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Sun shines for George Lansbury’s 150th birthday

PUBLISHED: 11:14 24 February 2009 | UPDATED: 14:06 05 October 2010

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AN EARLY spring sun shone on 200 people marking the 150th birthday of people’s hero’ George Lansbury on their history walk through London’s radical East End’ in the steps of the man who led famous 1921 rates strike. It was followed by a memorial service to Lansbury with his portrait (pictured) decorating the altar of the church where he worshipped for four decades

AN EARLY spring sun shone on 200 people marking the 150th birthday of people’s hero’ George Lansbury on their history walk through London’s radical East End’ in the steps of the man who led famous 1921 rates strike.

It was followed by a memorial service to Lansbury with his portrait (pictured) decorating the altar of the church where he worshipped for four decades.

The Rector of Bow, Michael Peet, led Saturday’s walk with Chris Sumner, whose grandfather Charlie Sumner was Mayor of Poplar during the famous dispute when councillors went to jail rather than charge the East End’s poor with the crippling LCC tax precept demanded by the Government-of-the-day.

The walkers made their way along Bow Road to Bow Church, passing the site of the Lansbury family home at 39 Bow Road, destroyed by a German V1 doodlebug bomb in 1944, the recently-restored Minnie Lansbury Clock dedicated to Lansbury’s daughter-in-law, one of the councillors jailed in the rates strike, and the old Poplar Town Hall itself.

Sunday saw 150 people packing a memorial service at Bow Church where George worshipped for 40 years and where his funeral at the age of 82 was held in 1940.

The Rector opened the service repeating the words of Britain’s wartime Labour minister and later prime minister Clement Attlee, who said at Lansbury’s memorial in 1940: “We are met here to honour the greatest man we have had in East London.” The Bishop of Stepney, The Rt Rev Stephen Oliver, then gave the blessing.

The weekend was also a reunion for 60 of Lansbury’s descendents including four grandchildren, many arriving from abroad.

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