the beginning of ‘The Lane’ has been decorated in festive lights which were switched on with a count-down from 10 by spectators as the Christmas ‘lift off’ went live at 5pm.

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets arrived for the big switch-on... but took ‘localism’ seriously with a special guest invited to join him.

Big Switch on... Christmas Lights at Spitalfields 'Gate', Brick Lane's famous arch

Big Switch on... Christmas Lights at Spitalfields 'Gate', Brick Lane's famous arch - Credit: Archant

John Biggs asked the new ‘Headborough of Spitalfields’ onto the makeshift podium at the beginning of the East End’s famous ‘Curry Mile’.

The significance wasn’t lost on the spectators when local campaigner David Donogue arrived, clad in black gown and an 18th-century three-cornered hat.

Big Switch on... Christmas Lights at Spitalfields 'Gate', Brick Lane's famous arch

Big Switch on... Christmas Lights at Spitalfields 'Gate', Brick Lane's famous arch - Credit: Archant


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Donoghue is the first elected ‘Headborough of Spitalfields’ for 370 years with the recognition of the new Spitalfields Neighbourhood Planning Forum by Tower Hamlets Council earlier this year.

The veteran campaigner—who derailed developers’ plans to throw up a “Berlin Wall of skyscrapers” on the vast, former Bishopsgate railway goodsyard sidings at the other end of Brick Lane—was elected to the ancient parish post at the forum’s first annual meeting in October.

Big Switch on... Christmas Lights at Spitalfields 'Gate', Brick Lane's famous arch

Big Switch on... Christmas Lights at Spitalfields 'Gate', Brick Lane's famous arch - Credit: Archant

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The Christmas Lights at the Brick Lane Arch which forum members refer to as ‘the Spitalfields Gate’ is exactly on the ancient parish boundary between the old parish and its more famous Whitechapel neighbour.

So Mayor Biggs, who won last year’s election on a manifesto of “transparent localism”, brought in Spitalfields’ new headborough to help light up the arched gateway leading into ‘The Lane’ now at the centre of a revived neighbourhood parish identity.

Big Switch on... Christmas Lights at Spitalfields 'Gate', Brick Lane's famous arch

Big Switch on... Christmas Lights at Spitalfields 'Gate', Brick Lane's famous arch - Credit: Archant

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