Thursday, July 12, 2012

Keir Hardie: First Labour MP 120th Anniversary Event

Last Wednesday 4th July was the 120th anniversary of the election of Keir Hardie as the first Labour MP.

He was elected as MP for West Ham South in the 1892 General Election.

The modern day West Ham Consistency Labour Party and Newham TULO organised a commemorative tour to mark the occasion. 25 people from Newham and East London turned up.

We started with a tour of the Old Town Hall in Stratford where the election count took place in 1892 and where Keir was announced the winner. We went onto the balcony overlooking the High Street where Keir made his acceptance speech in front of 15-20,000 people. Keir then led a march back through the borough to Canning Town.

We also went into the Bell Tower of the Town Hall and the basement Police cells. There use to be a Magistrate court next door. (Off message - but tradition states that these were the very cells that Mick Jagger and Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones rock group were held in the 1960's for minor public order offences).

We underestimated how long it would take to complete the tour of the Town Hall so we didn't manage to visit the other sites which included historic locations of the radical and suffragette clubs from Hardie's time. 

We stopped off at the Martyrs Memorial in the Church yard of St John.  Which is not about Hardie but is a symbol remembering religious persecution and bigotry down the ages. We finished up outside the famous Theatre Royal built in 1882. Then in the bar for a quick drink followed by a curry in West Ham Lane.

Following the success of this event we are aiming to carry out further Labour movement tours in the future. Details to follow.

Picture outside the Old Town Hall by Dan McCurry. I'll post more pictures of Facebook. Finally, many, many thanks to the Old Town Hall staff for the tour and their enthusiasm: Update see tour photo's here

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