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What's On

Painting the Hamlets
Exhibition and Events
Thursday 15 November - Saturday 15 June 2019
Painting the Hamlets is a display of paintings from our collections which depict landscapes, river views and street scenes in Tower Hamlets. Most of the work featured is from the twentieth century and the artists featured include the former Mayor of Bethnal Green and member of the East London Group of artists, Albert Turpin. Works by Doreen Fletcher, Ronald Morgan, Noel Gibson, Rose Henriques, and Geoffrey Scowcroft Fletcher also feature.

A special event for Holocaust Memorial Day
Thursday 24 January, 6.30pm-7.45pm
Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives
In partnership with UK Jewish Film, we at Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives are hosting a free participatory film archive workshop. The event will explore the purpose, significance and representation of Holocaust narratives, showing clips from a range of feature films and documentaries as well as archival footage. There will also be a display of materials from our collections illustrating the proud history of anti-fascist resistance in the East End of London.
Doors open from 6.00pm. All are welcome but spaces are limited. Please email to reserve your place. This event is part of Tower Hamlets Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations, which also features a Jewish heritage walk and an interfaith memorial service at East London Central Synagogue on Sunday 27 January. Please click here for further information.

LGBTQ+ History Month

Exhibtition: Shared Visions 
2-28 February
February is LGBTQ+ History Month and we are delighted to mark the occasion with a display of artwork by Stepney based artist Cornelius McCarthy (1935-2009) whose sketchbooks and a number of paintings we hold in our collections. Regular readers may recall we hosted a retrospective of his paintings in 2015 which had been organised by the late artist's friend and biographer Peter Dobson. Sadly, Peter died last year, leaving behind a number of poems inspired by his appreciation for Cornelius's artwork and their nearly 50 years' long friendship. We are honoured to have been asked by Peter's partner to host a display of rarely seen prints by Cornelius McCarthy alongside some of Peter's poetry in commemoration of both artists.

Evening wine reception
Thursday 21 February, 6.00-8.00pm
There will be an evening wine reception featuring a short speech by Stewart Hardman of Adonis Art, and a short poetry reading by Stan Lloyd. If you would like to attend this event, please email to aid us in planning the catering.

On the same evening, our Education Room will host a special event organised by Tower Hamlets LGBT Community Forum, featuring comedian Rosie Wilby performing parts of her stand-up show Is Monogamy Dead? along with audience discussion. The timescales for each event will be published on our website nearer the time and will allow attendees to attend both events if they so wish.

Women's History Month

Exhibition: Sarah Chapman, Matchgirl - Story of a Strike Leader
Friday 8 - Friday 29 March
March is Women's History Month! And we've got  a brand new exhibition on our first floor landing bringng a new personal slant to the famous Match Girls' Strike of 1888, this time from the perspective of local, working class girl Sarah Chapman of Mile End. Sarah was among the factory workers who met with the Directors of Bryant and May and courageously argued for better terms and working conditions. Sarah’s legacy continues today, but her role has been largely unnoticed until now.

Exhibition Launch
Friday 8 March, 6:00 - 7:30pm
All are welcome to join us the preview of our new Sarah Chapman exhibition with a welcome from her great-grand-daughter Sam Johnson, a poetry reading by Anne Cooper and storytelling by Sinead O'Brien. Please email if you intend to come.

Talk: Discovering Sarah Chapman
Thursday 21 March, 6:30 - 7:45pm
Sam Johnson, the great-grand daughter of the 1888 Match Strike leader Sarah Chapman and Anna Robinson, Senior Lecturer at University of East London will share their journeys in discovering the vital but largely unnoticed story of political activist Sarah Chapman.

Talk: An evening with Cate Tuitt
Thursday 14 March, 6.30-7.30 
Join us for what is bound to be a fantastic discussion of reflection and insight from the first Black female councillor in Tower Hamlets. Cate Tuitt started out as an activist in the 1980s, campaigning to investigate racial discrimination and deaths in police custody. Cate became interested in law when she became a trustee at CAPA (Community Action Police Accountability). At the age of 16 she was the youngest trustee on the board. Witness to many racially motivated attacks and crimes, and noticing that the law did not always bring justice to these crimes, she was inspired to go into local politics, becoming the first female black councillor in Tower Hamlets in 1996. Free, no booking required.

Film Screening: Kathleen Wrsam
Thursday 28 March, 6.00-7.45pm
A participatory session hosted by Numbi Arts, exploring rare film archive and library materials to piece together the incredible story of Kathleen Wrsama who came from Ethiopia via Yorkshire to set up one of the first lodging houses for Somali seamen in the East End and, in the 1950s, helped to establish the so-called Stepney Coloured People’s Association.
Doors open at 6pm with the opportunity to have a look at relevant materials from the collections, including the archive of Stepney social activist Edith Ramsay. The documentary screening will begin at 6.30 followed by a Q&A and creative response activity. Free, no booking required.


East End History Club 2019
The East End History club is a great opportunity to explore our collections in an informal environment. You can expect photographs, maps and pamphlets relating to the East End, exploring the landscape of the borough, social housing, migration, the docks and more. 

Saturday 16 February, 2.00-4.00pm 
Saturday 6 April 2.00-4.00pm
Saturday 15 June 2.00-4.00pm
Saturday 17 August 2.00-4.00pm
Saturday 19 October 2.00-4.00pm
Saturday 7 December 2.00-4.00pm

Teas and coffee provided and it's free to attend. There is no need to book.

Online exhibition

We are pleased to report that a new online exhibition is now available. From Town Hall to Local History Library & Archives: a short history of our service and premises, 1861-2015 is based on research undertaken for last year's 50th anniversary celebrations of the borough.

If you've ever wondered about the history of our Grade 2 listed building here on Bancroft Road, these web pages will reveal all.

Local History Library & Archive Newsletter