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Hollywood star writes message as suffragette Minnie honoured

PUBLISHED: 18:29 14 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:41 05 October 2010

A 13-year-old Angela Lansbury at opening of Poplar Town Hall, 4th left, with grandfather George, sixth left

A 13-year-old Angela Lansbury at opening of Poplar Town Hall, 4th left, with grandfather George, sixth left

By Julia Gregory HOLLYWOOD star Angela Lansbury has paid tribute to Poplar s most famous suffragette, a relative she described as a heroine and inspiration . Suffragette and Poplar rate striker Minnie Lansbury is being honoured at a special ceremony on

By Julia Gregory

HOLLYWOOD star Angela Lansbury has paid tribute to Poplar's most famous suffragette, a relative she described as "a heroine and inspiration".

Suffragette and Poplar rate striker Minnie Lansbury is being honoured at a special ceremony on Thursday to mark the restoration of a clock dedicated to her memory.

That will also be Angela's 83rd birthday.

Celebrated in East End and working class history, Minnie was the first wife of Angela Lansbury's father, Edgar, who was the son of former Poplar MP George Lansbury.

Born Minnie Glassman she married into the celebrated Lansbury political family and actively campaigned for votes for women.

She became an alderman on Poplar's council in 1919 and was one of the 30 Poplar rate strikers jailed in 1921 for refusing to impose increased rates on East End residents.

Minnie died of pneumonia aged 32 in 1922, just six weeks after she was released from her six-week stretch in Holloway prison and her family believe the harsh prison conditions hastened her death.

Minnie's husband Edgar was the son of celebrated East End MP and Labour party leader George Lansbury.

After her death, Edgar married actress Moyna MacGill and their daughter is Angela Lansbury, best known to modern audiences as Jessica Fletcher the sleuthing star of Murder She Wrote.

Miss Lansbury is 83 on Thursday and is unable to make the ceremony because she is recovering from a knee operation.

But although she had to miss the party she sent a message of support to be read at the unveiling of a re-dedication plaque.

The actress said in a message from her home in California: "My Father, Edgar Lansbury once wrote 'The world's best hopes depend upon the pure in heart.'

"In her brief lifetime Minnie Lansbury embodied that spirit of which he spoke.

"Her courage and total belief in the cause of righteous dissent in the turbulent years leading up to women's suffrage and the rise of "populism" in the boroughs of East London made her an inspiration and a heroine to all those who fought the good fight.

"I am proud indeed to join with the Glassman and Lansbury families and the people of Bow in the celebration of the restoration of the Minnie Lansbury clock.

"I only wish I could have been there with you all on this proud event! But thank you for having it on my 83rd Birthday, October 16th."

Former Bethnal Green and Bow MP Oona King will do the honours instead at 11am.

The ceremony is being followed by a debate on 'women as leaders: what has changed since Minnie's day' at Central Foundation School for Girls.

The clock was originally erected on the wall of the Electric Building, Bow Road in Minnie's memory in the 1930s but had fallen into disrepair.

A campaign launched by the Jewish East End Celebration Society helped raise the £12,000 needed to restore the clock to its former glory.

The Heritage of London Trust did the main fund-raising for the restoration and other cash came from Tower Hamlets council.

Angela Lansbury donated £2,000 towards the repair.

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