The Temple of Art aimed to bring high culture to the East End. But it was an adventure that would end in tears, as cultural historian David Mazower reveals in a book of essays in memory of Bill Fishman, JEECS’s late honorary president.
We've had a request for help from local historian Siri Christiansen, whose letter to JEECS chairman Clive Bettington is below.
Can you help? From JEECS chairman Clive Bettington.
A British company with American finance is making a film about the international history of beigels. The company has been filming all over the world – Israel, Canada, the US etc – and has come to me for more information. It also wants me to organise a film premiere in the East End.
IVAN KOOP KUPER takes a personal journey through his mother’s East End from his home in Houston, Texas.
The average American’s only exposure to London’s East End, if any, is typically through the BBC television series EastEnders, syndicated to the US to be shown by PBS. This long-running British soap opera depicts the offbeat characters who live in the fictional neighbourhood of Albert Square in the fictional borough of Walford.
A gleaming green and gold clock on the side of Electric House in Bow Road forms a fine tribute to Minnie Lansbury, one of the most remarkable women to emerge from the East End, whose life and achievements are the subject of a recent book from Five Leaves Publications.
It was a life cut tragically short at the age of only 32. She had been a leading suffragette, a fighter for decent pensions for those widowed or orphaned in the first world war, an alderman on Poplar council, and a leader of the councillors’ rates strike in protest over the levy on one of London’s poorest boroughs that took money away from people who really needed it – a strike that became a cause célèbre, brought about her imprisonment, but resulted in reform of local government finance.
She worked as a schoolteacher and in 1914 married Edgar Lansbury, whose father, George, was to be Mayor of Poplar, editor of the Daily Herald, a Labour MP, and in due course Labour Party leader.
The clock was restored to its former glory in 2008 thanks to the efforts of the Heritage of London Trust in conjunction with JEECS. We featured her story in issue 9 of our magazine, The Cable, in 2009.
Now author Janine Booth examines her life and achievements in detail in Minnie Lansbury: Suffragette, Socialist, Rebel Councillor, a book that is also the story of Eastern European immigrant Jews in Cockney London, of the fight against poverty and for enfranchisement, of opposing war while defending its victims, of embracing revolutionary possibilities and of defying bad laws. She argues that Minnie Lansbury’s experiences and struggles are directly relevant to today’s labour movement, and to today’s campaigns against antisemitism and for women’s equality.
Janine Booth is a writer and activist who lives in Hackney, east London. She is a well-known figure in her trade union (RMT), in the wider labour movement, and in disability rights and feminist circles. She writes and performs poetry, which has been widely published. She has researched, written and spoken on the subject of Minnie Lansbury for several years, including writing a book about the Poplar rates rebellion.
Website: Five Leaves Publications
People have been asking us about the top picture on our Facebook page (JEECS Facebook). It is the East London Synagogue in Rectory Square, Stepney Green, long closed and now turned into flats, some of which retain features of the synagogue..
The picture (see above) dates from August 1948
The synagogue’s fascinating history has been told by Marc Michaels in East London Synagogue: Outpost of Another World. Marc is the grandson of Jack Michaels, the synagogue’s life president.
He recounts the synagogue’s establishment in 1877 as a “deficit synagogue”, against the stated policies of the United Synagogue whose policy had been to support only those synagogues that would be self-financing, and explores the background to its establishment and subsequent history, illustrated with many rare photographs.
You can read an excerpt from the book, and enjoy some of its superb illustrations, by clicking here.