Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dilip Sardar: The first Bengali Tower Hamlets Council employee?

 On Friday evening I went to a UNISON reunion with former colleagues who use to work in the Malmesbury Housing office in Bow, East London. We were all pleased to see Dilip (left) who retired from the Council 7 years ago.

Dilip joined the then Bethnal Green Council on 16 January 1962.  He started work in the Stores department of the depot in Digby Street, E2.  His manager at that time was not known by his job title but by his former military rank as "Major".   In 1965 Bethnal Green, Stepney and Poplar councils were merged to form "Tower Hamlets".

Dilip thinks in 1962 he may have been the first Tower Hamlets Council employee of Bengali origin.  Even though bearing in mind the strong trading links between Bengal and the Docks there was probably others who worked for the predecessor councils.  Dilip is a Hindu Bengali from outside Calcutta while most Bengali's in Tower Hamlets are Muslims who have roots in Bangladesh.

I first worked with Dilip as an Estate Officer in Malmesbury in the early 1990's together with our former manager, the shy and retiring, Derek Barclay (top right) and the hero of the hour Caretaking team leader, Montrose Matty (bottom right).  We reminisced about the good old days when there use to regular weekly team and community building meetings every Friday afternoon in various local public bars. 

Malmesbury was the last big estate (800 units) to be built by Tower Hamlets Council in the early 1980's.  We were based in a former fish and chip shop in Heylyn Square, E3.

The estate office also managed George Lansbury House (which was built near his former home) and the Minnie Lansbury Memorial Clock on Electric House.  The famous Match Womens strike of 1888 also took place within the Estate boundaries.

A good night was had by all.

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