Burns Road, SW11

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Laid out over former allotments sometime between the First and Second World Wars. John Burns (October 20, 1858 – January 24, 1943) was a trade unionist and radical MP for Battersea between 1892 and 1918. Brought up in a working class household he attended a national school in Battersea until he was ten years old and then started work at Price’s Candle Factory. He had a succession of jobs until he was 14 when he started a seven-year apprenticeship to an engineer at Millbank but he continued his education at night-schools. As a young man he was arrested several times for his role in open political meetings including taking part in one demonstration against unemployment which resulted in the West End riots in which the windows of the Carlton Club and other London clubs were broken. He was later found not guilty of sedition. In local politics he played a major role in the creation of Battersea’s Latchmere Estate, the first municipal housing estate built using a council’s own direct labour force, it officially opened in 1903. He later became a Liberal Member of Parliament, the Labour Party had not yet formed. He was anti-alcohol and a keen sportsman. As a MP he opposed the Boer War but he interspersed his arguments with his antisemitism, claiming that that fighting would protect the interests of Jewish South Africans. It was a theme he continued for some years. In later years he lived on the North Side, Clapham Common. After retiring from politics, he developed an expertise in London history and coined the phrase “The Thames is liquid history”.

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