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Bethnal Green
PostCode District E1, E2
Borough London Borough of Tower Hamlets
OS Grid Reference


Bethnal Green is an area in East London, and is in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Bethnal Green was once the core of the Metropolitan Borough of Bethnal Green, and is descended from the historic parish and hamlet.

Bethnal Green Road, Cambridge Heath Road, Columbia Road and Globe Road comprised of most of the retail and commercial in Bethnal Green.


The first recorded names for Bethnal Green were Blithehale and Blythenhale. These could be translated as happy corner, although nobody is exactly sure where the name came from. Over time, the area became known as Blethenal Green and then Bethan Hall Green. The current name for the area probably came from the local pronunciation of Bethan Hall Green, ultimately leading to the connecting of Bethan and Hall to Bethnal.[1]

The topographer Daniel Lysons suggested in the late 18th century that Bethnal was a corruption of the name Bathon-Hall which would have been the residence of a notable Bathon family who owned large areas of Stepney, the parish of which Bethnal Green was once a part. "Green" related to an area which lay "about half a mile beyond the suburbs".[2]


Orgins and early development[]

In 1292, it was recorded that citizens reaffirmed their right to shoot with bows in the common field of Bethnal Green.[3] A settlement was recorded as Blithehale in the 13th century, and by the 16th century merchants and noblemen were building large houses in the fields and Bethnal Green remained a pleasant country retreat on the outskirts of London until about 1700 and[4] became one of the first manufacturing districts in Middlesex, and became known for it silk-weaving.[5]

Blinded and not being able to work, Simon De Montfort who had fought at the Battle of Evesham in 1265, was regularly begging in Bethnal Green and became known as the Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green.[6]

Eighteenth century[]

During the 1700s, the area became associated with boxing. Daniel Mendoza spent most of his adult life living in Bethnal Green.[7] In 1727, Bethnal House was built and was variously known as Wright’s House, The Blind Beggar’s House and Kirby’s Castle. Famous inmates include Alexander Cruden, the author of the 18th Century best-seller Concordance to the Bible and poet Christopher Smart.[8]

Bethnal Green became one of London’s poorest quarters, described by Karl Marx as a “notorious district” because of its child labour.[9]

Ninthteenth century[]

During the 1800s, Bethnal Green had became home to an influx of silk weavers who spilled over from Spitalfields, this led to a need for more housing, in response, Globe Town was developed east of the green. Bethnal Green also became well-known for its market gardens, however by the end of the 19th century, the area was turning into a slum and was overcrowded, with inadequate housing and suffered from poverty and crime related problems.[10] From the 1860s philanthropists like Angela Burdett-Coutts and George Peabody built tenement housing for the poor. Burdett-Coutts also sponsored the construction of a spectacular market hall in Columbia Road, which was never a success and has not survived.[11]

Nicholas Hawksmoor, then a pupil of Christopher Wren, drew up plans for a large, basilica-type church. There was opposition to this, however, from both the local population, who feared the increase in costs to themselves in maintaining a church building. Negotiations were drawn out and it was not until 13 October 1725 that a portion of Hare Fields was purchased for the church. In 1743 the foundation stone was laid. The following year work on the half-built church was halted as, once again, funds were insufficient. The church was finally completed and dedicated on 15 July 1746.[12]

The southern part of Mansford Street was laid out in 1877 as a through road in a cleared area between Old Bethnal Green Road and Bethnal Green Road with building land on either side.[13] Oxford House was established in 1884 as the first “settlement house” where students and graduates from Keble College, Oxford undertook residential volunteering to tackle the challenges of urban poverty first-hand.[14] Mowlem Primary School, which opened in 1887 and was called Mowlem Street School. As the population grew, the school was enlarged in 1898 and changed once again in 1902 for 410 boys and 410 girls.[15]

Twentieth century[]

In 1909 the Sutton Dwellings Trust, which was founded by William Sutton, acquired an acre of land on the west side of James Street (once North and later Sceptre Road) and opened the Bethnal Green Estate in 1909.[16] The Bethnal Green Town Hall was completed in 1910[17] and the internationally renowned York Hall opened in 1929 with a capacity of 1,200.[18]

