Council homes named after Canning Town-born pioneering footballer
- Credit: Andrew Baker
A new block of council homes has been named after a pioneering footballer born in Canning Town.
Jack Leslie should have become the first black footballer to play for England when he was called up to a squad in 1925 - but he was denied the chance to play when the selection committee realised the colour of his skin.
Jack was born in Gerald Road, Canning Town in 1901 and played for Barking FC before scoring 127 goals in 401 appearances for Plymouth Argyle.
He was the only black professional footballer in the country for much of his career.
After an eye injury ended his playing days in 1934, Jack worked in the West Ham bootroom, preparing footwear for the likes of Bobby Moore.
Now Newham Council has decided to name 15 council flats it is building in Canning Town in Jack's honour.
A topping-out ceremony for the newly named Jack Leslie Point was also attended by members of Jack's family.
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The borough's mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said: “I’m proud and privileged to be here with members of Jack’s family as a woman of colour who has been trying to do some pioneering things by being disruptive.
"I hope we have done as best as we can in Jack’s memory and that he will forever be immortalised in this building.
"Being held back because of the colour of your skin or because you’re a woman or because we may not be as able as what society says to us is normal is what my administration has been fighting against.”
The site of Jack Leslie Point was previously occupied by under used garages, the council said.
A spokesperson explained that the development will be car free, but there will be disabled parking spaces.
Ms Fiaz added: "I’m really proud that at Jack Leslie Point we are at a landmark stage in the construction, just one year after starting, and that it will be finished this November.”
The three-storey building will include four one-bedroom flats, five two-bedroom flats, four three-bedroom flats and two three-bedroom wheelchair accessible flats.
A council blue plaque has also been installed in Gerald Road.