Rooftop protest at workhouse

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Published: 25 October 1913

There were thrilling scenes on the roof of Whitechapel Workhouse at Mile End in London today. An inmate at the workhouse scaled the roof and, for over an hour, kept the authorities at bay, as hundreds of onlookers offered him their support. Although paralysed in one leg, the man showed great agility to climb from one part of the roof to another, before raining slates down on the workhouse attendants.

Attempts to force the man down off the roof by spraying him with water from the workhouse hose failed. Instead, he addressed the crowd who had gathered below and told them that he was being badly treated in the workhouse and that he would not leave the roof voluntarily. He was cheered by a large section of the crowd who sympathised with his words and actions.

Eventually, the local fire brigade placed ladders against the wall and climbed on the roof, before persuading the man to come down.

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