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We must preserve our Labour Exchange icon of East End history

PUBLISHED: 21:54 26 February 2009 | UPDATED: 14:08 05 October 2010

Dear Ed, THE old employment exchange building in Burdett Road, Limehouse, is an impressive neo-Georgian icon to East London’s Labour history. Rather than being demolished for yet another block of flats on the Limehouse Cut canal, it could be converted to flats or a social enterprise centre for small businesses

Dear Ed,

THE former employment exchange building in Burdett Road, Limehouse, is an impressive neo-Georgian structure and an icon of East London’s Labour history (East London Advertiser, February 12).

Rather than being demolished for yet another block of flats on the Limehouse Cut canal, it could be converted to flats or a social enterprise centre for small businesses.

Thanks to MP Jim Fitzpatrick, The Twentieth Century Society, Save Britain’s Heritage and others, my request for local listing’ and inclusion in an extension to the St Anne’s Conservation Area is now being considered by Tower Hamlets Council.

Also included in my request are two buildings in Dod Street nearby, one being the East End’s only surviving 19th century large furniture factory, and two more by the Limehouse Cut which are the only surviving warehouses built to store and distribute imported, processed and fresh food. All four buildings were damaged in air raids in the Second World War, then repaired soon after and adapted in the 1990s as the main parts of the Limehouse Court business centre.

They are now the only four industrial buildings which survive from the time when Dod Street was used on Sundays for big open-air meetings. The most famous of these open-air gatherings were to support the 1888 Bow Match Girls’ strike and the 1889 Great Dock Strike.

Tower Hamlets cannot refuse permission to replace the old Labour Exchange and the other four historic buildings without local listing’ and conservation area’ status.

But only the council has the power to protect the five buildings from demolition.

I am therefore asking for support for local listing’ and conservation area’ status, for people to email Tower Hamlets council’s Development & Renewal director Aman Dalvi, or write to him at the Town Hall in Mulberry Place, Blackwall, E14.

Tom Ridge

Welwyn Street, Bethnal Green

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