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Review of the year 2019

PUBLISHED: 07:00 31 December 2019

Prince William flies into Royal London Hospital for the air ambulance 30th anniversary. Picture: Peter Livingstone

Prince William flies into Royal London Hospital for the air ambulance 30th anniversary. Picture: Peter Livingstone

peterliving.com (peterliving.com (Photographer) - [None]

As we prepare to say goodbye to 2019. we look back at some of the stories we brought you throughout the year

Pete Chappell and the Bethnal Green mural of his dad Peter Snr daubed in Sclater Street. Picture: Mike BrookePete Chappell and the Bethnal Green mural of his dad Peter Snr daubed in Sclater Street. Picture: Mike Brooke

January

The year begins literally with a flying visit by Prince William who pilots a helicopter to the Royal London Hospital to mark the 30th anniversary of Whitechapel's air ambulance service.

Tower Hamlets councillor and solicitor Mohammad Harun resigns while the town hall investigates his housing fraud. He tells the Advertiser he will clear his name — but is later convicted after pleading guilty in court.

Former Commonwealth middleweight boxing champ Rod Douglas is now walking again after starting therapy at Ability Bow gymnasium following a stroke. The 54-year-old gold medallist was in a wheelchair for two months.

Girls rev up for their Go-kart grand prix at Isle of Dogs' Mudchute Park. Picture: London PlayGirls rev up for their Go-kart grand prix at Isle of Dogs' Mudchute Park. Picture: London Play

Both Tower Hamlets MPs vote against Theresa May's Brexit deal in an historic government defeat in the Commons rejecting the Brussels negotiations.

Beefeaters at the Tower of London are among royal palace workers staging a strike in a pensions dispute accusing the Royal Palaces of "wasting money buying cake" instead of giving them a fair deal.

February

The Ride Out festival went through Tower Hamlets. Picture: Jed LeicesterThe Ride Out festival went through Tower Hamlets. Picture: Jed Leicester

Pete Chappell vows to complete the book his dad Peter Snr didn't finish about his campaign in the 1970s to free convicted bank robber George Davies.

Pete remembers growing up in Mile End, being taken on protest marches when he was five and getting hauled in by the police for a sit-down protest organised by his dad.

Peter Snr died in 2018 at 78 before completing the book about his infamous G Davis is Innocent OK campaign.

An investigation is started after a 72-year-old recluse who had confronted drug addicts lurking outside his home in Bethnal Green dies in police custody. He had been handcuffed at his flat in Gibraltar Walk on suspicion of malicious communication.

Graffiti mural shows faces of people struggling to survive global climate crisis. Picture: OxfamGraffiti mural shows faces of people struggling to survive global climate crisis. Picture: Oxfam

A "floating islands" installation by artist Mürüde Mehmet and Swanlea School pupils made from discarded plastic bottles appears at Canary Wharf's winter lights festival, to show the waste created by throwaway plastic. They drift on a pond to mimic how plastic ends up in the Thames and out to sea.

March

Children are recruited to help tidy the streets in the East End's annual Big Clean Up by the council, with all hands to the pump.

Smokers still drop cigarette butts for others to clear up. Eight-year-old Inayah has a message for the litterbugs: "People should pick their litter up themselves and chuck it in the bin."

A new policy to decide what's graffiti and what's street art is agreed by the council to speed up removing unsightly daubings while protecting mural street art.

Lottery funding is given to Bow Arts to research how Victorian chemist Alexander Parkes' invention of plastic in his Hackney Wick lab in 1856 has had a global impact ever since.

Former Page 3 pin-up Maureen Flanagan holds her Bethnal Green charity bash with former Kray gang members. The 78-year-old grandmum, a tabloid model in the 1970s, invites ex-villains like Freddie Foreman who disposed of bodies including Jack McVittie murdered in 1967 by Reggie Kray.

April

A fleet of zero-emission vehicles driven by children takes to the streets on the Isle of Dogs before racing in London Play charity's Girl Kart Grand Prix in their self-made go-karts at Mudchute Park.

Pedestrians get their skates on to prevent moves to let cyclists ride through the Greenwich foot tunnel under the Thames. The tunnel between the Isle of Dogs and the Cutty Sark has been a battleground between walkers and those cyclists speeding through in breach of bylaws dating to 1902 when the tunnel opened.

A new mosaic is unveiled Whitechapel with a collage of landmarks like the Tower of London, one of three artworks for a "society links" project.

What a relief! It won't cost a dime to "spend a penny" at Liverpool Street station any more. Public toilets are now free, passengers are relieved to hear. The news is welcomed by the independent transport watchdog when the penny finally drops.

May

Legend has it that the Tower of London will crumble if the ravens ever leave and great harm would befall the kingdom.

Fear not, two lovebird ravens feather their nest to ensure another generation rules the roost and produce four chicks, the first to be hatched at The Tower in 30 years.

TV Historian Dan Cruikshank campaigns to stop an historic 18th century Huguenot silkworker's house in Club Row being bulldozed to make way for a luxury block of flats.

Former Chelsea footballer Mickey Ambrose returns to his East End roots to help save Raine's Foundation school from closing.

A smooth-talking conman is jailed for cheating women out of £600,000. The 32-year-old from the Isle of Dogs sweet-talks his way into persuading them to invest in bogus companies while wining and dining them.

Lawyer Dan McCurry takes on a tough brief — to open up the Thames foreshore to the public with a petition to create a continuous waterfront path.

