Marking philanthropist centenary

Events are being organised to mark the centenary of the death of Victorian philanthropist John Passmore Edwards.

He was responsible for the funding of more than 70 public bodies including the libraries in Plaistow, Plashet, and Bow as well as the East Ham hospital and a wing of the West Ham hospital.

Now a series of programmes will be run throughout the year to commemorate and recognise the contribution that the Cornishman made to society.

Many are organised by The Passmore Edwards Centennial which is creating a link between the surviving Passmore buildings, the organisations associated with them and the communities to which they were given.

Dean Evans, who lives in Cornwall, has written a book called “Funding the Ladder, the Passmore Edwards legacy” which will be published by Francis Boutle at the end of March.

He told the Recorder: “His contribution to what is now Newham is in the people that have lived there, benefiting from the services that he was helping to provide and putting back into their community what they had gained.

“Free Libraries were not just the place of recreation, although he considered this of value in itself, but for many they were the only route to an education, many learning to read and write through the local library. It is not surprising that these basic literacy skills are, in many cases, still being provided through the library service.

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“Though many of the Passmore Edwards buildings are no longer used for their original purpose, the Plashet library now forming the Newham Registry Office and the West ham Museum part of the UEL, it is important to remember their origins and how they came to be there.”

Details of the programme of events marking the centenary of Passmore Edwards’s death are available on the website at

In East Ham, Edwards funded the East Ham hospital and the Plashet library, both designed by Trevail. Both East and West Ham granted Edwards honorary Freedom of the Borough as did Truro.