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Rachel Keeling's memory lives on as Bethnal Green nursery joins Book Day festival

PUBLISHED: 13:03 07 March 2016 | UPDATED: 10:01 08 March 2016

International Day at Bethnal Green's Rachel Keeling nursery school

International Day at Bethnal Green's Rachel Keeling nursery school

Rachel Keeling nursery

Youngsters from schools and nurseries taking part in World Book Day included toddlers from London's deprived East End.

Parents join in Reading Day activities at Rachel Keeling nursery schoolParents join in Reading Day activities at Rachel Keeling nursery school

Teachers and staff at Bethnal Green’s Keeling nursery school were among those organising activities for their youngsters.

The nursery has a proud tradition of spreading a love of reading and books to all children.

It’s part of the nursery’s half-century history when it was founded in the 1960s to bring education to the disadvantaged working classes.

“World Book Day was an opportunity to celebrate the books we love and share with each other,” the nursery’s Pam Jones said.

1962... Rachel Keeling nursery school opens to bring early lerning to Bethnal Green's working class families [Metropolitan Archives]1962... Rachel Keeling nursery school opens to bring early lerning to Bethnal Green's working class families [Metropolitan Archives]

“This year we decided to bring our favourite book to school—from Japanese fairy tales to Dinosaur dictionaries. Our nursery was full of families sharing books and some wonderful cooking linked to the stories.”

The nursery school’s annual international evening was timed this year with World Book Day, to bring the community together for learning and for Bethnal Green’s rich diversity.

Families donated food from around the world, some children arriving dressed in national costume, joined by Bollywood dancers and a group of Somali parents performing their traditional folk songs.

The nursery school first opened in 1962 by the mayor of Bethnal Green was named in honour of one of the East End’s prominent suffragettes, Rachel Keeling, who was jailed in 1908 for her suffragette activities. She was later elected to the London County Council as a Labour councillor for Bethnal Green in 1934 for the next seven years including the Blitz.

Rachel Keeling died in 1969 at 84, seven years after the nursery named after her in Morpeth Street, off Roman Road, was opened. There is also a tower block in Claredale Street, off Hackney Road, named after her—London’s first high-rise council flats built in 1958.

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