Bethnal Green

Bethnal Green
Bethnal Green Stairway to Heaven.jpg
Stairway to Heaven, also seen is Bethnal Green tube station, CoE St John Church and Salmon and Ball public house.
Bethnal Green is located in Greater London
Bethnal Green
Bethnal Green
Location within Greater London
Population27,849 (Bethnal Green North and Bethnal Green South wards 2011)[1]
• Charing Cross3.3 mi (5.3 km) SW
London borough
Ceremonial countyGreater London
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townLONDON
Postcode districtE1, E2
Dialling code020
EU ParliamentLondon
UK Parliament
London Assembly
List of places
51°31′39″N 0°03′58″W / 51°31′39″N 0°03′58″W / 51.5275; -0.066

Bethnal Green is an area in the East End of London which lies 3.3 miles (5.3 km) northeast of Charing Cross. It is an electoral ward of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, though the wider area stretches across both Bethnal Green Ward and St Peter's ward.[2][3] Part of the area has been designated by the council as a conservation area which includes a number of important listed buildings.[4] The area emerged from the hamlet which developed around the Green,[5] much of which survives today as Bethnal Green Gardens, located on Canbridge Heath Road.

The hamlet was part of the ancient parish of Stepney, but adopted its definition as a wider district when, following population increases caused by the expansion of London in the 18th century, it was split off from Stepney as the parish of Bethnal Green in 1743. It became part of the metropolis in 1855 and the County of London in 1889. The parish became the Metropolitan Borough of Bethnal Green in 1900. In 1965 it was abolished and became a district in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

The economic history of Bethnal Green is characterised by a shift away from agricultural provision for the City of London to market gardening, weaving and light industry, which has now all but disappeared. The quality of the built environment had deteriorated by the turn of the 20th century and was radically altered by aerial bombardment in the Second World War and the subsequent social housing developments. In 1943, 173 people were killed at a single incident at Bethnal Green Underground station. Bethnal Green has formed part of Greater London since 1965 and is connected to the London Underground and London Overground. In 2005 the area along with neighbouring Haggerston suffered a terrorist attack on a London Buses route 26 bus in the 21 July 2005 London bombings on Hackney Road.


The topographer Daniel Lysons suggested in the late 18th century that Bethnal was a corruption of the name Bathon-Hall which would have been the residence of a notable Bathon family who owned large areas of Stepney, the parish of which Bethnal Green was once a part. "Green" related to an area which lay "about half a mile beyond the suburbs".[6]

More recently it has been suggested that the name could be a derivation of the Anglo-Saxon Blithehale or Blythenhale from the 13th century. healh would have meant "angle, nook, or corner" and blithe would have been the word for "happy, blithe", or come from a personal name Blitha. Over time, the name became Bethan Hall Green, which, because of local pronunciation as Beth'n 'all Green, would eventually change to Bethnal Green.[7]