Alfred Hitchcock on Tower Hamlets plaque shortlist

Alfred Hitchcock plaque in Kensington & Chelsea. Pic: Simon Harriyott

Alfred Hitchcock plaque in Kensington & Chelsea. Pic: Simon Harriyott

Alfred Hitchcock has been named alongside clergymen and pubs on a shortlist of Tower Hamlets people and places for commemorative plaques across the borough.

This week the council announced the 17 names drawn from public nominations that have made the final list for the People’s Plaque Scheme, an initiative aimed to honour significant contributors to Tower Hamlets’ history.

Now, the public can vote for the nominee they feel deserves one of the seven plaques that will be mounted. Voting opens on Monday November 18 and closes on Sunday December 8.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, said: “Tower Hamlets has a wonderfully rich history and the level of diversity and change mean there is an even greater need here, than possibly anywhere else in the country, to recognise our common history.”

Cabinet member for culture, Councillor Rania Khan, said: “Tower Hamlets is an amazing place to live… The shortlist shows the huge diversity of historic places, amazing people and significant events which have all shaped our borough”

The colour of the plaques will be different from the existing five blue English Heritage plaques honouring the WW2 Bethnal Green Underground disaster, distinguished local physician Dr. Hannah Billig and others.


Alfred Hitchcock. Pic: Chris Drumm

Alfred Hitchcock. Pic: Chris Drumm

Alfred Hitchcock

The legendary director Alfred Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone in 1899, and grew up in East End. He spent his school years living in Limehouse where his father ran a greengrocers, and had his first cinema experience at the Ben Hur Cinema on White Horse Road in Stepney. During his career, he directed more than fifty films including “The 39 Steps” in 1935, “Strangers on a Train” in 1951, and “Psycho” in 1960.

Nicholas Culpepper

A herbalist and writer, Culpepper lived in Red Lion Street in Spitalfields. His books on how to cure illnesses by using common herbs were written in English, rather than Latin, which was common practise in the 17th century. Much to the ire of other physicians, Culpepper worked freely with a lot of poor people, offering advice and care where it was most needed.

Tasadduq Ahmed

The Bangladeshi born journalist, Ahmed came to England in 1953 to avoid imprisonment in Pakistan for anti-government articles he had written. He volunteered at the Pakistan Welfare Association in Tower Hamlets and was the founder of local newspaper Eastern News. He was appointed a Member of ‘The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire’ in 1898 for his social work and received ‘the Freedom of London Borough of Tower Hamlets’ in 2000.

Pic: Tower Hamlets Council

Reverend Julius Reiger. Pic: Tower Hamlets Council

Ayub Ali Master

Ayub Ali Master, born in Bengali, ran the Shah Jalal Coffee House at 76 Commercial Street, known as the first stop for seamen coming to London. He was also active in his community, turning his home on Sandy’s Road into an advice centre to support Bengalis, offering lodging and employment support.

Charles Bradlaugh

A 19th century social reformer, Bradlaugh spent his early life in Bethnal Green. An atheist, Bradlaugh challenged the grip that religion had on Victorian society. He was elected the MP for Northampton in 1880 but didn’t take his seat until 1886 because of his refusal to take the Parliamentary oath. He founded the National Secular Society in 1866, and after his death, was commemorated with a statue in Northampton’s Abington Square.

Reverend Julius Reiger

Reiger was the minister of St. German Lutheran Church in Whitechapel from 1931 to 1953. He supported Jewish refugees during World War II and was awarded the Great Cross of Merit from Germany in 1953 for his achievements.

Sowabullah Munshi

Born in Sylhet in Bangladesh, Munshi came to London in the 1920s where he was one of the founding fathers of the Bengali community in London’s East End. He lived at 16 Elder Street in Spitalfields and started a lodging house in Code Street off Brick Lane.

Reverend William Henry Lax

A minister, politician, orator, author and actor, Lax was born in 1868 in Poplar. He received international acclaim for his writings and worked tirelessly for the deprived people of Poplar. His work at the Poplar Methodist Mission became known as “Lax’s church.”


Marge Hewson. Pic: The Gentle Author

Marge Hewson. Pic: The Gentle Author

Clara Grant

Born in Wiltshire, Grant was a primary school teacher and settlement worker in London’s East End.  She was Head Teacher at the Infant’s School on Devon’s Road at the start of the 20th century and founded the Fern Street Settlement, community work centre for the poor. Grant also started the “farthing bundles” tradition in 1913, where children small enough to pass through an arch received a parcel of toys for a farthing.

Marge Hewson

Hewson was a cherished feature of Brick Lane school life, working for 40 years as a nurse at the Christ Church School in Brick Lane. Each morning she would traverse the streets from Greatorex St to the Chicksand Estate, battling weather to bring the small school children into school.


East End dockyards after a heavy raid, 1940. Pic: Charles McCain

East End dockyards after a heavy raid, 1940. Pic: Charles McCain

Bombing of public shelter on Bullivant’s Wharf, Isle of Dogs

In March 1941, the public shelter on Bullivant’s Wharf was hit by a landmine, killing over 40 people and injuring countless others. It was the biggest wartime disaster in the Isle of Dogs.

Premierland, Backchurch Lane, Whitechapel

Premierland, opened in 1911, was the East End’s primary boxing venue until it’s closure in 1930. Some of the greatest fighters in the history of sport, including Kid Lewis, Harry Corbett, and Harry Mason, fought at the venue. The building is today used as a garage.

Charlie Brown’s pub, West India Dock Road

Charlie Brown’s, officially called the Railway Tavern, was a major attraction in the 1930s due to a large collection of antiques and souvenirs displayed at the pub. Charlie Brown, the owner, was known as the “uncrowned King of Limehouse” and an estimated 16,000 locals turned out for his funeral in 1932. The pub was demolished in 1989.


The Colossus codebreaking computer. Pic: The National Archives

The Colossus codebreaking computer. Pic: The National Archives

Walter Tull

Tull was born and raised in an orphanage in Bethnal Green, and became the first person of African-Caribbean and slave heritage to be commissioned as an infantry officer in the British Army. He was also the second person of African-Caribbean background to play in the top division of the Football League, playing for Tottenham Hotspur and Northampton Town.

Tommy Flowers

Flowers, born and raised in the East End, designed Colossus, the world’s first programmable electronic computer during the WW1. It helped solve encrypted German messages, which was a major boost in the war effort, saving hundreds of British lives.

Will Crooks

Born in Poplar in 1852, Will Crooks was one of the leaders of the Great Dock Strike of 1899. He was elected the first Labour Mayor of London in 1901 and helped organise the construction of the Blackwall Tunnel as a member of the London County Council.

The Limehouse Declaration

In 1981 four senior British Labour politicians, known as the “Gang of Four,” issued their intent to leave the Labour Party and form a Council for Social Democracy. This would lead to the formation of the SDP, which later merged with the Liberal Party to form the Liberal Democrats.


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