Friday, 4 December 2015
Mile End Waste, Mile End Road E1
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.