Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Coming Up in the Autumn (or sooner or later)

Listings form various groups and organisations, for different dates and places, in no particular order

Socialist bookshop calls for solidarity following Nazi attack
Bookmarks bookshop in Bloomsbury, central London, has called on supporters to attend a solidarity event following an attack by far  right thugs.
Twelve men invaded the shop last Saturday, destroying displays,  wrecking books and chanting Alt-right slogans. One was wearing a  Donald Trump mask.
Since the attack Bookmarks the socialist bookshop has received  messages of support from leading figures in the trade union and labour  movements and thousands of activists from around the world.
Those tweeting their support include singer and activist Billy Bragg,  Rupa Huq MP, historian Louise Raw and Guardian columnist Owen Jones.
David Lammy MP tweeted: “The normalisation of far right politics is  already leading to chaos and vandalism on our streets. Fascist thugs  attacking book shops is the logical conclusion to a political movement which rejects facts and experts. We need to be vigilant.

Bookmarks is holding a solidarity event in the shop on Saturday 11
August from 2pm. Throughout the afternoon there will be author readings
as well as speakers from the trade union and labour movement.

Dave Gilchrist, manager of Bookmarks, said: “This horrific attack on a  radical bookshop should send shivers down the spine of anyone who  knows their history. The Nazis targeted books because they knew how  important radical ideas are for challenging racism and fascism. The  same is true today, and that is why we have to show that we won’t be  intimidated.
Bookmarks is also calling on supporters to donate funds to help  bolster security in the shop and to replace lost stock. Donations can  be transferred to: Sort Code: 30 93 29 A/c: 00089719

Bookmarks solidarity event

At Senate House Library
Rights for Women: London's Pioneers in their own words
Started 16 July, on till 15 December 
A free exhibition and events season exploring over 50 of London’s female pioneers who broke barriers to drive change and establish rights for women.
A pioneer: Mary Wollstonecraft portrayed by John Opie.
(National Portrait Gallery)
Guided Walking Tour
Rights for Women: London's Pioneers in their Own Words
Location: Bloomsbury area - meet at Senate House entrance by the cloisters.
Capacity: 20 people per tour

To accompany the exhbition Rights for Women: London's Pioneers in their Own Words, we are providing guided walking tours around the local Bloomsbury area. During the 1hr and 45 mins tour, you will see where 17 of the pioneers featured in the exhibition lived, worked and fought for women's rights. These tours are led by the Camden Tour Guide Association.
Requirements: Proof of your booking will be needed for the tour (please show the tour leader your booking either on your mobile device or print out). To ensure you have the best time on the tour, please ensure you wear comfortable footwear and we advise you to bring a bottle of water.
 Duration: 1hr 45 mins 
 4 August 2018
President: Peter Hennessy

 Meeting on Saturday 11th August 2018
            at the Epicentre, West Street, Leytonstone E11 4LJ

"Is Local Press All Over?" Speaker: David Floyd
David is a founder member of Social Spider (a Community Interest Company) in Waltham Forest, set up in 2003. He researches and writes about social enterprise development and social innovation and is the author of the booklet ‘Why Social Enterprise? A Guide for Charities.’  He has written for The Guardian, The Young Foundation and Pioneers Post, has lectured at Goldsmiths College, Middlesex University and the University of the West of England and runs poetry events at the Torriano meeting house. As one of the founders in 2014 of the free independent monthly newspaper, the Waltham Forest ECHO, he will consider whether local newspapers have a future and reveal to us the inner workings of the popular ECHO. (James Cracknell, the editor, is unable to attend as previously publicised and sends his apologies).
 Free entry   7.30pm Buffet   Speaker 8pm  Raffle
Enquiries & to join our mailing list:  0208 555 5248
 ‘The club is a beacon of light.’ - Peter Cormack, Former Keeper of the William Morris Gallery E17
History Walk: Peterloo and Radical Manchester
 Historian Michael Herbert will be leading  a Peterloo walk on  Thursday 16th August,   starting at 11.00am  from the main  door of ManchesterCathedral.

The Peterloo  Massacre  took place on 16th  August  1819. A peaceful crowd, gathered at St Peter’s Fields in Manchester   to demand political reform, was attacked by the military,  resulting in at least
18 deaths and hundreds of injuries.
This walk will explore episodes in  Manchester radical  history,  including the Siege of Manchester in 1642, Thomas Walker and the Manchester radical movement of the 1790s,  and the riot at the Royal
Exchange in 1812.  It will end at the site of Peterloo   with an account of what took place on the day hour by hour.
Michael says, "In this walk I will be trying to set Peterloo in a wider context, exploring some of the events in Manchester’s history  which preceded  it . I have become increasingly concerned that the remembrance of  Peterloo has focused just on the events of the day and nothing else.
I am also concerned that it’s being sanitised  and annexed into the heritage industry, particular  the idea of a memorial which I oppose.  If people wish to remember Peterloo , they should take the streets as they did in 1819 and protest against poverty and exploitation."

 The cost will be £8. Advance booking is strongly  recommended  and can be done by emailing:
Please note that this walk has no connection whatsoever with the Peterloo Memorial Committee.

From/At WCML
Working Class Movement Library
51 The Crescent
Salford, M5 4WX
Building work at the Library
Work will shortly begin on a major project to eradicate the damp in our cellar.  The project will have major benefits such as increasing our storage capacity, as well as ensuring vastly improved storage conditions for the precious material stored on the 0.7kms of cellar shelving.
Needless to say, there will be disruption to the usual running of the Library while this work is underway.  In particular, it will not be possible for readers to have ready access to the full range of our boxes of pamphlet material/newspapers/journals.  The first phase of the project has begun and is likely to last at least until mid-November.  If planning a trip to use our collections, PLEASE contact us in advance to check availability of material you wish to see, to save yourself a potential wasted journey.
Sorry, but [contrary to previous announcement] we will also not be in a position to accept donations of material during this period.
The autumn events programme will run as planned - more details at
How do we get radical change? A discussion meeting
On Saturday 1 September from 11am to 1pm the Library is hosting a discussion meeting on lessons from socialist history / addressing urgent issues today.
Challenges from climate change to increasing inequality show the urgent need for effective radical politics.
This discussion event is an opportunity to debate strategy and direction, drawing lessons from socialist history, and relating them to current issues in British and local politics….
  • Helen Antrobus, People's History Museum, Manchester
  • Christine Berry, researcher/writer on economic change, co-author of People get ready (forthcoming, 2019).
  • John Callaghan, Professor of Politics and Contemporary History, ‎University of Salford
  • Councillor John Ferguson, Labour Party, and Salford City Council Lead Member for Workforce and Industrial Relations
  • Mike Makin-Waite, author of Communism and Democracy (Lawrence and Wishart, 2017) and member of Editorial Board, Socialist History
  •   and discussion.
(All speakers are participating in a personal capacity.)
Admission free.  There is no advance booking for this event so please arrive early to be sure you get in - places in our annexe are limited.

Exhibition: The power of unity - 150 years of the TUC
In 1868 at the Mechanics' Institute in Manchester a meeting took place that became the first successful attempt to bring together the trades unions. The current exhibition at the Library, The power of unity, celebrates 150 years of the Trades Union Congress and looks at the continuing need for unions now.
An accompanying booklet is available for purchase here.
The exhibition runs until 27 September and is open Wednesdays to Fridays 1-5pm, and the first Saturday of the  month 10am-4pm.

The women who said ‘yes’!
An exhibition, The women who said ‘yes’!, is running at the People's History Museum until 23 September telling the extraordinary stories of the 17 women who stood for parliament in the 1918 general election, the first to accept women as candidates.  They ranged from an anti-suffrage woman, Violet Markham, to a long-standing suffrage activist, Emmeline Pethick Lawrence (who stood as Labour candidate for Rusholme), to Norah Dacre Fox, a former suffragette and a fascist sympathiser.
The exhibition also puts the 1918 general election into the wider context of the international feminist struggle for votes for women in the early 20th century.
Alison Ronan will be coming to the Library on 5 December as part of our next series of Invisible Histories talks to tell us more about this topic - more here.

Invisible Histories talks

  • Wednesday 26 September 2pm David Ebsworth Five things you (possibly) might not know about the Spanish Civil War
  • Wednesday 10 October NB 1pm-6.30pm  Not just Love on the dole: Walter Greenwood and working class writing. A joint event with the University of Salford, marking the 80th anniversary of the initial publication of Love on the Dole, and launching Chris Hopkins’s new book on the topic.  Full details at
  • Wednesday 24 October 2pm Kirsten Harris  Poetry for a new era: Walt Whitman and British socialism, 1880-1914
  • Wednesday 7 November 2pm Martin Empson, Joseph Arch: agricultural trade unionist and MP
  • Wednesday 21 November 2pm  MaD Theatre  Scenes from the play It’s the wrong way to tickle Mary. This event will feature extracts from MaD Theatre Company’s new play, set at the time of the suffragettes and the First World War, which premières at the Lowry in October
  • Wednesday 5 December 2pm Ali Ronan The women who said yes

Heritage Open Days
Every year in September, places across the country throw open their doors to celebrate their heritage, community and history. It’s your chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences – and it’s all free.  The Library is marking Heritage Open Days 2018 with 'behind-the-scenes' tours on Thursday 13 and Friday 14 September at 2pm.  Book in advance via

Conference, Reappraising the Representation of the People Act 1918
A day conference will take place on Friday 14 September at UCLan in Preston marking the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, which tripled the electorate. The Act and its legacy are still the subject of intense historical debate relating to gender, class and nationhood, and this conference draws together speakers who are currently involved in the debate.

The conference is free with lunch and refreshments provided.  Booking is required via Eventbrite here.
Furhter information from

Suffrage centenary conference - tickets now on sale

On Saturday 3 November at the Old Fire Station, University of Salford, the Library is staging a one-day conference examining the broad range of campaigns to extend the right to vote which have been virtually ignored in this centenary year.

The conference, More than just the Pankhursts: the wider suffrage movement, will run from 10am to 4pm and tickets including lunch and other refreshments price £18 (£10 concessions) + booking fee are now available via Eventbrite here.   More details to follow.

This event runs alongside our exhibition Votes for women… or votes for ladies?, which opens on 5 October. There will be the opportunity to view the exhibition, which will display items bought as part of the Library's Heritage Lottery-funded Voting for Change project, at lunchtime during the conference.

We are most grateful to the University of Salford for hosting this event.

Deborah Lavin on Annie Besant and Birth Control -- Annie Besant and the Liberal, Radical, Socialist and Feminist Opposition to Birth Control in the 19th Century.
Wednesday 28th November @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, WC1R 4RL
This talk is fifth in the series Writing Wrongs, curated by Deborah Lavin

Free but Registration essential… 
"The story of birth control is usually told as one of almost linear progress against blinkered bigotry. Opposition to contraception may have been blinkered and bigoted, but it was also often liberal, radical, socialist and feminist. Some very surprising figures, including Charles Darwin, Millicent Fawcett and Karl Marx, opposed the early birth controllers. With a brief look at the debates for and against birth control among early 19th century radicals and Utopians and the hounding of John Stuart Mill and Lord Amberley for their support of birth control, the talk goes on to consider the working of the 1857 Obscenity Act in relation to contraception. It will also look at Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh’s challenge to the law by republishing the birth control pamphlet Fruits of Philosophy and making themselves a test case; the ambiguous outcome of the trial and the foundation of the Malthusian Society, which supported birth control as the only cure for poverty; and the strong opposition of many Liberals, radicals, socialists and feminists to contraception. It’s a tale which reveals some very unexpected bedfellows and has relevance to today’s sexual debate." — 
Deborah Lavin is an independent historian, interested in the interface of radicalism, socialism and feminism in the 19th century. She has curated several talks series for Conway Hall and often gives talks herself. Upcoming in January at the Camden Local History, she will give a talk on on the radical Edward Truelove, who unluckier than his friends, Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh, ended up in prison for selling and publishing birth control pamphlets. Deborah’s short book Charles Bradlaugh contra Karl Marx, Radicalism vs Socialism in the First International was published by the Socialist History Society and she is currently finishing an enormous tome on a later 19th century figure most contemporaries thought ”best buried in oblivion”, Dr Edward Aveling.


From “Yellow Ticket” to “Bourgeois Evil”: Prostitution in Tsarist and Soviet Russia 1900-1930

Wednesday 3rd October 2018 19:00 
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London, WC1R 4RL 

Book your ticket for From “Yellow Ticket” to “Bourgeois Evil”, here… 
Prostitution flourished in Russia amidst the social, political and economic turbulence of the early twentieth century. Thousands of women sold sex in the Russian Empire’s rapidly expanding towns and cities in the early 1900s. Many registered their details with the police and attended regular gynaecological examinations in line with the Tsarist system for the regulation of prostitution, which remained in place from 1843 until the collapse of the autocracy in 1917. After their seizure of power in October 1917, the Bolsheviks made it their mission to eradicate prostitution. Early Soviet politicians categorised prostitution as a product of the undervaluation of female labour and the sexual double standard of the old capitalist regime. They claimed that socialism would bring about women’s equality and subsequently spell an end to commercial sex. However, the stigmatisation of women who sold sex continued across the revolutionary divide, which served to justify the repression of prostitutes as antisocial elements in the late 1920s. This talk examines the place of prostitution in Russian society both before and after the revolutions of 1917. In tracing continuity and change in the pre- and post-revolutionary periods, it will map state approaches to prostitution onto the turbulent landscape of revolutionary Russia. 
Dr Siobhán Hearne is a historian currently based at the University of Latvia in Riga. She received her PhD in History from the University of Nottingham in 2017 for a thesis about the state regulation of prostitution in the late Russian Empire, which involved archival research in Russia, Ukraine, Latvia and Estonia. She is currently drafting her thesis as a monograph entitled Policing Prostitution: The Regulation of Lower-Class People in Late Imperial Russia. She has published several articles on gender and sexuality in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. She tweets from @siobhanhearne

Socialist History Society

 Launch of a Socialist History Society Occasional Publication:
“The Labour Party in Historical Perspective”

Speakers: Graham Taylor, David Morgan and Duncan Bowie 
Housmans Bookshop, King’s Cross
On Tuesday 7th August, 6.30pm 
Entry fee £3 redeemable against purchase.
37a Clerkenwell Green EC1R 0DU (nearest tube Farringdon)


The Political Victims of the Nazis with Merilyn Moos
 2pm September 22nd 2018
Reflections on the Legacy of 1968 with Mike Makin­ Waite and David Parker
 2pm November 17th 2018 
Biennial Helliker Lecture 
27 October '18
WHITE HORSE Trades Union Council
2018 Helliker Lecture

To the Memory of Thomas Helliker, the Trowbridge Martyr 1784 -1803

Information Technology:
Challenges and Opportunities in the Workplace
Nigel Costley - SWTUC

The workplace and our digital future
Rosie MacGregor

West Wiltshire Information Systems: Lessons from a scandal
Mick Rix - GMB National Officer

Automation in distribution and the impact of I.T.
+ Others to be confirmed

Saturday 27th October 10.30 - 3.30
The Cause
42 The Causeway, Chippenham, SN15 3DD
Bar, Refreshments, Free Entry
Further Information 01225 865107

AGM Weekend
21st-22nd September in Glasgow
The AGM will be followed by a dinner and speaker event organised with Medact Glasgow and Medact Scotland. This will be a fantastic opportunity for Medact members and supporters from all around the UK to swap ideas and get to know each other.

To help us plan, we'd be very grateful if you could let us know if you think you'd like to come.

The following day, on 22nd September, we'll be joining people from across the world for the 'Nae Nukes Anywhere' peace rally at the Faslane Nuclear Base - home to the UK's Trident submarines. We'll be providing transport from Glasgow for anyone who'd like to come.

[The AGM is for members but obviously everyone is welcome to the demo. as follows]

From CND:

International anti-nuclear campaigners will address a major rally in Scotland in September. Activists from Israel, Russia, Iran, the Netherlands and South Korea will demand support for the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, as well as highlighting the majority opposition to Trident in Scotland.

The rally will take place thirty miles from Glasgow at Faslane, home to the naval base that hosts Britain's nuclear submarines

Speakers include: Sharon Dolev, Founding director of the Israeli Disarmament Movement; Ekatrina Earsalovna, Professor of International Relation, Ural Federal University; Anthony Donovan, writer, organiser and documentary maker on peace and disarmament from New York; Emad Kiyaei, a consultant from Iran; Maaike Beenes, an activist with PAX in the Netherlands; Members of the People’s Democratic Party, South Korea; Allison Pytlak, Reaching Critical Will; Timmon Wallis,, United States.

Nae Nukes Anywhere: demo at Faslane nuclear base
22 September 2018 • 12 noon - 5pm • ALL WELCOME

A long history of protest: Aberdeen student at Faslane, summer 1965
From The Sparrows' Nest, Nottingham
Document of the Month – Jul 2018 recently worked with various materials related to the 50th Anniversary of the 1968 Revolts, we were reminded that the pamphlet series published by Solidarity over many years deserves some more time in the spotlight. Volume 31, published in late 1969, reprinting a report on a strike at the General Motors works in Flint, Michigan. The author had been a Maoist, but Solidarity republished a slightly abridged version of the original report as it was such an excellent account of the events.

And there are new additions to the digital library.
The Long Affray in the Nineteenth-Century East Midlands

A talk by Rosemary Muge
 at the Sparrows' Nest Library and Archive (St Ann’s, Nottingham), 
Saturday 27th Oct. 2 p.m. 
Free event, venue wheelchair accessible, for directions please contact the Sparrows’ Nest.

The terms ‘Long Affray’ and ‘Poaching Wars’ have been coined by historians to refer to the conflicts between poachers, particularly gangs of night poachers, and the gamekeepers and watchers employed by landowners. The Game Laws have been acknowledged as class-based, even by historians who would be reluctant to accept such a description. The passing of the 1831 Game Reform Act made the conflict even more clearly one between working-class people and the landed gentry. In Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire, poaching was endemic. The talk focuses on the causes, patterns and effects of poaching in these counties.

Rosemary is a retired teacher (of Maths not History) who has recently completed a PhD in History at the University of Nottingham, after seven years of research and writing up. Previously she completed an MA on Crime and Policing at The Open University. Her interest in the subject area arose from living in East Anglia for many years, an area where poaching was endemic; and from teaching in prisons for seven years, which gave her an interest in crime and the people called ‘criminals’.

There will be tea. There might be biscuits. There won’t be pheasant.
Visit the Sparrows' Nest website

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Press Release: Conscientious Objectors Walk in Haringey


A walk to remember the men who said ‘no’ to fighting in the First World War 

 A walk from Finsbury Park to the Salisbury Hotel in Green Lanes, N4, tells the hidden stories of some of Haringey’s conscientious objectors who said no to war. The walk takes a route past houses where conscientious objectors lived, marks meeting places, and points out organisations actively opposed to war between 1914 and 1918.

All this is set out in a new booklet from Heritage Lottery funded project ‘Conscientious Objection Remembered’ which includes a map of the walk 
route as well as locations in Haringey which link to other aspects of Haringey’s First World War history.

Along the way you can find the Stroud Green house where the five Walker brothers lived, all at one time or another arrested, courtmartialled or given prison sentences, visit the hall where Sylvia Pankhurst spoke against conscription in February 1916 and reach the end of the walk at the Salisbury Hotel where protest meetings were held.

The walk covers about two miles in all, and transport links are close by.

The booklet, which is free, is available from local libraries in Haringey, from Hornsey 
Historical Society and is downloadable from the project website.

Visit the website for news of guided walks led by Haringey First World War Peace Forum in the autumn.

To find out more about Haringey’s COs and the project go to the Conscientious Objection Remembered website at:

 (Lottery funded)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Another new pamphlet from past tense: Alice Wheeldon

(Continuing their valuable series on the real First World War:)

We are pleased to announce... another new pamphlet from past tense...

Framed by spycops for resisting World War 1
In 1917, Derby socialists and war resisters Alice Wheeldon, her daughters Hettie, Winnie and Winnie’s husband, Alfred Mason, went on trial at the Old Bailey, all charged with conspiracy to murder the Liberal Prime Minister Lloyd George and cabinet minister Arthur Henderson. 

In fact the supposed ‘plot’ was a fit up, set up by a spy working for the intelligence unit of the Ministry of Munitions, effectively then run by a combination of Special Branch and what would become MI5. The aim was to attack and discredit the anti-war movement.

All proceeds from sales of this pamphlet after costs are covered will be donated to ongoing campaigns against our own modern spycops...

Price £1.50
Plus £1 for Postage & Packing

'Alice Wheeldon' can be ordered online from

Or by post from;
Past Tense, c/o 56a Infoshop, 56 Crampton Street, London SE17 3AE
(cheques payable to 'Past Tense publications')

It will also soon be available from London radical bookshops and distributors...

See also:

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

New pamphlet from past tense... a reprint of classic texts from the USA


Gentrification as Social Control in the USA

Urban decay and subsequent 'regeneration' have been deliberately used in the USA to disperse poor, mainly black communities, both to disrupt communal solidarity and subvert organised movements for social change,
and maximise private profit.

With the levels of gentrification and development many communities are currently facing in London, it is timely to reprint these classic accounts of how military and political powers, and business interests, devised 'Spatial Deconcentration' to maintain social control.

Price £2.00
Plus £2 for Postage & Packing

'Spatial Deconcentration' can be ordered online from

Or by post from
Past Tense, c/o 56a Infoshop, 56 Crampton Street, London SE17 3AE
(cheques payable to 'Past Tense publications'

It will also soon be available from London radical bookshops and distributors...


You may also like...
 this old Solidarity pamphlet [with thanks to libcom]...
Urban devastation: the planning of incarceration 
"A pamphlet penned by George Williamson under a pseudonym, analysing urban development in the background of capitalist society and class struggle. Published by Solidarity (Oxford) c1976, much of it is still relevant.
"This pamphlet describes and analyses “the breakdown of the fabric of present-day cities in the light of the development of capitalism from the 19th century till now”, and “looks at the economic influences, the crisis of authority, breakdown of social order and the conflict of class forces as they affect the structure of the urban community” (p.2).
"In line with this perspective, the pamphlet recognises the need “to look at how the form, function and living patterns of urban areas are changing, and at how they could change within the framework of libertarian ideas” (p.4) One of its themes is the examination of the role of architects, planners, and engineers in the planning process under the bureaucratised capitalism and social-democratic engineering of the present society, and the potential role such professionals might play in the development of egalitarian and liveable cities in which “the urban fabric must become the creation of the whole population” (p.22).
"Although written in the mid-1970s, and drawing its examples from the development of urban areas in Britain up to that time, the analysis reflects general trends of urban development elsewhere, trends continuing into the present day.
"Writing under the name of James Finlayson, the author of this pamphlet was George Williamson (1939-2007), political activist, architect by profession, and Solidarity member for many years.
"Finlayson’s general “framework of libertarian ideas” reflects the influence of Cornelius Castoriadis, many of whose writings were translated from the French by prominent Solidarity member, Chris Pallis (aka Maurice Brinton), and published as Solidarity pamphlets under the name of Paul Cardan."

Friday, June 29, 2018

Project: Recovering the regional radical press in Britain, 1968-1988

A project based in the Regional History Centre at UWE(University of the West of England) Bristol. [From Twitter via email notification]
From the Summer of Love through the Winter of Discontent to the rise of Thatcherism – these were heady days for radical community organisations and the news media that supported and connected them. Small, co-operatively produced local papers played an important role in radical politics in these critical decades, but few are now remembered and their history has been largely overlooked. Our project will rediscover these lost papers and reconnect with the people who produced them.
The best known radical papers were London based and enjoyed a national reach: Titles like International Times, Undercurrents, Peace News and the Leveller acted as a mouthpiece for countercultural opposition groups, broadly leftist in outlook but politically non-aligned. Some of these papers have been digitally archived; the complete run of International Times, for example – 1966-1978 – can be viewed on the International Times archive, and Peace News, which continues today in online form, maintains a digital archive from 2001 to the present.
What remains largely unrecorded is the regional and provincial network of local journalism that flourished in the same period. At its peak, some 79 publications of this kind were being produced, mostly by co-operatives of self-taught volunteers, writing, typing, designing and pasting up by hand and using new offset litho technology for printing.
Most appeared fortnightly, monthly or bi-monthly and were either sold in the street or in radical bookshops and one or two friendly newsagents. Most offered readers a mixture of local news from an independent perspective, campaign information, and an alternative ‘what’s on’ guide – a vital section in each edition since the grassroots press was often much more closely aligned with the local underground music and cultural scene than commercial newspapers and magazines.
Some titles broke stories that mainstream papers wouldn’t touch. Rochdale Alternative Paper, for example, printed allegations of sexual misconduct against city MP Cyril Smith in 1979, none of which would resurface in the commercial press until after Smith’s death in 2010. Brighton Voice campaigned effectively on housing issues and became a mouthpiece for the city’s squatting movement. Swansea’s Alarm, by far the most cheaply and roughly produced of the lot, garnered a reputation for exposing corruption on the city council and ran a slate of candidates for election in 1979. Working on papers like these was formative for some now very prominent writers and campaigners. Lynne Segal helped to found the Islington Gutter Press in the 1970s, for example.

None of these papers exist now and many may have disappeared forever. Some are preserved locally in hard copy. For example, Leeds Other Paper can be read in bound volumes in the city’s local studies library in a run spanning 1974-1994, and Bristol Voice in the central library at Bristol, but few papers like these will be found in the British Library’s newspaper collections. Some, like Brighton Voice, which has an informative Wikipedia page devoted to it, have left tangible traces, but few are so easy to track down now.
Today, as more and more news services switch to online platforms and readers expect content to be delivered for free, the future of newsprint publishing looks increasingly precarious. Whether radical self-help publishing will be forced to fight for attention on the internet or find the resources to reinvigorate the physical newspaper remains to be seen. Crowdfunding is one possibility; indeed it is being actively pursued at the moment here in the South West by a new generation of levellers.

The project

Recovering the Regional Radical Press in Britain, 1968-1988, is a project based in the Regional History Centre at UWE Bristol and is co-ordinated by Phil Chamberlain (Journalism) and Professor Steve Poole (History).
We have four main objectives:
  1. To identify and locate full runs of each paper.
  2. To identify and make contact with former members of regional radical paper production teams.
  3. To enable the production of new oral and archival histories of radical regional publishing in Britain.
  4. To make these papers publicly available again (through digitisation).
We are currently (2018-19) working on the first two of these objectives. And we’re going to need plenty of help!

How you can help

Please contact us if:
  1. You once worked on a paper like this.
  2. You know the whereabouts of any existing copies today.
  3. You have memories of buying and reading them.
The project can be contacted at

RaHN blogger adds:-
Just one example of the sort of thing they may be looking for, from Aberdeen Protest blog):

Aberdeen People’s Press (1973 – 1983)

The Press, ‘Scotland’s Socialist Community Printers’, was established as a non-profit making company in 1973 and ran until 1983. The Press produced the community newspaper ‘Aberdeen People’s Press’, was a commercial printing service for socialist and community groups and also published relevant works.
The newspaper ran to some 60 issues from 1973 until summer 1976, with a circulation of between 800 and 1700. Although billed as a local newspaper: its viewpoints, news and analysis were radical. There were in depth reports on criticising the effects of the oil & gas industry, military bases in the north-east, abortion providers in the north-east, health and safety in the oil & gas industry and councillor’s business interests etc. After the newspaper finished another similar publication called ‘Big Print’ was issued and it ran to some 21 issuesbetween 1978 and 1980. The Big Print termed itself ‘A local libertarian socialist newspaper’ and was more stridently political than its predecessor.
Although the newspaper was no longer published, the Press started to commission and publish books with more in–depth analysis. These are still excellent publications: ‘Oil Over Troubled Waters: a report and critique of oil developments in north-east Scotland’, ‘Aberdeen in the General Strike’, ‘Fascism in Aberdeen: street politics in the 1930s’ and ‘James Leatham (1865 – 1945)’.
The Press were initially housed at the Aberdeen Arts & Community Workshop, then at a house in Rubislaw Den South. In 1976 though the Press moved into the basement of 163 King Street, and shared the space with the Workers’ Educational Association, and shops on the ground level: a wholefood shop (Ambrosia Wholefoods/Cairnleith Croft) and a bookshop (Boomtown Books).

References: see below. Also, Scottish Community Newspapers (Brian Murphy and Alan Marshall, Aberdeen People’s Press, 1978).
Sources: papers held at University of Aberdeen Library as well as a near complete set of the published newspapers. Also representative works from their own library including hundreds of publications from across the UK and a number from overseas. The publications date from the 1960s through to the 1980s and represent a variety of socialist, anarchist, ecologist, anti-capitalist and feminist groups.

  1. Aberdeen Arts and Community Workshop was not based in Powis house, but in a ground floor Powis flat given rent free by the council to a small group of activists who had been involved in the Holland Street/Hutchison Street tenants group and rent strike. For three years it ran a summer playscheme for local kids, offered housing advice, and ran an active claimants union all funded by donations from charitable trusts. Six of the latter claimants group were arrested on breach of the peace charges for washing the walls of the DHSS office’s waiting room after a fruitless months’ long campaign to have it cleaned up. The workshop eventually was granted Urban Aid and was handed over to members of the Powis community.
    Aberdeen Solidarity mutated into a left-communist group called Revolutionary Perspectives in the early 70’s, becoming the Communist Workers Organisation in 1975 when it fused with a Liverpool group called Workers Voice.
  2. Great thanks for the extra information.