Bethnal Green is the 23rd station that I have visited on the Central Line, but the first one that has the same colour tiles decorating the walls as the colour representing the line on the underground map, which is this case is red.
Construction of the station began in the 1930s as part of the Central Line extension. The tunnels were complete but no rails had been fitted and so the station became an air-raid shelter. Being a subterranean station entrance is via staircases. On March 3rd 1943, 173 people were killed in a rush whilst trying to enter the shelter. A woman and child fell over near the bottom of the steps and others fell on top of them. It is estimated that hundreds of people fell within just 15 secs. Unaware of what was going on in front of them people continued to surge forward to reach the safety of the shelter. 173 mainly women and children died of asphyxiation. It was the worst civilian disaster of the war and for propaganda reasons the tragedy was not publicised at the time or after the war.
It was 50 years before this small memorial plaque was erected above the stairwell.
For many years relatives of the deceased and local people campaigned for funding to have a more prominent and suitable memorial. On March 3rd 2013, 70 years after the disaster, the Stairway to Heaven memorial was officially finally opened.
Jewellery and flowers left at the memorial.
Although this is a densely populated area there are still green spaces to be found. This small park is just a short walk from the station and as today was a warm sunny day many people were enjoying their lunchbreak in the pleasant surroundings.
In a corner of the park is this drinking fountain with an interesting inscription. I wonder how many people have walked passed and never noticed.
The inscription reads: Memorial to Alice Maud Denman and Peter Regelous who lost their lives in attempting to save others at a fire at 423 Hackney Road on 20th April 1902.
When the fire started in Alice's house, her six children were sleeping inside, Alice and Arthur, a passer by tried to rescue them but sadly both adults and four of the children died. This memorial fountain was erected by public donation.
Next to the park is the Museum of Childhood. Part of the Victoria and Albert Museum, it houses a huge collection of childhood related objects.
The purpose built Museum was originally part of the main V and A Museum in South Kensington but when that was extended in 1872, the building was dismantled and reassembled in Bethnal Green.
York Hall is on Old Ford Road close to the Museum of Childhood. It is a health and leisure centre and one of Britain's best known boxing venues. It opened in 1929 with a swimming pool, gym and boxing arenas and facilities. In the basement it also had Turkish Baths with traditional Russian and Turkish steam rooms, sauna and relaxation room. In 2007 the council closed the facility and rebranded it as a Spa with various treatments much to the annoyance of local users.
Behind the Museum of Childhood is Netteswell House, the oldest house in Bethnal Green. A stone tablet above the entrance has the inscription 'Parts of the basement date back to 1553 but the rest of the house was partly rebuilt in 1705 and then again in 1862.'It was in a house close to this one that Samuel Pepys brought his belongings including his diaries to escape destruction during the fire of London.
Around the corner from Netteswell house are these two houses which were built in 1690. They are now used as offices for a charity.
Attached to the houses is this old Victorian chapel
On the side of the chapel is this plaque dedicated to Sir Wyndham Deedes. He was sent to Palestine in !920 as an administrator. Returning to the East End in 1923, he devoted his life to social work.
A short walk from the tube station is Globe town, established in 1800 to provide accommodation for the expanding population of silk weavers in the area. Between 1801 and 1831 the population trebled
with weavers operating the looms in their own homes. Shortly afterwards regulations on importing French silk were relaxed and as the price of silk decreased so did the number of weavers. Nowadays this area is home to a large Bangladeshi community. It is easy to spot with its three globe structures on the edge of the area.
This disused fire station on Roman Road is now home to the London Buddhist Centre
Around the corner on Globe Road at the back of the Buddhist centre is a large mural of lotus flowers.
The outside walls of Globe primary school was adorned with a number of colourful mosaics. The work was in collaboration with Artyface workshops using the theme animals around the globe to reflect the wide range of nationalities of the school.children. They brightened up what would otherwise be a dull brick wall.
Walking back onto Roman Road I passed this statue and fountain outside a group of bungalows. It is a bronze sculpture by Elizabeth Frink of the Blind Beggar. Images of The Blind Beggar can be found in a number of places around Bethnal Green. It appears on the seal of Bethnal Green
I crossed over Roman Road and through Meath Gardens. This arch is the entrance to Meath Gardens which opened in 1893. Prior to that this was a cemetery which closed in 1874. The cemetery was only open for 30 years when it ran out of space due to the high number of deaths during the 19th cent.
The lamps first appeared outside London police stations in 1861 before spreading throughout the UK and the British Empire.