Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
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A tudor ballad about the 'Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green' tells of an ostensibly poor man who gave a surprisingly generous dowry for his daughter's wedding. The tale furnishes the parish of Bethnal Green's coat of arms. According to one version of the legend, the beggar was the son of Simon de Montfort, who then lived nearby.
In the nineteenth century, Bethnal Green was characterised by its market gardens and by the silk-weaving trade. Having been an area of large houses and gardens as late as the eighteenth century, by about 1860, Bethnal Green was characterised by tumbledown old buildings, with many families living in each house.
In 1943, the unopened Bethnal Green tube station was the site of a wartime disaster. Families had crowded into the underground station to escape German bombing, but the sounds of explosions started a panic. 173 people died in the resulting crush. The news was not released at the time for fear of damaging wartime morale, but there is now a plaque at the entrance to the tube station.
During the 1960s, famous gangsters the Kray twins lived in Bethnal Green, but by the beginning of the twenty-first century, Bethnal Green, in common with much of the old East End, began to undergo a process of gentrification.
The local gymnasium and leisure centre, York Hall, is notable for its boxing. Boxing has a long association with Bethnal Green. Daniel Mendoza, who was champion of England from 1792 to 1795, though born in Aldgate, lived in Bethnal Green for 30 years. Since then numerous boxing greats have been associated with the area.
The former Bethnal Green Infirmary, later the London County Council Bethnal Green Hospital, stood opposite Cambridge Heath railway station. The hospital closed as a public hospital in the 1960s and was a geriatric hospital under the NHS until the 1980s. Much of the site was developed for housing in the 1990s but the hospital entrance and administration block remains as a listed building.
Places of interest:
- the Museum of Childhood, part of the Victoria and Albert Museum
Nearest tube stations:
Nearest railway stations:
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