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Restored mural and new heritage panel tell the story of the Poplar Rates Rebels 100 years on

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The restored Poplar Rates Rebellion mural

A restored mural and new history heritage information panel have been unveiled in Poplar to mark the centenary of the famous Poplar Rates Rebellion which took place in 1921.

Following a decision by the then Poplar Council to vote against the unfair level of rates being levied by the government on the area, the rebellion resulted in 30 Poplar councillors spending six weeks in prison, including George Lansbury's daughter-in-law Minnie Lansbury, who due to her imprisonment, developed pneumonia and died at the age of 32. 

To mark the centenary of this famous uprising, Tower Hamlets Council has given the mural on Hale Street, which tells its story, a new lease of life. Originally painted in 1990 and repainted in 2007, the peeling and faded image of old has been replaced by vibrant and robust coats of paint along with work to preserve and maintain the brick wall underneath.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “It is important to keep this significant part of our borough’s history alive and remind present and future generations of the huge personal sacrifice made by many in defence of their local community. 

We recognise the mural’s value as an historical asset and our duty of care for its upkeep. I am delighted that it has been restored and continues to tell the stories of the actions of the Poplar Rates Rebels.” 

The council has also installed a heritage interpretation panel in Poplar Recreation Ground telling the story of and marking the centenary of the revolt. 

Members of the George Lansbury Memorial Trust including Chair Pippa Catterall, and Keith Murphy, great-nephew of one of the councillors, joined residents, John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, and ward councillors for a fun day at Poplar Recreation Ground on Saturday to celebrate the unveiling of the local history resources.

Pippa Catterall, Chair of the George Lansbury Memorial Trust (GLMT), said: “The Poplar Rates Rebellion was led by councillors who were prepared to make a sacrifice to defend the poor of the borough against unfair taxes. It was thus a key staging post in the development of the Welfare State. As such, it an act of national as well as local significance, and it is great to be commemorating the important contribution of these ordinary men and women to our national story.” 

Keith Murphy, great-nephew of one of the councillors and creator of the Poplar100 website and the Poplar Rates Rebellion Centenary Association formed to mark the centenary, said: “Do join the centenary association. Learn from the rebellion and discover what local politicians can do when they stand together against injustice, inequality and institutional indifference to what is wrong, and what is right.”

Posted on Wednesday 8th September 2021