Tower Hamlets

The London borough of Tower Hamlets is one of Britain’s most culturally diverse areas, and also one of its most interesting. One of London’s most famous modern-day landmarks, Canary Wharf, is in the borough, and along with it so are many of the city’s tallest buildings. Its political history is a dsource of great fascination as not only has it historically been a left-leaning area, but it was one of the first places in the United Kingdom to elect to its borough council a member of the extreme right-wing British National Party, an offshoot of the neo-Nazi group the National Front. While there is some history of racial tension in the area, Tower Hamlets is growing in terms of business opportunities, and it is one of the five London boroughs which will be host to some part of the 2012 London Olympic games.

Tower Hamlets is geographically located in the East of Greater London and forms part of what is colloquially referred to as the “East End”. It contains large parts of London’s Docklands area and is therefore part of the course for one of the world’s most famous marathons, the London Marathon. This will enable it to play a major part in London’s hosting of the Olympic Games and therefore benefit financially from the large amount of money that is expected to flow into the area as a consequence of the Games. This is in direct opposition to the history of the area which has often been considered one of London’s less cash-rich sectors.

Tower Hamlets LondonIt is in no small part this history of financial poverty  that has led to Tower Hamlets being the political hotbed that it is today. The borough contains two electoral constituencies which elect members to the sole elected chamber of UK Parliament, the House of Commons. In one of these constituencies, Bethnal Green and Bow, the left-wing political firebrand George Galloway became the first (and currently only) Member of Parliament for the Respect Coalition, ousting in turn one of the country’s most prominent black female (and by coincidence also Jewish) MPs, Oona King. This tendency towards left-of-center political parties is in part, as said, due to the lower income in the area during its formative years and also due to its ethnic make up – with large Irish, Jewish and Bangladeshi communities, all of which have historically tended to vote for the Labour party and its more left-wing alternatives.

Other areas in Tower Hamlets include the famous Spitalfields, home to some of London’s most popular street markets; Mile End, which played home to both London’s first ever Jewish theatre and more recently to one of the largest concerts ever played by one of Britain’s most successful modern day groups, Blur; Wapping, which is the location for the printing of Britain’s biggest selling daily newspaper, The Sun; and Whitechapel, which has turned up in literature as diverse as Charles Dickens’ Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist along with a great deal of fiction concentrating on the crimes of “Jack the Ripper”. All in all, Tower Hamlets is a borough positively brimming with history.