Our history – Lenin

  • 26
  • Sep

Delve deeper into the history of our borough with our series of posts in collaboration with Islington Museum and the Local History Centre. All objects mentioned are on display or held at these venues. Read the full series here.

Bust of Vladimir Lenin, 1942

Leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution

This bust was the centrepiece of a monument erected in 1942 by Finsbury Council in London. It was designed by the Russian architect Berthold Lubetkin and presented by the Soviet Embassy. The monument stood in Holford Square, looking towards number 30, where Lenin had lived in 1902-3.

Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924) lived in Clerkenwell (now Islington) while he worked on his revolutionary newspaper Iskra (The Spark), sharing the office of a socialist publisher at 37a Clerkenwell Green; the address is now the Marx Memorial Library.

When Russia became Britain’s ally in the Second World War, socialist Finsbury Council planned the monument as a sign of friendship. Some however thought Communism should not be celebrated and the bust was later vandalised. It was moved into storage in 1951. Displayed at Islington Town Hall during the 1970s, it was again vandalised when red paint was thrown over it. The bust became one of the symbols of what the press called a ‘Looney Left’ council in the 1980s.

The bust was transferred to Islington Museum in 1996 where it is now on permanent display.

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