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Bethnal Green

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Bethnal Green
OS Grid Reference:Template:Gbmappingsmall
Administration
Borough:Tower Hamlets
County:Greater London
Region:Greater London
Nation:England
Other
Ceremonial County:Greater London
Traditional County:Middlesex
Post Office and Telephone
Post town:LONDON
Postcode:E2
Dialling Code:020
Politics
Parliament:Bethnal Green & Bow
London Assembly:City & East London

Bethnal Green is a place in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, in the heart of London's East End. Bethnal Green is 3.3 miles (5.3 km) north east of Charing Cross.

A tudor ballad about the 'Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green' tells of an ostensibly poor man who gave a surprisingly generous dowry for his daughter's wedding. The tale furnishes the parish of Bethnal Green's coat of arms. According to one version of the legend, the beggar was the son of Simon de Montfort, who then lived nearby.

In the nineteenth century, Bethnal Green was characterised by its market gardens and by the silk-weaving trade. Having been an area of large houses and gardens as late as the eighteenth century, by about 1860, Bethnal Green was characterised by tumbledown old buildings, with many families living in each house.

By the end of the nineteenth century, Bethnal Green was one of the poorest slums in London. Jack the Ripper operated at the western end of Bethnal Green and in neighbouring Whitechapel.

In 1943, the unopened Bethnal Green tube station was the site of a wartime disaster. Families had crowded into the underground station to escape German bombing, but the sounds of explosions started a panic. 173 people died in the resulting crush. The news was not released at the time for fear of damaging wartime morale, but there is now a plaque at the entrance to the tube station.

During the 1960s, famous gangsters the Kray twins lived in Bethnal Green, but by the beginning of the twenty-first century, Bethnal Green, in common with much of the old East End, began to undergo a process of gentrification.

The local gymnasium and leisure centre, York Hall, is notable for its boxing. Boxing has a long association with Bethnal Green. Daniel Mendoza, who was champion of England from 1792 to 1795, though born in Aldgate, lived in Bethnal Green for 30 years. Since then numerous boxing greats have been associated with the area.

The former Bethnal Green Infirmary, later the London County Council Bethnal Green Hospital, stood opposite Cambridge Heath railway station. The hospital closed as a public hospital in the 1960s and was a geriatric hospital under the NHS until the 1980s. Much of the site was developed for housing in the 1990s but the hospital entrance and administration block remains as a listed building.

Marcus Garvey was at one time buried here, before his body was returned to Jamaica.

Bethnal Green Town Hall
Enlarge
Bethnal Green Town Hall

Places of interest:

Nearest places:

Nearest tube stations:

Nearest railway stations:

See also Bethnal Green and Bow (UK Parliament constituency).

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