Reference NumberP/BSL
TitlePapers of Paul Beasley
DescriptionExtensive correspondence and subject files relating to Beasley's public life as Councillor and Leader of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and his involvement in other organisations. Files include minutes, reports and printed publicity.

They cover an extraordinary range of matters in Tower Hamlets during a period of major urban development and renewal. A key focus of the collection is London Docklands. Files also shed light on issues facing the Bengali community, anti-racism campaigns, housing matters, funding and other support to multiple organisations and people across the borough. Papers also cover council matters, relations with the government, local government associations and trade unions.

Cataloguing update January 2024:

Descriptions to files on his public life (P/BSL/A) are being released for public access:
- Papers relating to 1975-1984 (series P/BSL/A/1-4): descriptions are available on this catalogue
- Papers relating to 1985-1986 (series P/BSL/A/5): Descriptions to P/BSL/A/5/1/1-55 are now available on this catalogue. Remainder - cataloguing in progress, contact staff for further details, files pending release during 2024-25.
- Papers as Board member of the London Docklands Development Corporation (series P/BSL/A/6): cataloguing in progress, contact staff for further details. Files pending release during 2024-25.

Records on his businesses and other personal matters are uncatalogued. Please contact staff for further details.
Extent926 catalogued files
AdminHistoryPaul Beasley, councillor and Leader of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets was born 19 December 1945 in Stepney.
He recounted 'We lived in Belgrave Street with two rooms on each floor and an outside toilet. We were lucky when we got a bathtub put in the kitchen' (see P/BSL/A/4/3/10, page 8 'The Highwayman' Parish Magazine, May 1984).

He went to school at St John Cass School, Duke Street; Hugh Myddelton Secondary School, Clerkenwell Green (1957-1963); and Central Foundation Grammar School, Cowper Street (1963-1964)

Beasley joined the Labour Party in 1963. He was active in the young socialists and the Poplar constituency party. He was selected as candidate in the borough elections in 1970 in the Poplar East Ward [later renamed East India Ward] and elected a member of London Borough of Tower Hamlets in September 1970. His appointments included:
1971-1972 Vice Chair of the Administration Committee
1972-1973 Vice Chair of the Finance Committee
1973-1974 Chairman of the Finance Committee
1974 elected Leader.

As Leader he worked closely with Peter Shore, M.P. and Jack Wolkind, Chief Executive of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
He became Mayor in 1985.

In a 'Personal Background' written on 16 June 1977 (archive reference: P/BSL/A/2/1/4), Beasley describes his career as follows:

'On leaving school [in 1963] he began studying law at Inner London Education Authority Evening Classes for The Institute of Legal Executives and was enrolled as an Associate Member of the Institute in November 1966. Since then has undertaken a variety of courses and seminars studying Local Government and changes in legislation including a Parliamentary Tour of Israel for the purpose of observing and studying their method of government.

[In 1964-1966 he was a Probate and Trust Assistant at Simmons and Simmons, solicitors] Until recently emplòyed by Messrs. Freshfields (Solicitors) of Grindall House, 25 Newgate Street, London, E. C.l., as a Trust Manager administering settled funds, investments and property, including advising Trustees on Capital Gains Tax and beneficiaries on financial affairs and personal tax. The firm having divested itself of many of these activities a full-time job no longer existed for a Trust Manager.

Having always taken a keen interest in the life of the area in which he lives, including an active membership of the Labour Party, was elected a Member of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in September 1970 at the age of 25 years. After holding a number of posts of responsibility including that of Chairnan of the Finance Committee was elected Leader of the Council in May 1974 at the age of 28 years and has been subsequently re-elected Leader of the Council each year.
[In this capacity he particularly focussed on helping formulate, develop and implement policies towards Inner City Regeneration and racial harmony].

He represents the Council on a number of bodies including the Docklands Joint Committee, London-On-Line Computer Consortium (of which he is a former Chairman), The Whitechapel Art Gallery, the Borough Law Centre and the Borough Arts Committee. The Borough Arts Committee which he helped to set-up actively involves individual artists as well as those in the Community Arts and is assisted by the Borough Council in staff and resources. His personal interests include Theatre, Music Hall and Jazz as well as having participated in Opera at both Sadler's Wells and Covent Garden and is keen to extend his knowledge in all Art forms.'

He had major involvement in voluntary sector organisations and 'was particularly involved in the re-development of the London Docklands with emphasis on private sector development as well as Government supported urban renewal.' (see archive reference: P/BSL/A/3/1/87)

He was also:
- Student Community Action Officer at the City of London Polytechnic in 1981
- founder member of the Tower Hamlets Law Centre and active member of the Centre until 1977
- founder member of the intermediate education centre at the Crypt in Bethnal Green
- founder member of the Tower Hamlets Arts Committee
- trustee of organisations including the Walworth and Aylesbury Community Art Trust, Whitechapel Art Gallery, the ArtPlace Trust and assisted in the establishment of the Tower Hamlets Association for Racial Justice.
In 1983 he was Development Adviser to the National Museum of Labour History.

His representation of the Council on outside bodies included:
LOLA [London-On-Line Authorities] Computer Consortium
Tower Hamlets Clothing Centre
London World Trade Centre Association

He was:
- Deputy Leader (in 1983) of the Labour Group on the London Boroughs Association
- President (in 1983) of the London Government Public Relations Association
- Chairman (in 1983) of Towbeam Limited, the publishers of Thames Mirror Newspaper
- Board member appointed by the Secretary of State to the London Docklands Development Corporation after its establishment. He had been 8 years active member of the previous Docklands Joint Committee. His work on the Board included Property Advisory Group and the London Enterprise Zone Board.

He was also administrator at Coverdale and Ebenezer Congregational Church (in 2001).

Paul Beasley lived at 79 Whitethorn Street, Bow (1975-1983) and later moved to The Manse, Care House, Bigland Street, Shadwell (there in 2001).
CustodialHistoryIn the 1980s papers first deposited by Paul Beasley at the National Museum of Labour History, then based at Limehouse Town Hall, amounting to 14 filing cabinets (see correspondence, P/BSL/A/5/1/6).
Some of these files were later transferred to Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives by the Museum in 1995. The remainder appears to have been returned to Beasley. He later transferred these as a gift to Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives, from his own filing cabinet storage.
RelatedMaterialFor records of Coverdale and Ebenezer Congregational Church, see collection reference W/CAE.
NotesCatalogued by Malcolm Barr-Hamilton and Richard Wiltshire. Special thanks to our volunteer for creating scope descriptions, labelling and packaging files.
Access StatusOpen
AccessConditionsSome material within this collection has been closed under current Data Protection legislation as the records concerned contain sensitive personal data. Please check specific item level descriptions for details, and refer any queries to the Heritage Officer (Archives).
RequestNO - This does not represent a physical document. Please click on the reference number and view list of records to find material available to order at file or item level.
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