A total of 173 people, mainly women and children, died in the Bethnal Green tube station tragedy, March 3rd, 1943 and was Britain’s worst mass civilian death incident of the Second World War.[19]

By 1948, the Jewish population was decreasing due to their movement into other areas of London. In 1954, just prior to the influx of the next wave of immigrants, there was little political or criminal violence in Bethnal Green. Between 1931 and 1955 nearly 40,000 residents of Bethnal Green were relocated into London County Council homes in Essex and later into Buckinghamshire. This caused a breakup of the social order and a contraction of privately rented housing. These conditions contributed to outrageous rents and the development of the slum lord along with an increase in criminal behavior.[20] The 1950s saw the rise Kray twins, known as Ronald "Ronnie" Kray and Reginald "Reggie" Kray who were identical twin brothers and were active during the 1950s and 1960s with a gang known as The Firm.[21]

In the 1970s, Tower Hamlets Council decided to fence the area that would become Bethnal Green Nature Reserve, and lock it up to protect it from fly tipping. In the late 1990s the local Teesdale and Hollybush Tenants and Residents Association became the site custodians and, with the support of Tower Hamlets Council, took responsibility for St Jude's as it was still called locally.[22] A new single-storey building catering for a total of 280 children was opened in 1971 at Mowlem Primary School.[23]

Modern era[]

Bethnal Green was targeted during the 21 July 2005 London bombings by would-be bomber Muktar Said Ibrahim who attempted to explode a device while on a London Buses route 26 on Hackney Road from Waterloo which caused a small explosion but not as intended and there was no significant damage and no loss of life.[24]

Since 2015, the Bethnal Green Academy, the school has changed its name twice, first to Green Spring Academy Shoreditch in an attempt to shake off negative associations, and then to Mulberry Academy Shoreditch due to a management change. Shamima Begum, Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase were all students at the school and were aged between 15 and 16 when they left for Syria to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS).[25]

Bethnal Green Market was limited to stalls selling “non-prepared food and household items only to help prevent spread of Covid-19 in 2020 following discussions with organisers and operators.[26]

George Gladwell, passed away at 91 from coronavirus. He had been stalwart of Columbia Road Flower Market, Bethnal Green since 1949. George was given end-of-life care by Macmillan nurses until he died on April 19.[27]

NHS nurse Donald Suelto, 51, who was believed to have caught coronavirus from an infected patient at Hammersmith Hospital, where he was working without personal protective equipment (PPE), passed away on April 21st. Police discovered Mr Suelto, after they forced entry into his home.[28]


Bethnal Green is east of Shoreditch, south of Haggerston and Cambridge Heath, west of Old Ford, north of Whitechapel and Stepney and northeast of Mile End.

Bethnal Green has a number of conservation areas set up by Tower Hamlets Council due to its historic history and landscape, including the Bethnal Green Gardens Conservation Area which was designated in July 1969 and then extended in October 2008 to the south west of the tube station due to significant buildings located in and around the junction of Bethnal Green Road, Roman Road and Cambridge Heath Road, which ensures these landmarks will be preserved.[1] Hackney Road has a very special architectural and historic character of buildings and areas adjoining the road which are composed of a dense concentration of modest sized properties.[29]

Old Bethnal Green Road and around the roads of the Winkley Estate, which has a very cohesive character and little scope exists for change. The buildings contained within the area being considered form an important group worthy of protection and enhancement.[30]


Bethnal Green falls within the parliamentary constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.


Today a wide community exists in Bethnal Green, one example of this is The Roman Road E2 Hamper to the east of the green, which is used as a tool by local shops in Bethnal Green to reach out to customers in the community, aiding in promoting their businesses, products and services.[31]

Further extensive community provision and training is provided by Morpeth School via its connection to the community.[32] Morpeth Sixth Form is also actively involved in some community enrichment project, with support from the Roman Road Trust and Drumworks,[33] who are a band based in Morpeth School associated with the Barbican Centre.[34]

Streets in Bethnal Green[]

Below are the various artices on streets in Bethnal Green:


The Wikipedia article is at [35]

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