The heart of London’s East End, Bethnal Green and Bow is a wonderfully diverse community, with a rich and deep history and proud political heritage.
The East End has inspired many men and women to make history and fight for social justice. Some of the greatest social reforms of the past 100 years, the trade union movement, the Suffragettes and the welfare state to name a few have come from ideas inspired by the East End and its people.
Bethnal Green and Bow is known for its vibrancy, its cultural activity, its places and its people. Whitechapel gallery, Columbia Road flower market, and Spitalfields market are just some of the places that attract thousands of locals and visitors from around the world.
Iconic places like Brick Lane tell an extraordinary history of Britain. Brick Lane was the first place many waves of migrants called home, from the Huguenots, Jews, Irish, Pakistanis, Bengalis, and Somalis to name just a few. The richness of contributions made by so many generations is manifested poignantly in the Brick Lane Jamme Masjid. Originally built by the Huguenots for Christian worshippers, it later became a synagogue and is now a mosque.
The spirit of people from the East End is steeped in courage and determination as well as sacrifice and loss. The worst civilian loss of life in Britain during the Second World War was the Bethnal Green tube disaster. On the 3rd March 1943, 173 people lost their lives in the Bethnal Green and Bow tube station whilst seeking shelter from air raids during the blitz bombings.
Rushanara gave her maiden speech to Parliament on Tuesday 8th June 2010 in a debate on Economic Affairs and Work and Pensions where she thanked the people of Bethnal Green and Bow paying tribute to her predecessors. Rushanara’s speech draws on much of this history and can be read in full on Hansard.