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The Metropolitan Borough of Poplar was between 1900 and 1965 a Metropolitan borough in the County of London. The borough took over the area of the Poplar Board of Works (formed in 1855), and comprised the parishes of Bowmarker, Bromleymarker and Poplarmarker. In 1965 it became part of the newly formed London Borough of Tower Hamletsmarker.


The borough bordered the metropolitan boroughs of Hackneymarker, Stepneymarker, and Bethnal Greenmarker to the west and north, and the county of Essex to the east. To the south, the River Thames formed borders with the metropolitan boroughs of Bermondseymarker, Deptfordmarker and Greenwichmarker.

It included the districts of (from north to south):


In the early 1920s the Borough Council, under George Lansbury and the Poor Law Union were engaged in a dispute with the London County Council and central government over poor law rates - it wished to pay out of work people more than usually permitted; and to get wealthier West Endmarker boroughs to contribute to its expenses. Several councillors were imprisoned briefly in 1921 in relation to this. See Poplar Rates Rebellion.

In 1951 Poplar was chosen as the site of the Festival of Britain's 'Exhibition of Live Architecture'. The East End of London had been heavily bombed during the war and its reconstruction was showcased at the new Lansbury Estate. New building materials and planning concepts were demonstrated. The first example of 'live architecture' on the exhibition trail was the Trinity Congregational Church and Hall, just across from the main reception area with their Town Planning and Building Research Pavilions on East India Dock Road. The trail continued with the Lansbury Estatemarker and Chrisp Street Marketmarker.

Population and area

Poplar covered an area of . The population as given in the census from 1801 to 1961 was:

Civil Parishes and Poplar Board of Works 1801-1899
Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
Population 8,278 13,548 18,932 25,066 31,122 47,162 79,196 116,376 156,510 166,748
Metropolitan Borough 1900-1961
Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961
Population 168,822 162,442 162,578 155,089 73,579 66,604

Borough seal

The borough had no coat of arms, using instead a seal originally designed for the Poplar Board of Works, its predecessor, created by the Metropolis Management Act 1855. The seal depicted the emblems of the three parish vestries merged into the board.

The top shield was the seal of Poplar Vestry, and showed the 'Hibbert Gate' of the old West India Docksmarker, with a sailing ship on top of the shield. A similar representation of the gate and ship formed the head of the vestry's civic mace, which was used by the board of works and borough council until 1965.

The shield on the left was the seal of Bow Vestry , and showed a bridge between two bows. This represented the bow-shaped bridge over the River Lea.

The shield on the right was the seal of Bromley St Leonard Vestry, and depicts the saint dressed as a bishop.

See also


  • Vision of Britain website: Population tables for Poplar Borough [46429]

External links

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