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Poplar, London facts for kids

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Poplar all saints church 1.jpg
All Saints Church, Poplar
Poplar is located in Greater London
OS grid reference TQ375805
• Charing Cross 5.5 mi (8.9 km) W
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district E14
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament
  • Poplar and Limehouse
London Assembly
List of places
51°30′24″N 0°01′04″W / 51.5066°N 0.0178°W / 51.5066; -0.0178

Poplar is a district in East London, England, the administrative centre of the borough of Tower Hamlets. Five miles (8 km) east of Charing Cross, it is part of the East End.

It is identified as a major district centre in the London Plan, with its district centre being Chrisp Street Market, a significant commercial and retail centre surrounded by extensive residential development. Poplar includes Poplar Baths, Blackwall Yard and Trinity Buoy Wharf and the locality of Blackwall.

Originally part of the Manor and Ancient Parish of Stepney, the Hamlet of Poplar had become an autonomous area of Stepney by the 17th century, and an independent parish in 1817. The Hamlet and Parish of Poplar included Blackwall and the Isle of Dogs. After a series of mergers, Poplar became part of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in 1965.

Area's profile

Architecturally it is a mixture of 18th and 19th-century terraced houses and 20th-century council estates.


Stepney Civil Parish Map 1870
A map showing the civil parish boundaries in 1870.
Poplar Met. B Ward Map 1916
A map showing the wards of Poplar Metropolitan Borough as they appeared in 1916.

St Matthias Old Church is located on Poplar High Street, opposite Tower Hamlets College. It is next to Poplar Town Hall – which has mosaic detail – and Poplar Bowls Club, which is part of Poplar Recreation Ground. A recently reopened sports centre called The Workhouse stands on the site of Poplar Workhouse, where local politician Will Crooks spent some of his earliest years (a nearby council housing estate is named after him).

The Metropolitan Borough of Poplar was the location, in 1921, of the Poplar Rates Rebellion, led by the Mayor, George Lansbury, who was later elected as leader of the Labour Party. As part of the 1951 Festival of Britain, a new council housing estate was built to the north of the East India Dock Road and named the Lansbury Estate after him. This estate includes Chrisp Street Market, which was greatly commended by Lewis Mumford. The same era also saw the construction of the Robin Hood Gardens housing complex (overlooking the northern portal of the Blackwall Tunnel) – designed by architects Peter and Alison Smithson – and the similarly brutalist Balfron Tower, Carradale House and Glenkerry House (to the north) – designed by Ernő Goldfinger. Other notable buildings in Poplar include Poplar Baths, which reopened in 2016 having finally closed in 1988, after the efforts of local campaigners.

During the development of the Isle of Dogs the street signs pointed to the new development (by the LDDC), and Poplar was lost for a decade or more.

In 1998, following ballots of the residents, Tower Hamlets Council transferred parts of the Lansbury estate and six other Council housing estates within Poplar to Poplar HARCA, a new housing association set up for the purpose of regenerating the area. The following year, tenants on further estates voted to remain with the Council. However, after a lengthy consultation of all Council estates in Tower Hamlets begun in 2002, most estates in Poplar did transfer to Poplar HARCA, East End Homes and other landlords between 2005 and 2007.

Wartime bombings

Although many people associate wartime bombing with The Blitz during World War II, the first airborne terror campaign in Britain took place during the First World War. Air raids in World War One caused significant damage and took many lives. German raids on Britain, for example, caused 1,413 deaths and 3,409 injuries. Air raids provided an unprecedented means of striking at resources vital to an enemy's war effort. Many of the novel features of the war in the air between 1914 and 1918—the lighting restrictions and blackouts, the air raid warnings and the improvised shelters—became central aspects of the Second World War less than 30 years later.

The East End of London was one of the most heavily targeted places. Poplar, in particular, was struck badly by some of the air raids during the First World War. Initially these were at night by Zeppelins which bombed the area indiscriminately, leading to the death of innocent civilians.

The first daylight bombing attack on London by a fixed-wing aircraft took place on 13 June 1917. Fourteen German Gotha G bombers led by Hauptmann Ernst Brandenberg flew over Essex and began dropping their bombs. It was a hot day and the sky was hazy; nevertheless, onlookers in London's East End were able to see 'a dozen or so big aeroplanes scintillating like so many huge silver dragonflies'. These three-seater bombers were carrying shrapnel bombs which were dropped just before noon. Numerous bombs fell in rapid succession in various districts. In the East End alone 104 people were killed, 154 seriously injured and 269 slightly injured.

The gravest incident that day was a direct hit on a primary school in Poplar. In the Upper North Street School at the time were a girls' class on the top floor, a boys' class on the middle floor and an infant class of about 50 pupils on the ground floor. The bomb fell through the roof into the girls' class; it then proceeded to fall through the boys' classroom before finally exploding in the infant class. Eighteen pupils were killed, of whom sixteen were aged from 4 to 6 years old. The tragedy shocked the British public at the time.

