Poplar 1921 – Councillors Revolt

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Poplar 1921 – Councillors Revolt

On July 29 it will be 93 years since thousands of people from Poplar marched in protest against a hike in rates charges demanded by the Government and the then London County Council.

The Poplar Councillors refused to pay  and ended up in court, arrested and in jail.  Among those sent to prison were George Lansbury, Angela Lansbury’s Grandfather and a number of women – one of them pregnant.

It was post World War One with high unemployment and many struggling to survive the poverty and  desperate conditions created by the economic situation. There was no social security and the poor had to rely on the Council to help them out.

Poplar 1921 – Councillors Revolt

The Councillors had argued that Poplar was paying far too much in rates compared to the richer boroughs of London who had lower population numbers.

After six weeks, on 12 October 1921, such was the campaign in their support, the Councillors were released with their principal demand won.


Their rebellion eventually led to a major change in rates distribution creating a fairer system among the boroughs of London which still applies today

We tracked down descendants of the Councillors and a court lawyer who tell the story of the rebellious Councillors of Poplar.

Black and White photos courtesy Chris Sumner

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