Poplar, London

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Coordinates: 51°30′24″N 0°01′04″W / 51.5066°N 0.0178°W / 51.5066; -0.0178

Poplar is a built up, mainly residential area of the East End of London in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It is about 5.5 miles (8.9 km) east of Charing Cross. Historically a hamlet in the parish of Stepney, in 1817 Poplar became a civil parish. In 1855 the Poplar District of the Metropolis was formed, which also included Bromley and Bow. The district became the Metropolitan Borough of Poplar in 1900 and was abolished in 1965. The district centre is Chrisp Street Market. Poplar contains notable examples of public housing including the Lansbury Estate and Balfron Tower.



St Matthias Old Church is located on Poplar High Street, opposite Tower Hamlets College. It is next to Poplar Town Hall – which has mosaic detail – and Poplar Bowls Club, which is part of Poplar Recreation Ground. A recently re-opened sports centre called The Workhouse stands on the site of Poplar Workhouse, where local politician Will Crooks spent some of his earliest years (a nearby council housing estate is named after him).

On 13 June 1917, German Gotha G bombers carried out the deadliest German raid on London during World War I. One of the bombs fell on a nursery school in Poplar, causing the death of forty-six children – a tragedy which shocked the British public at the time.[1]

The Metropolitan Borough of Poplar was the location, in 1921, of the Poplar Rates Rebellion, led by the Mayor, George Lansbury, who was later elected as leader of the Labour Party. As part of the 1951 Festival of Britain, a new council housing estate was built to the north of the East India Dock Road and named the Lansbury Estate after him. This estate includes Chrisp Street Market, which was greatly commended by Lewis Mumford. The same era also saw the construction of the Robin Hood Gardens housing complex (overlooking the northern portal of the Blackwall Tunnel) – designed by architects Peter and Alison Smithson – and the similarly brutalist Balfron Tower, Carradale House and Glenkerry House (to the north) – designed by Ernő Goldfinger. Other notable buildings in Poplar include Poplar Baths, finally closed in 1988, which local campaigners hope to get redeveloped.

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