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The Metropolitan Borough of Bethnal Green was a Metropolitan borough in the County of London between 1900 and 1965, when it was merged into the London Borough of Tower Hamletsmarker. It was created by the London Government Act 1899. It bordered Hackneymarker, Poplarmarker, Stepneymarker, and Shoreditchmarker.

Borough seal

The borough seal depicted a scene based on The Beggar's Daughter of Bednall Green, a poem in Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, published in 1765, but probably dating from the era of Elizabeth I. According to the legend related in the poem, a blind beggar living in Bethnal Green was in fact Henry de Montfort, eldest son of Simon de Montfort, having escaped from the field of the Battle of Eveshammarker in 1265. His identity was revealed at the wedding feast of his daughter Bessie.


In the first election to the borough council, held on 1 November 1900 the Progressives gained a majority, with 22 of the 30 councillors. The Moderates (supported by the Conservative party) formed the 8 member opposition group. The Progressives increased their majority to 24 at the 1903 elections, and in 1906 they won all the seats on the council. The Progressives held the council against the Municipal Reform Party until 1919 when the Labour party gained a majority. Progressive and Liberals regained control at the 1925 election, holding power until 1934.

In 1934, Labour again took control, and from that date held all the seats on the council until the borough's abolition.

For parliamentary elections, Bethnal Green was divided into two constituencies in 1885. Each consisted of two wards of the borough and earlier vestry:

In 1950, the borough's representation was decreased to a single constituency of Bethnal Green, which also included three wards from the neighbouring Metropolitan Borough of Hackneymarker.

Population and area

The area of the borough was . The populations recorded in National Censuses were:

Bethnal Green Civil Parish 1801-1899
Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
Population 22,310 33,619 45,676 62,018 74,088 90,193 105,101 120,104 126,961 129,132
Metropolitan Borough 1900-1961
Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961
Population 129,680 128,183 117,238 108,194 58,353 47,078

Second World War

During the World War II, the Borough suffered from heavy aerial bombing.It is estimated that 80 tons of bombs fell on this area alone, affecting 21,700 houses, destroying 2,233 and making a further 893 uninhabitable. During the course of the aerial bombardment, 555 people were killed, and 400 were seriously injured.

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