Metropolitan Borough of Stepney

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Limehouse Town Hall - - 788445.jpg
The former Town Hall in Commercial Road
Metropolitan Borough shown within the County of London
Stepney within the County of London
 - 1911/1931 1,766 acres (7.15 km2)
 - 1961 1,771 acres (7.17 km2)
 - 1911 279,804
 - 1931 225,238
 - 1961 92,000
 - 1911 158/acre
 - 1931 127/acre
 - 1961 52/acre
 - Created 1900
 - Abolished 1965
 - Succeeded by London Borough of Tower Hamlets
Status Metropolitan borough (1900—1965)
Civil parish (1927—1965)
Government Stepney Borough Council
 - HQ 227-233 Commercial Road
 - Motto A Magnis Ad Maiora (From great things to greater)
Arms granted in 1931
Coat of arms of the borough council
Seal adopted in 1900
Borough seal

The Metropolitan Borough of Stepney was a Metropolitan borough in the County of London created in 1900. In 1965 it became part of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.


The borough was created by combining the areas of the following civil parishes and extra parochial places:

The area maps roughly to the London postcode E1.

The road sign in front of Mile End tube station and a street sign on Leman Street in Aldgate still have the wording "Borough of Stepney" just visible on them.

Borough seal and coat of arms[edit]

On the formation of the metropolitan borough the corporation adopted a seal depicting the patron saints of the parishes that made up the borough. These were St Anne, Limehouse, St Mary Matfelon, Whitechapel, St Dunstan, for Stepney and St George in the East. In the centre was a depiction of the Tower of London. At the top of the seal was a sailing ship, recalling the legend that all persons born on the high seas, could claim Stepney as their birthplace. The more modern ship and quayside at the bottom of the seal was for the borough's docks.On the left of the seal was a picture of a steam locomotive, for the London and Blackwall Railway, and on the right a loom for the historic weaving industry.

In 1931 the seal was replaced by an official coat of arms, granted by the College of Arms. The main item on the shield is a ship on the waves of the sea, for the various maritime interests of Stepney. At the top of the shield are shown a version of the arms of the City of London, but with an anchor replacing the sword in the city's arms. On either side of this were placed smith's tongs, symbol of St Dunstan, patron saint of Stepney. The crest on the top of the helm featured a mural crown, representing the battlements of the Tower of London. Atop the crown were two crossed gold anchors. The Latin motto: A magnis ad maiora, can be translated as from great things to greater. When Stepney became part of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, the arms of the new borough were based on Stepney's, and an English-language version of the motto was adopted.

Population and area[edit]

The area of the borough was 1,766 acres (7.1 km2). The populations recorded in National Censuses were:

Stepney Civil Parish 1801-1899

Year[1] 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
Population 113,281 131,606 153,749 175,088 203,802 238,910 257,497 275,467 282,676 285,225

Metropolitan Borough 1900-1961

Year[2] 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961
Population 298,600 279,804 249,657 225,238 [3] 98,858 92,000


A statue of Clement Attlee, mayor of Stepney (1919) and MP for Limehouse stands outside Limehouse Library.
  • Robert Donald, ed. (1907). "London: Stepney". Municipal Year Book of the United Kingdom for 1907. London: Edward Lloyd. 
  • Youngs, F. A., Guide to Local Administrative Units of England, Vol. 1, Southern England, London, 1979
  • Vision of Britain website [1]


  1. ^ Statistical Abstract for London, 1901 (Vol. IV).
  2. ^ Stepney MetB: Census Tables at Vision of Britain accessed on 14 Dec 2006
  3. ^ The census was suspended for World War II

See also[edit]

Coordinates: 51°31′08″N 0°02′34″W / 51.5190°N 0.0427°W / 51.5190; -0.0427