A grand green clock hangs off the side of an otherwise unremarkable block of flats in memory of a quite remarkable woman.
Minnie Lansbury was a leading suffragette and also an alderman in the first Labour-led council in the Metropolitan Borough of Poplar.
Minnie started her adult career as a teacher, and in 1915 joined the local suffragettes, being elected as elected alderman on Poplar’s first Labour council in 1919. As her date of birth is uncertain, it’s possible that she was elected while aged 29, at a time when suffrage for women only applied to those aged over 30.
In 1921, she was one of six women and twenty-four men on Poplar Council who, along with their male colleagues, were jailed in Holloway jail for six weeks for refusing to levy full rates in the poverty-stricken area.
Fifteen thousand people marched to Holloway to support the jailed women councillors with trade union banners much in evidence. However, due to her imprisonment, she developed pneumonia and died in 1922, aged just 32.
In her memory, the Minnie Lansbury Memorial Clock was put up in the 1930s on Electric House in Bow Road.
In May 2006 Tower Hamlets Council, who own the clock approached the Heritage of London Trust for a grant to restore the now faulty clock, and a public appeal supported by the by the Jewish East End Celebration Society was organised to raise funds.
The restored clock was unveiled on 16th October 2008 at a cost of £12,000.
There are now two plaques to the clock on the corner of the building, one original and the more recent to celebrate its restoration.
(Yes, the actress Angela Lansbury is the daughter of Minnie’s husband Edgar Lansbury)
Article last updated on April 6th, 2021 at 11:16 am