Walk in historic footsteps of socialist George Lansbury led by his grandson

George Lansbury and his family

George Lansbury and his family - Credit: TH Archives

A memorial walk commemorating George Lansbury, the man who led the famous Poplar borough rates revolt nearly 100 years ago, was held yesterday on his former stomping ground in London’s East End.

George Lansbury and his family

George Lansbury and his family - Credit: TH Archives

Members of Bow Church where he was warden followed in his footsteps around St Mary’s parish to mark key sites in the East End’s social history.

It was led by his grandson Chris Sumner and Tower Hamlets archivist Malcolm Barr-Hamilton.

Lansbury was a young MP who quit Parliament in 1912 to fight for women’s suffrage and went on to be the radical socialist founder-editor of the Daily Herald campaigning for peace when the First World War broke out two years later and also backed the 1917 Russian revolution.

But he is more famously remembered as Mayor of Poplar in 1921, when he led a revolt against the London County Council rates precept, arguing that the East End’s unemployed poor couldn’t pay the same as the rich in Westminster or Kensington.

MP George Lansbury (centre) opens new Poplar Civic Centre in Bow-road 1938... his grand-daughter on

MP George Lansbury (centre) opens new Poplar Civic Centre in Bow-road 1938... his grand-daughter on his right is Angela Lansbury, 13 at the time, the actress and screen star in later life - Credit: TH Archive


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He and 19 other Poplar councillors, including his daughter Minnie Lansbury, went to prison for refusing to levy the rate, which eventually got the law changed.

George Lansbury returned to Parliament in 1922 and became Labour Party leader at Westminster during the 1930s’ Depression. He died in 1940, with Europe at war again.

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