June

Parents and pupils fighting to save the 300-year-old Raine's Foundation School stage a protest outside the main gate at home-time.

They take legal action to stop the council scrapping the Year 7 intake before any public consultations.

People's champion Frank Wang who gave out free hot drinks to rough sleepers is back with his new coffee stall outside Bethnal Green Tube station after 20,000 protesters signed a petition when his electric cable feed was cut off a year ago by contractors.

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Preservationists hoping to stop the historic Whitechapel bell foundry being turned into a themed hotel hold a public meeting in a campaign to return the site to a working foundry.

Traffic is blocked along the busy St Paul's Way when 1,000 people turn up to "reclaim" the street. There's dancing in the street with a live band and children's games.

A gallery at Bethnal Green's Museum of Childhood is turned into a design studio ready for the biggest development in the building's 147-year history.

July

Boppers turn up for the Swing East festival which takes Poplar back six decades to see how granny and grandpa rocked around the clock in the 1950s. It attracts 4,000 swingers to Christ Street Market.

The self-confessed armed robber known as the Black Widow, who spent 18 years in jail for murdering her partner, is out to clear her name after 30 years. Linda Calvey, now a great-grandmother at 71, tells her story for the first time about her life of crime in her book The Black Widow launched at the Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel where Ronnie Kray shot rival gangster George Cornell in 1966.

The government is urged to pick up the tabs on the £1.2m legal bills for the High Court corruption judgement that banned Lutfur Rahman as mayor of Tower Hamlets. Former Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles tells a parliamentary committee about the petitioners led by anti-corruption campaigner Andy Erlam who are left with the costs despite winning the 2015 court case.

August

Thousands of hardy cyclists stream through east London on traffic-free main roads setting off from the Olympic Park in the annual Ride Out festival.

They pedal in the heatwave along the Blackwall Tunnel Approach, East India Dock Road, through the Limehouse Link tunnel to The Highway and past the Tower of London to Buckingham Palace.

Research emerges linking Jack the Ripper to the editor of the East London Advertiser at the time of the 1888 Whitechapel Murders. Evidence is uncovered by eminent anatomist and surgeon Dr Wynne Weston-Davies, great-nephew of final victim Mary Kelly, pointing to journalist Francis Craig who edited the paper between 1886 and 1889. Kelly's real identity is found to be Craig's runaway wife who he tracks down to Spitalfields.

Mums fight to stop Raine's Foundation School closing, picketing outside the school gates when pupils arrive for their GCSE results.

September

Whitechapel Road is brought to a standstill as part of the worldwide day of climate protests.

The protesters march from Mile End, blocking traffic with queues stretched half a mile in both directions. Buses and even a police patrol car are stuck.

Communist protesters bring Tower Hamlets Council to a halt in a demo against Israel from the public gallery chanting a Hamas slogan "from the river to the sea" against the Jewish State. They reject the council having adopted the international UN definition of anti-Semitism.

The community rallies to save historic Whitechapel bell foundry at a packed meeting led by historian Dan Cruikshank to stop developers turning the ancient site into a themed "boutique" hotel.

Three 10-year-olds presented a petition to the town hall and address the council demanding parking restrictions outside Arnhem Wharf Primary school protesting at mums and dads dropping off their children at the gates on the school run.

October

A mural is unveiled at Great Eastern Street showing the faces of people already struggling to survive the global climate crisis.

The mural by graffiti artists working with spray cans is inspired by last month's climate strikes around the world.

Police are called to control crowds when Labour selects its Poplar & Limehouse Parliamentary candidate, Apsana Begum, when the selection meeting at St Paul's Church in Burdett Road is packed with 500 party and Momentum activists.

A hidden chapel built by Victorian philanthropists for Bethnal Green's poor is finally reopened to the public after decades, saved by a £3m makeover after rainwater damage to the unique timber-lined prayer house on the third floor of Oxford House.

The Loo of the Year award goes to the Half Moon Theatre pub in Mile End Road, the watering hole named for one of the best tavern toilets in Britain.

November

Contract workers go on strike at University College London's Olympic Park campus calling for the same pay and conditions as staff.

Cleaners and porters employed as "outsourced" workers join others at UCL campuses across London.

A packed evening meeting above a pub in the Columbia Road flower market hears from a council planning officer about a proposed road barrier to keep traffic out of their neighbourhood.

A similar scheme already installed in Wapping where a "bus gate" bans all but buses using the neighbourhood as a short cut causes chaos on Day 1, with furious residents protesting that it cuts the community in half.

Bus crews hold a remembrance with a difference at Bow Garage to mark the passing of the famous Routemaster that used to run on Route 8, for the 60th anniversary of the double-decker that operated from the Fairfield Road depot.

December

Christmas lights are switched on at Poplar's Christ Street Market to the delight of schoolchildren.

But Old Nick gets a helping hand for the first time by "Mama Christmas" as women now move into the Santa business exactly 100 years after getting the vote!

Tributes are paid to singer Kenny Lynch, the East End kid raised in Shadwell who became a national star, after he dies at the age of 81. He's best known for his 1960s hit Up On The Roof.

Labour's Apsana Begum wins Poplar & Limehouse at general election.

Two women from Poplar rowing club set off to cross 3,000 miles of rough Atlantic Ocean the same day Britain goes to the polls. Sara Brewer from Wapping will be the oldest woman to row an ocean when she celebrates her 64th birthday on January 12 with her club companion Anne Prestidge.

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