In art, entertainment, and media

Balfron Tower has been featured in various other music videos, films and television programmes, as have various other locations in Poplar. According to movie website IMDb, locations around Poplar have been used in the following feature films:

  • 1984 (1956)
  • To Sir, With Love (1967)
  • A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
  • The World Is Not Enough (1999)
  • The Da Vinci Code (2003)
  • 28 Weeks Later (2007; Woodstock Terrace and Balfron Tower)


  • The documentary film Fly a Flag for Poplar (1974) features Poplar and the people who live there, seen in their day-to-day lives and organising their own local festivals. Poplar today is looked at in the light of the past, the importance of the labour movement in the beginning of the century, highlighted by the great strikes and events of 1921 when the Poplar Council went to prison.
  • Madonna shot scenes in Poplar Baths for the film Shanghai Surprise (1986).
  • A documentary film about Chrisp Street Market, E14: A Dying Trade, was filmed in 2011.


  • The BBC One television series, Call the Midwife, is set in Poplar in the 1950s.

Notable residents

See also (related category): People from Poplar, London
  • Teddy Baldock, "The Pride of Poplar", Commonwealth Boxing Bantamweight Champion 1928–30
  • Neil Banfield, coach at Arsenal F.C.
  • Will Crooks MP, social reformer and first Labour mayor in London; the Will Crooks estate on Poplar High Street is named after him
  • Alfie Doughty, footballer for Stoke City
  • Tommy Flowers, designer of the first programmable electronic computer used for code breaking at Bletchley Park, born at 160 Abbott Road
  • Alfred Hitchcock, film director, lived in Salmon Lane as a child. His family had a fishmongers there and lived above the shop.
  • Sir Nicholas de Loveyne held the manor of Poplar and made his will there in 1375, four days before he died.
  • Charlie Magri, world champion flyweight boxer, grew up on the Burdett Estate.
  • John McDougall, politician, represented Poplar from 1889 to 1913. A small park near Millwall Dock is named after him.
  • John Mucknell, "The King's Pirate" (born 1608, lived in Poplar after he married)
  • Harry Redknapp, football manager, formerly of Bournemouth, West Ham United, Southampton, Portsmouth, Tottenham Hotspur and Queens Park Rangers football clubs. Father of Jamie Redknapp, the former Liverpool captain
  • Richard Spratly, discoverer of the Spratly Islands in 1843
  • H. M. Tomlinson, travel-writer, journalist, and author of The Sea and the Jungle (1912)
  • Jennifer Worth, Call the Midwife author
  • Rip, search and rescue dog, and Dicken Medal recipient.



Poplar is connected to other areas of East London by the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). Four stations serve the area, including All Saints, Langdon Park, Poplar, and East India. DLR stations in Poplar are in London fare zone 2, and link the area to destinations such as Bank (in the City), Canary Wharf, City Airport, Greenwich, and Stratford.

Poplar DLR station is a focal point for the DLR network, where several different routes converge.

The nearest London Underground station is Canary Wharf, which is served by Jubilee line trains. The station will also be linked to the Crossrail network.

The nearest National Rail station is at Limehouse, which is served by c2c trains between London Fenchurch Street (in the city) and destinations in South Essex, including Southend Central.


Poplar is served by London Buses routes 15, 115, 309, D6 and night bus routes N15 and N551.


Poplar is well connected to destinations in East London and East Anglia by road:

  • The  A12  runs along the eastern edge of Poplar and carries traffic northbound towards Stratford and Hackney Wick. It continues towards the M11, Romford, and Chelmsford. Its southern terminus is in Poplar, at a junction with the A13 and A102.
  • The  A13  (East India Dock Road) runs through the centre of Poplar west-east. Westbound, the A13 links the area to Limehouse, Aldgate, and the city. Heading east, the road runs towards Canning Town, Barking, Tilbury, and Southend-on-Sea.
  • The  A102  (Blackwall Tunnel) begins on the eastern side of Poplar at a junction with the A12 and A13. The road runs underneath the River Thames towards the Greenwich Peninsula, the A2, and south-east London.
  • The  A1206  (Cotton Street) runs from the A13 through the eastern edge of Poplar. South of Aspen Way, the road runs around the outer rim of the Isle of Dogs, connecting Poplar to Canary Wharf and Millwall.
  • The  A1261  (Aspen Way) runs along the southern rim of Poplar, separating the area from Canary Wharf. Aspen Way runs eastbound towards the Limehouse Link and the A13, both of which continue towards Limehouse and the city. Westbound, the road runs to Blackwall, the A13, and the A1020 towards the ExCeL and City Airport.

Poplar High Street runs through the centre of Poplar.


Cycle Superhighway 3 (CS3) passes east–west through Poplar, along Poplar High Street. The route runs unbroken and signposted westbound towards Lancaster Gate (Hyde Park) via Shadwell, the city, Victoria Embankment, and Parliament Square. Eastbound cyclists leave Poplar on Naval Row, following signposts towards Canning Town and the A13. The route runs alongside the A13 towards Canning Town, East Ham, and Barking.

National Cycle Route 13 follows the route of CS3 through Poplar. This long-distance route links Tower Hill to Fakenham, Norfolk. The route does not run continuously; however, east of Poplar, the route runs non-stop as far as Purfleet, via the ExCeL and Rainham.


Langdon Park School is a mixed secondary school and sixth form, located northeast of Chrisp Street Market.

The George Green's School was founded in 1828 by George Green, a shipbuilder and shipwright. It was originally located on East India Dock Road. Today it is a voluntary controlled school supported by the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights located on the Isle of Dogs peninsula.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Poplar (Londres) para niños

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