Friday, 4 December 2015

Mile End Waste, Mile End Road E1

William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, began his mission as an independent preacher in 1865 on a rough area of common land known as Mile End Wastes, where he set up a tent and preached a gospel of forgiveness for all.
Today, Booth is commemorated by two statues in locality, but it is easy to forget that at the time he was only one of many - about 500 charities were working to alleviate poverty and eradicate sin in the East End. It was Booth's dynamism and his brilliant realisation that military ideas of esprit de corps could be adapted for God's purposes that set him apart.
The bronze bust, erected in 1927 opposite the Blind Beggar where he famously preached, shows Booth in full fig as General, complete with gold braid, epaulettes and insignia of office. It is by George Edward Wade and was cast at the Morris Art Bronze Foundry.
Wade, the son of a clergyman, was a self-taught sculptor who rejected experiment and just went for a good likeness. As a gentleman and a reliable pair of hands, he built up a lucrative practice immortalising the upper classes from Queen Victoria and Earl Haig down.
The Morris Art Foundry, one of the ancestors of today's Morris Singer Bronze Foundry, was founded in Lambeth by William Morris in 1921. No, not that William Morris, though apparently our Bill made no strenuous efforts to dispel the assumption that the firm had connections to the great designer, writer and socialist.

1 comment:

Hels said...

Views change over the decades. Although I agree with you that Booth's dynamism and his brilliant social work could be adapted for God's purposes, I am guessing that he wasn't popular with the entire community back in 1865. However lots of clever, hardworking people are undervalued in their own era so I am glad the Booth statue went up in 1927.