Picture of the Month

The (future) King's Speech

This picture shows HRH The Duke of York (later King George VI) at the opening of York Hall (named after him) in Bethnal Green in November 1929.

The new Public Baths and Washhouses in Old Ford Road cost about £125,000 and were among the best-equipped and most up-to-date in the country.

The Duke concluded his speech by saying, “We shall always retain very happy memories of our visit here today. We hope we may on some future occasion be able to come here and see you again”.

His subsequent visits to the East End as King George VI were as morale-boosting exercises during World War II.

In the centre of the picture is the Mayor of Bethnal Green, Councillor Wesley Clark Chandler J.P., and to his left the Duchess of York, later Queen Elizabeth.

Mile End Road showing the Peoples' Palace and St. Benet's church, c 1904.

The only structure still standing from this postcard view, partially hidden by trees, is the clock tower of the People’s Palace, now Queen Mary University of London.

The rather grand middle-class housing known as St Helen’s Terrace, dating from the late 1860s was demolished in the 1930s to make way for the new People’s Palace.

On the right is St Benet’s church, built in 1871-2, to the designs of Ewan Christian in the 13th century style. The church was badly damaged by enemy action in August 1940.

Deemed unnecessary under post-war reorganisation, it was demolished in 1950. The college chapel occupies part of its site.

Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives