Monday, January 27, 2014

LONDON rWW1 GROUP Meeting, January 2014

Summary of report from 16-1-14.

Minutes of the previous meeting were read.

National Meeting for groups and individuals involved/interested in opposing WW1 ‘celebrations’
Originally suggested this be held in May. Agreed to approach other groups about their interest in such a meeting; we can host it in London but it might be better to suggest/ask if anyone else is interested in hosting it.
It was suggested we could try and get some big speakers, and maybe have an action, re-enactment or some such to make it more than just talk?

Benefit [gig] –those involved in the band and contacting venues will get on with it.

New Blog

We have a Blog set up, at [which includes an extensive reading list under various headings related to alternative takes on the history of the war.] Contributions welcome:
articles, posts, news, etc can be sent to our new email address for this (London) group,; all correspondence for the London group can now also be sent here.
(Bristol Remembering the Real World War 1 have also set up a blog:


A general introductory leaflet to explain what we are/do/think is to be drafted.

Images for propaganda, stickers, posters, etc.

More work needs doing on ideas for a group logo based around [subverting] the traditional
poppy emblem, and further suggestions are being considered.

We also thought it’d be good to print some stickers with simple slogans (just text), including quotations
from ex-WW1 servicemen. Some of these included:
“The First World War was Idiotic” (Alfred Finnegan)
“It was such a complete waste of lives.” (George Charles)
“The Great War was a lot of bloody political bull.”
“War is nothing better than legalized mass murder.” (Harry Patch)
“11 November is just show business. Armistice Day is nothing but a show of
military forces.” (Harry Patch)

(All the speakers being ex-WW1 veterans).
Proposed points we could be planning actions around

1. Xmas football match: [some kind of international anti-war match]. The official match (with premiership involvement) is a week before Xmas. Any alternative spectacle around it might get some publicity.

It was suggested we could do something in London ... What was people’s reaction here in 1914 when the Xmas truce was on? Unusually news of it wasn’t censored (they hadn’t quite got their act together on censorship). We do need to subvert the non-political message, the idea it was an isolated incident, with no implications.

2. Cenotaph November 2014: This is going to be one of the most high profile official events …
Alternatively, there was mention of an original Cenotaph in East London, which was part of the earliest plans for commemorating Armistice Day, that came from grassroots, and was then co-opted by government. Or is there another alternative venue?

East London Suffragette Festival: Some people are putting on an event in August 2014 to remember the East London Federation of Suffragettes [centenary
], one of the most prominent groups to oppose the war (amongst much other ground-breaking activity). This is an event we’d definitely want to support...

Our working capital increased slightly after a collection.

Meetings of this group are held regularly on the third Thursday of each month, so the next is
Thurs 20th February
Time… 7.30 p.m.

At:       88 Fleet St, London EC4Y 1DH (entrance is in St Bride’s Avenue).

Friday, January 17, 2014

Neither Gove, nor Robinson, but Skiving and Shirking

By a member of the Remembering the Real World War 1 group (London).

Recently we’ve been treated to a public spat between education secretary 
Michael Gove and Sir Tony ‘Baldrick’ Robinson, about whether the glorious history of ‘our boys’ and their noble sacrifice during World War 1 was being undermined by ‘leftwing teachers and historians’ using Blackadder Goes Fourth, and anti-war spoofs such as the musical Oh What a Lovely War, as examples of WW1 history.

Mr Gove told the Daily Hate Mail, that people's understanding of the war had been overlaid by "misrepresentations" which at worst reflected "an unhappy compulsion on the part of some to denigrate virtues such as patriotism, honour and courage. The conflict has, for many, been seen through the fictional prism of dramas such as Oh, What a Lovely War!, The Monocled Mutineer and Blackadder, as a misbegotten shambles - a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite.
"Even to this day there are left-wing academics all too happy to feed those myths."

Tony Robinson, who since Baldrick hung up his turnips, has enjoyed a good living making history on TV duller, hit back, claiming Gove was just having a go at teachers.…As a leading member of the Labour party, Robinson will also no doubt exhort us to remember the patriotic, honourable, and courageous WW1.

For those of us who choose to dig a bit deeper, who celebrate the mutineers, deserters, the shirkers, draft-dodgers and objectors, the networks of resistance who hid them, the strikers and food rioters, and all the men and women who spoke out against the first world war,  we also remember Labour’s part in sending many off to die, in supporting the war effort (with some honourable exceptions). Squeaky Gove and Cunning Tony are two sides to the same coin, really.

The truth is, that the shirking, skiving, squaddie and the incompetent top brass, portrayed in Blackadder, merely skimmed the surface of a host of hidden histories of the trenches. The Xmas truce of 1914, when soldiers of both sides fraternized, played football, in their thousands, in defiance of the spirit of hostility encouraged by the army hierarchy, is a story that has been oft-repeated, since it was too big to cover up. But it has been portrayed as an isolated event.

What has been covered up, is the more complex truth of covert and unspoken co-operation, in many areas of the frontlines, in an attempt to survive, resisting the official pressure for offensive actions, and only fighting when pushed to it.

Some of this story is told in an article from our friends in Bristol Radical History Group. 

Pamphlet available at Sparrows' Nest

Next Independent Working Class Education meeting

"Supported by Labour Heritage"

To book a place, please contact: Keith Venables:

Provisional Programme:

The IWCE Manifesto: developing the ideas (look on our Website for the draft)

Adam Kossoff on Rudolph Rocker; Steve Woodhams on Raymond Williams;

Updates from Louise Raw and Norman Biddlecombe.

Saturday 1st February 2014

Brunswick Centre (Foundling Court),

Community Room 10,

next to Russell Square tube.

10.30 - 4pm


£6.00. Lunch included, pay on the day.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Radio documentary "Do You Remember?" [..the 1980s]

- by Olivia Lemmens, Belgium, 2013 [48mins]

In 2012 Olivia Lemmens and David Vercauteren met to interview [a number of activists] for research which they led about the social and political struggles in the United Kingdom since the coming of Thatcher to power until the present day.

Of these meetings and interviews was born a first radio documentary [about the 1980s]. The
second is on the way.

Here is a link which should lead directly to the possibility of downloading the radio documentary that was realized further to their stay in the UK between March and June 2012: -

Do You Remember?
A sound documentary realized by Olivia Lemmens, Belgium, 48'
A sound documentary about the social and political struggles in England during the 80's. Some people speak about resistance, about solidarity, about community. Others speak about defeat. Others know only a little thing. How to keep alive past memories ?

Contacts for distribution of this documentary would be welcome.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

London Remembering the Real World War 1 group

notes from meeting held on 12/12/13 (slightly edited for blog)

Upcoming events

Some kind of national planning meeting, gathering together radical history groups and others, interested in planning oppositional histories and events around WW1 anniversaries. May 2014 was thought to be a good month.

Beyond that, a wide educational conference might be good, more of an open event, with speakers etc.…
Benefit: A band that we are in touch with are happy to play a benefit in late February. Other acts that might be interested would be good..

Future Meetings of this group

We agreed to meet regularly, on the third Thursday of each month, so:

Thurs 16th January
Thurs 20th February
Thurs 20th March
and so on

at 7.30, at 88 Fleet St, London EC4Y 1DH
(entrance in St Bride’s Avenue).


Remembering the Real World War One’


Some designs for stickers and posters were looked over...
A design for a sticker we liked the idea of was a black poppy with a red centre.

(If anyone comes across/knows of good and usable designs for anti-WW1 publicity, or is/has contact with an artist who could produce such, please get in touch with us).…

Slogans discussed for stickers/posters:
• ‘No War but the Class War’
• ‘Workers stopped WW1’
• ‘We Stopped the War’
• ‘Resistance Stopped WW1’.
• ‘1914-2014 – 100 years of resistance to war.’
• ‘Class War – the War to End all Wars.’

More ideas that evoke the spirit of desertion - one ~yr typist came up with later was something like:
‘Mutiny, Desertion, Refusal: The real WW1 Spirit!’

We could also subvert official WW1 posters from the time, or those that the govt sponsor now.…


We agreed to set up a Wordpress blog, which will allow us to have multiple administrators later.

The home page could also be translated into other languages.

Mainstream events and our response to them

The big events that the official national commemorations will focus around, will be
• the outbreak of war
• the battle of the Somme (beginning 1916)
• the 1918 armistice

So it would be good to organize some subversive response to them.
Hundreds of local events will also be put on, many of which would also be worth some counter-blasts. For instance, Imperial War Museum North is planning a Closer Look at the Xmas 1914 truce’.

But we should also make a list of events they will IGNORE, and that we should raise.

Actions and activities

Events, struggles and questions we Want to Commemorate -

• The run-up to war, the peace movement…
• The outbreak of War
• Jingoism and xenophobia: attacks on foreigners in the UK
• Conscription, and resistance to it
• The Russian Revolution 1917
• The first International Women’s Day
• The mutinies, all of them, but especially the ones that helped to end the war in 1918.
• Strikes and bread and butter struggles during WW1
• The 1918 police strike
• The demob riots 1919

It would be especially good to celebrate the events that transcend the national, chauvinistic focus the authorities are emphasizing, that elaborate on more than just life on the western front; and also to make
contact with younger people... An important link is between resistance to WW1 and current opposition to war, and to the ongoing attempt to integrate armed forces into all walks of life - seriously, TV especially has increasing programs normalizing army, etc, but also all the supporting our boys campaigns, press etc. There’s definitely an ideological drive to recapture what they look back and nostalge for, this  covenant of armed forces and the nation. Part of what we should be doing is pointing out that this past is much more ambiguous than they would like people to think, especially in the first world war period.
In terms of getting in touch with younger folk, an info pack for schools, and talking to history teachers, were ideas that came up.

General introductory leaflet

We agreed the need for a short introductory leaflet to announce our existence and position

Miscellaneous ideas

We had a discussion on celebrities: some folk suggested names of famous people who might be sympathetic to what we are proposing to do... Some of these have either written books or poems etc. which touch on WW1.
General feeling seemed to be that we should not tailor what we are doing to recruiting them, but do what we do and make them aware of it, and let them come if they are interested. One way of this might be
critical reviews of their books on blog etc.

Tours of WW1 sites of executions, mutinies etc.

Some people are interested in setting up some tours to visit sites, e.g. Etaples, Ypres, Calais, Wilhelmshaven. Would be good points to meet up with international comrades.…

To be discussed further. A collection was taken, for a start.

Previous meeting report and further details here.

Update on contact with the group:

Direct email:

And a 'remembering the real WW1' blog has been set up for Bristol (and the SW)... at
Pictue sent from Australia, taken on 8-9-2012

Report of last RaHN meeting, 13th November 2013

Radical History Network of N.E. London (slightly edited for blog)

RaHN activities:

- A brief history of RaHN was given for the benefit of the new faces present [early years].
- We then looked at and approved the notes from the last meeting, including the detailed write up of the RaHN discussion about community action for north east London's green spaces.
- We noted the advanced plans for a new booklet on the radical history of campaigning to protect and improve local green spaces.

- An updated version of the 'McLibel: DIY Justice' pamphlet was circulated ['McWorld On Trial' - by Helen Steel and Dave Morris (the 'McLibel' defendants): The inside story of the inspirational global campaign against McDonald's 1985-2005, including the titanic legal battle during the longest trial in English history.]. It describes the inside story of the successful legal and publicity battle against McDonald's 1985-2005, is now available to be distributed by RaHN and can be viewed [here].

- Alan Woodward's archive: RaHN members present agreed to a proposal that the bulk of Alan's documents go to the Bishopsgate Institute for archiving and public display. This would be for at least 10 years, in lieu of a suitable venue being found for them in Haringey. Alan was a founder and a co-convenor of the RaHN.
- There was a report on the Anarchist Bookfair. Up to 4,000 people attended. Alex helped coordinate a History Zone for the first time at this event, in its 30th year - this zone included an exhibition of radical art, and discussions about WW1 mutinies, the Solidarnosc union movement in Poland, anarchist movement activities in London in the 1960s, and London's Hospital Occupations over the last 40 years. RaHN did a stall, which had a wide range of cheap or free RaHN pamphlets and leaflets and was pretty busy all day.
- RaHN blog/website: [continuing].
- Future meetings: We discussed what subjects people would like to discuss and debate in the coming 12 months. It was agreed that the next meeting would be about 'Radical Youth Movements', with the following other subjects suggested - Political Policing; Decent Homes For All; 1983/4 Miners Strike; Radical Childcare; Resistance to World War 1.

The main subject of discussion and debate was:
North East London's Waterways

- A people’s history of campaigning for access to drinking water, recreation water and navigation systems

Summary: Now available: RaHN on Waterways, a 2-page leaflet.

- The New River is neither new or a river, but is an artificial fresh water course built in the 17th Century to get water for drinking etc. into London from Hertfordshire.
- There had been riots and protests in the 16th Century over water shortages, and over 'theft' of water supplies.
- The New River Company (NRC) was financed by private entrepreneurs who wanted to make money out of Londoners' needs for fresh water - at the time people had to get it from rivers and wells. By 1638 the NRC supplied 10% of London homes. Other companies were also set up to compete, using other sources of supplies. Eventually the NRC became one of the 3 richest companies in the UK. The NRC was an early pioneer of capitalism, industrialisation and the privatisation of formerly public resources.
- Demand (including for drinking, washing, industry and sewers) outstripped supply as London grew.
- Conduits were set up in 'the city' for water distribution, with apprentices hired to collect and distribute. They were an independent and radical lot, and often seen as defenders of public rights. There were protests over ensuring adequate water levels in these conduits and public access to the water.
- Laws were passed to try to keep water purity. The idea persisted among the public that all supplies should be free and for all to use. People accessed the NR along its route, defying laws against this and even a specially-created NRC police force. Some were jailed. Continuous public pressure eventually led to the establishment of public baths and laundries everywhere.
- The London County Council was established in 1889 and bought out the NRC in 1903 to turn the New River into a public resource. Unfortunately it is now run by Thames Water after the UK Government's 1989 Water Act allowed the sell-off of many parts of the UK's water supplies to the private sector.
- However, thanks to all the public pressure, campaigns and direct action to access fresh water over the last 400 years, people still feel that the water supplies belong to all. But this will have to continue to be fought for, here and all over the world, as private companies only care about the profits they can make from our basic needs.

- Walthamstow marshes is part of the Lea Valley - see [See below for some general background details about the Lea Valley as a whole].**
- Not a lot of the natural marshes are left.
- Originally there was a 'lamas' rotation grazing system. Local people tended to rely on grazing rights.
- Rich people bought up the rights to take and sell produce, e.g. the valuable hay crop.
- The developing navigation systems didn't affect the marshes as much as the growth of the railways did as they cut off access from communities.
- Water in the Lea reservoirs supplies a sixth of London's water. It is said that the Lea reservoirs are one of the 2 main human-made objects that can be seen from space (along with the Great Wall of China).
- Original medieval uses of the river included fish, mills (corn and beer etc), willows, water cress etc.
- The Lea was shallow and shifting so pack horses tended to be used rather than boats.
- In 1423 laws were enacted to protect water levels. In 1613 a drinking water system was agreed by Parliament (much still in place).
- Mid-1800s saw the spread of fencing off of whole areas, some Lamas rights removed and marshes fragmented. Walthamstow Commoners (many were wealthy cattle owners though) elected committee to meet up with landowners at the Ferry Boat Inn pub to demand compensation. Millers and bargees often had disputes over navigation options and changes.
- Gradually people were thrown off the land throughout the industrial revolution. Many workers employed tended to be nomadic (Gypsies and Irish).
- Marshes developed more for recreation (e.g. Tottenham and Hackney marshes for football pitches), and much of the land was sold off for housing.
- Profit and greed may have triumphed but people have always wanted access to the marshes.
- Users and campaign groups continue to speak out. There was a week-long tent occupation to try to halt a temporary Olympic facility being constructed which has damaged the spot. Recently the groups have formed a new 'Across The Marshes' network. The Save Lea Marshes group campaigns for Leyton Marsh to be fully restored; for the reinstatement of East Marsh as a green open space; to Keep Hackney and Walthamstow Marshes free from enclosed commercial purposes that damage the land and prevent free open access for people to enjoy; to keep a watching brief and actively lobby against all possible threats to the current land designation as Metropolitan Open Space and particularly the local listed Sites of Scientific and Special Interest (SSSIs).

The valley of the River Lea has been used as a transport corridor, a source of sand and gravel, an industrial area, a water supply for London, and a recreational area. The upper section of the valley is mainly rural, becoming a wide floodplain, and then an increasingly urban transport corridor as it enters London via Enfield Lock, Brimsdown, Ponders End, Edmonton, Tottenham, Tottenham Hale, Clapton, Lea Bridge, Leyton, Hackney Wick, Old Ford, Bow, Stratford, West Ham, Bromley, Canning Town and Leamouth. The river was crossed at several points by fords or ferries, which were eventually replaced by bridges e.g. at Stratford a stone causeway on the Roman road to Colchester was supplemented by bridge in 1100. In 1745 the valley was crossed at Clapton by Lea Bridge.

The valley became very important for London's water supply, as the source of the water transported by the New River aqueduct, but also as the location for the Lee Valley Reservoir Chain, stretching from Enfield through Tottenham and Walthamstow. Much early industrialisation was a result of the availability of water power for numerous mills. In the 20th century the combination of transport, wide expanses of flat land and electricity from riverside and canal-side plants led to expansion of industries. Much industry has now gone, replaced by warehousing and retail parks.

North of Cheshunt the Lea Valley, particularly around Nazeing, is associated with market gardening, nurseries and garden centres. The industry once dominated the area from Ponders End, north through Enfield Lock, Waltham Cross and Cheshunt. In the 1930s the valley contained the largest concentration of greenhouses in the world. In 1948 a commentator described how glasshouses, originally established on the 'warm brickearth soils' of Tottenham and Edmonton in the 1880s, had been progressively driven north into the often poorer soils further north by the growth of London. Today, in most parts south of Cheshunt greenhouses have been replaced by residential areas.

Today Lee Valley Park occupies large areas of the valley. An extensive area of open land, built up using rubble from the Blitz, is Hackney Marshes. By contrast, Walthamstow Marshes is retained as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

- Canal boat owners pay licenses ('MOTs') to British Waterways.
- Have been lots of disputes over access to moorings (official and unofficial sites).
- London Boaters - - formed in 2008 to defend boat-dwellers' existence and 250yr old way of life. Has 200-400 members and produce a newsletter. Their position is: "The boating community is diverse and vibrant with a vast range of unique skills and knowledge. Recognising this potential, London Boaters initially arranged social events and boat based training sessions to harness this knowledge and unite the community. The London Boaters community has been strengthened by a recent British Waterways mooring proposal that threatens the community’s existence. London Boaters has grown in terms of numbers, dedication and community collaboration since the announcement of the proposal. This website aims to act as a community resource for boaters from all sides of the canal towpath to protect the life we love."
- There is a great unregulated tradition of moorings and nomadism. There used to be boaters' pubs and schools.
- Many moorings are occupied/squatted unofficially (not illegal).
- In 1980s the British Waterways charity was buying up river beds and some tow paths aiming for their privatisation. Campaigns successfully defended boaters' rights, and 1995 Act was passed to safeguard this. But some tow paths charge fees as they are no longer common land.
- 7,000 boaters nationally have no moorings. Now a National Boaters and Bargees Travellers Association is forming.
- The relevant authorities often fail to properly maintain facilities for boaters, e.g..drinking water taps.
- During Olympics many boaters were outrageously corralled as 'threat to national security'.

- Friends of Lordship Rec had successfully campaigned for the recent restoration of the River Moselle in Tottenham, and Friends Groups in Haringey collaborated to produce a walk guide celebrating the borough-wide but mostly underground river. There is now pressure on the Council and Thames Water to improve water quality - they and Councils throughout London need to be pressurised to deal with the water pollution in all London's rivers caused by sewer misconnections from domestic, public and commercial buildings.
- The former Lebus furniture factory on the Lea at Tottenham Hale was the largest in Europe and used the river for transport
- Campaigns for access to water and waterways mirror similar struggles over green spaces
- There's a myth that 'common land' meant and still means guaranteed free access or use by all - in reality it was generally owned by 'middle-men' with their own rights and agendas. So we still have to claim and fight for 'ownership' and protect it from development etc.
- Its generally public pressure/protest/direct action, not 'rights', which protect the public interest effectively in the long term. All the spaces, resources and services we value are under constant threat of privatisation or closure, so we need to continue the fight.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Next RaHN Public Meeting 12th February

Jazz agers, beatniks, mods & rockers, hippies, punks, ravers, riot girrls, revolting students, 2011 rioters and other youth-influenced movements here and abroad - what did they do to challenge the establishment and to put forward alternatives, and what can we learn from them today?
Wednesday February 12th
7.30pm, Wood Green Social Club
3 Stuart Crescent, N22 5NJ (off the High Rd, near Wood Green tube).
All welcome to come and share experiences, anecdotes, photos, archive material and general thoughts...

Note: Future discussions proposed include:
* Political policing and surveillance, and resistance to it.
* The 1983-4 miners’ strike - 30 years on
* Decent homes for all
* Radical childcare
* Resistance to World War One

[Report of previous meeting to follow]

Update: Some related information (from Hackney)

A Critical Look At Anarchopunk:ý

(a collection of writing by other people about the pros and cons of the
anarchist punk movement in the 1980s)

Shaking The Foundations: Reggae soundsystem meets ‘Big Ben British values’

(on the friction between afro-caribbean youth culture and national identity)

Also, some new bits on the Radical History of Hackney site:

Film about Stoke Newington's Irish Womens Centre showing at The Rio in Feb.

Police Out of School: Hackney NUT, 1985 (document demanding cops be
excluded from schools):

Hackney Action - a radical newspaper in the early 1970s:

Resistance to corporal punishment in 1904:

Peace News / Housmans event, 17/01/2014

‘To End All Wars’ with Adam Hochschild 17/01/2014 Friends House, Euston

Renowned US author Adam Hochschild (King Leopold’s Ghost, Bury the Chains) talks about his recent book ‘To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914 – 1918 – the only recent history of WW1 to foreground the anti-war movement.

Joint event with QPSW. 7pm, Friday 17 January, Friends House, 173 – 177 Euston Road, NW1 (opp. Euston station). Free entrance.

This event will also be the launch for PN’s new First World War project: a visual celebration of the people and movements that opposed the First World War, largely inspired by Adam’s book

Over the last three decades American writer and activist Adam Hochschild has produced a series of remarkable books on topics including: rubber slavery in the Congo (King Leopold’s Ghost); Stalinist Russia (The Unquiet Ghost); and the British anti-slavery movement (Bury the Chains).

His most recent book ‘To End All Wars: A Story of the Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914 – 1918 – winner of the 2012 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and finalist for the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award – is a unique history of the First World War, featuring a ‘cast of characters … more revealing than any but the greatest novelists could invent’, including ‘generals, trade unionists, feminists, agents provocateurs, a writer turned propagandist, a lion tamer turned revolutionary, a cabinet minister, a crusading working-class journalist, three soldiers brought before a firing squad at dawn, and a young idealist from the Midlands who, long after his struggle against the war was over, would be murdered by the Soviet secret police.’

Featuring the well-known (Bertrand Russell, Rudyard Kipling) and the little-known (Violet Tillard, John S. Clarke), the war’s opponents (Emily’s Hobhouse, Charlotte Despard) and its staunchest advocates (Sir Alfred Milner, John Buchan), this is a story of a story of police raids and buried documents, of the gleeful, even mischievous, appropriation of a pompous prosecutor’s words to be used as anti-war propaganda, and of a Commander-in-Chief (John French, 1st Earl of Ypres) whose sister (Charlotte Despard) was a defiant revolutionary and co-founder of the Women’s Peace Crusade.

Join us on 17 January for a rare opportunity to see Mother Jones’ co-founder Adam Hochschild here in the UK.


Thursday, January 2, 2014


Patron: Peter Hennessy

Founded in 1996, the Club challenges the commercialisation and isolation of modern society. We meet monthly on a Saturday evening.

‘Fellowship is life and the lack of fellowship is death.’
William Morris
Venue Epicentre, West Street, Leytonstone E11 4LJ


7.30 Buffet (please bring something if you can)

8.00 Talk & discussion, followed by social ending

Travel and Access Stratford stations & 257 bus

Leytonstone tube (exit left) & 257 or W14 bus

Overground: Leytonstone High Road, turn right, short walk

Disabled access, car park, bikes can be brought in, quiet children welcome. You can phone to confirm the talk will be as shown. Open to all, just turn up.

Free entry. Voluntary donations invited.
Enquiries 0208 555 5248 or 07443 480 509

‘The club is a real beacon of light’. Peter Cormack

Saturday 11th January 2014

A History of Working Men’s Clubs: London & Beyond  

Speaker: Dr Ruth Cherrington  Poster

Working men’s clubs have been a neglected area of working class leisure, yet they were often at the heart of working class communities. This talk introduces the development of clubs from their mid-19th century origins to their current period of decline. Why they were set up, what went on in them & who used them are key questions considered. The major roles they played in local communities will be looked at & how women found their own space in clubs. Common features of clubs across the country & the influence of the Working Men’s Club & Institute Union will be outlined.  Signed copies of Ruth’s book., ‘Not Just Beer & Bingo: A Social History of Working Men’s Clubs’ will be on sale tonight, or available from Amazon or local bookshops.

Saturday 8th February 2014

Surviving Auschwitz

Speaker: Anita Lasker Wallfish

Anita Lasker Wallfisch was born in Breslau (now Wroclaw), the youngest of three sisters. Her parents were deported in 1942. Arrested & sent to prison that year, she was sentenced for 'Forgery, Attempted Escape & Helping the Enemy’ & sent to Auschwitz/ Birkenau in 1943 where she became the only cellist in the Women's Orchestra. Transported to Bergen Belsen November 1944 & liberated by the British Army on 15th April 1945, she has lived in England since 1946, becoming a founder member of the English Chamber Orchestra with which she still plays today. She has written a book about her experiences, ‘Inherit the Truth,' published by Giles de la Mare.

Saturday 8th March 2014

Little Comrades: A Secular

Sunday School   Speaker: Roger Huddle

Roger, a lifelong socialist, born & bred in Walthamstow, is a writer & local historian. During the 1889 dock strike, Mary Gray, a local member of the Social Democratic Federation, began a soup kitchen & school at her home for children of the strikers. Shocked at the lack of knowledge of their own history, in 1892 she began the Socialist Sunday School. It became a national movement. In various forms & different levels of secularism, socialism & religion, it continued till World War Two (& longer in Scotland). This talk takes a close look at the one which began in Walthamstow in 1903 & flourished for 30 years, with up to 300 children attending regularly.

Saturday 12th April 2014

'Plebs': The Ruskin College 'strike' of 1909  Speaker: Colin Waugh

Colin, author of the pamphlet 'Plebs': The Lost Legacy of Independent Working-Class Education, will explain how trade unionists, mainly miners & railway-workers who were students at Ruskin College, Oxford in 1909, went on 'strike' (actually a boycott of specific lectures & lecturers) in an attempt to prevent the principal from being sacked, in the process creating a national system of socialist adult education genuinely independent of the powers-that-be, parts of which survived until the 1960s. He will say why he thinks there is an urgent need to rebuild this tradition today, & talk about some of the efforts that are being made to do this.

Saturday 10th May 2014 

Our Urban Green Spaces: How Communities Have Mobilised To Protect and Improve Them

Speakers: Dave Morris & Michelle Lawson
Dave Morris, a member of the Friends of Lordship Rec in Tottenham & chair of London Green Spaces Friends Groups Network., is a long-term campaigner for the development of Friends groups for all Haringey green spaces. Michelle, also a Friends of Lordship Rec member & a south London parks gardener, is co-ordinating the production of a parks booklet on community empowerment in Haringey parks.

Saturday 14th June 2014

Stars and Songs of the Music Halls

Speaker: John Whitehorn

John worked in music publishing for 36 years & was music librarian for the EMI group of publishers & Warner Chappell. One of his interests is social history. Music Hall’s Golden Age was about 1880 until World War 1; songs of the period were cameos of life at the time. Many subjects were covered: childhood, courtship, fashion, food & drink, immigration, leisure, marital strife, politics, poverty, transport. He will give a history of the origins of Music Hall with filmed song performances, including some by original performers.

Saturday 12th July 2014

The Dragon and the Eagle: Telling the Story of Welsh Emigration to America in a New Way 

Speaker: Colin Thomas

The first emigrants from Wales to America came in order to escape religious & political persecution. Later Welsh emigrants arrived in search of work, coalminers & steelworkers bringing their skills as America rapidly industrialised. Both groups had to cope with the dilemma faced by all migrants: how to become good citizens of their new country whilst holding on to the language, values & culture of the country they left behind.  Colin is about to publish an enhanced ebook on this subject. His talk will include extracts from its video content narrated by Cerys Matthews

Saturday 9th August 2014

‘Little Germany’: Stratford East London 1914 - Eastside Community Heritage Speaker: Judith Garfield

German immigrants composed the second largest European immigrant community in Britain from 1861-1911, only behind in numbers to the Russian Jews. From 28,000 in 1861 to 50,000 by 1914, they were known as the new foreigners.   The unemployed labourers moved to east London to find work & were the largest German community in London. Germanophobia became intense after the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915, leading to riots. Internment camps were set up on the now Olympic Site. The project has explored stories & family folklore from the descendants of Germans still living in east London, focusing on the impact of the Great War.

Saturday 13th September 2014

Journey to Justice Speaker: Carrie Supple

Working with educators, youth groups, community, human rights & faith groups, historians, artists, curators, students & politicians, Carrie is creating a travelling exhibition telling the story of the US civil rights movement, showing how it affected people here & elsewhere at the time & to this day. It will make connections to local campaigns for freedom & rights, e.g. Peasants’ Revolt (East Anglia); Suffragettes (Manchester); trade unions (North East) & civil rights (Northern Ireland). Accompanied by education, arts & intergenerational activities, it will show how change can happen involving ‘people like us’ & encourage visitors to join justice campaigns.

Saturday 11th October 2014

Experiments in Household Knowledge Speaker: Andreas Lang 

This is a series of collaborations with east London ecological & environmental innovators. The year-long project explored & showcased unusual & inventive ways of making & experimenting: from new gardening techniques to alternative forms of energy production or innovative recycling methods, sharing, collaborating & making public a range of unique & often self taught skills through walks, talks & hands on workshops which took place across east London in numerous locations, often accompanied by a re-purposed milk float turned mobile project space: Wick on Wheels. 

Saturday 8th November 2014

How Do Peace & Socialism intersect? Lessons from Past

and Present  Speaker: Dr Kate Hudson

Kate, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, has held that post since 2010, having previously been Chair of the campaign since 2003. A leading anti-nuclear & anti-war campaigner nationally & internationally, she is the author of 'CND Now More Than Ever: The Story of a Peace Movement'.

Saturday 13th December 2014

Local Textile Arts Speaker: Celia Ward

East London Textile Arts, founded in Newham in 2007, works with community groups from various ethnic & faith backgrounds to create textile hangings & other pieces for exhibitions & to decorate public buildings. ‘I set the organisation up with a

community worker who knew that there were many unemployed women, skilled in textiles, from all parts of the world, not using their skills.’ The project runs five days a week, serving 150 people from different east London boroughs. Celia came to this work as a watercolourist, having had solo exhibitions in West End galleries, Luxembourg & Romania. From 2002 – 2005 she lived in Bucharest, set up an arts centre to be run by young artists & worked with carpet workers, taking wool to remote villages.