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The Belles of Bow!

Yesterday I spent the day in Bow. There’s a heritage trail that simply oozes suffragette pride.

Sylvia Pankhurst, the daughter of Emmeline came to live here and she set up the East London Federation of Suffragettes.

I can honestly say that I have not felt such a sense of the past with anywhere else in London yet. I suppose because I used to work over in Liverpool Street and I know Whitechapel and Brick lane so well my time spent around this area has given me a familiarity which has somehow softened the place but with Bow I saw it all. Life in London from the poverty to absolutely NO gentrification. This is London good and proper.

Every person I met without exception and yes I mean without exception was just wonderful. From the mother pushing her little girl in a pram who asked me if she could help to the server in the pie shop who beamed at me. People just randomly smiled in the street and said hello. It was something I am not used to. I walked with the mother for about half a mile telling her that Ghandi had stayed there in the 1930s. Her face lit up as she said ‘Oh my gawd, never knew that. Wait til I tell them at ‘ome’. It was charming.

Because gentrification has been slower here than in other parts of London you can still see glimpses of the late 1800s. Local people have taken it upon themselves to start artisan businesses. Also the statues and art installations were frequently by women. It's as if Tower Hamlets has more faith in women artists than the areas of Mayfair and Marylebone for example or maybe it simply comes down to money.

I am just finalising this tour. We will make our way through some impoverished parts and through high rises into pocket of the past. You will see London like you have never done before but if you are fascinated by real lived experiences and culture then this will be a tour for you.

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