Hackney Action (1972) – a community newspaper

Hackney Action was founded in June 1972 by Centerprise, who aimed to “promote a people’s paper. One that will reflect the feelings and attitudes of the people in the borough of Hackney.”

To me, it seems more community-minded and less overtly “militant” that the Hackney People’s Paper which had been published the previous year.

There were five issues of Hackney Action. The two I have (courtesy of Charles Foster) are tabloid six-pagers:

(click on the images below for larger versions)

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Issue 2’s front page features the beginning of lengthy article by Centerprise’s Ken Worpole debunking the council’s “Hackney Cares” slogan.

“What is happening in East Bank” looks at the proposal to make the street in Stamford Hill a “general improvement area”. There’s a handy guide to the pros and cons for tenants and property owners:

Also……..

  • “How I started a playgroup” by Barbara Berks
  • Demand for a public enquiry into a recent death from pneumonia and hypothermia at  childrens’ home “The Beeches”.
  • Green Lanes Tenants Association
  • Contacts/Ads (Centerprise, Legal Aid, Off Centre – a consultation service for young people, MP surgeries, Hackney Claimants Union, Hackney Multiple Sclerosis Society, Half Moon Gallery exhibition)
  • An in-jokey “fable” which might be a dig at some local characters.

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Page 5 (above) is particularly good:

Daphne Morgan on Hackney Committee Against Racialism: “formed in March 1970 when Enoch (Rivers of Blood) Powell was making racialism respectable and threatening the whiter-than-whites with a rising tide of black babies”. Their activities thus far included producing leaflets, having a presence and banner at various demos – including a picket of a meeting of the far right Monday Club in Islington, and quizzing local election candidates (“none of the Tories replied”).

After the election, the group focused on lobbying the council about improving conditions on “ghetto estates” and challenging institutional racism: “We have still had no satisfaction on the question of discrimination in housing. No official or councillor has been been able to explain why so many immigrant families end up in the worst and oldest estates, whereas more modern ones such as George Downing are almost pure white.”

An article on the Hackney Playmobile (still running in 2014 as the Hackney Playbus!) by Pauline Weinstein. She places the playmobile as part of a wider upsurge in working class communities organising or demanding facilities for children after a freeze in nursery places by the government in 1960.

Pauline has reflected recently on the playbus, the importance of archives (hear hear!) and her life in this article for the Planned Environment Therapy Trust. She is now involved with the Working Lives of Older People archive.

The back page of this issue is an article about Theatre Workshop at the Theatre Royal in Stratford E15, emphasising its links with the community and funding problems.

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Issue 3 came out after a respectable three months gap in October 1972. The lead article is about a rent increase for council tenants of 90p, which will have many of our readers choking on their cornflakes in amazement – but that is about £11 in today’s money. The article names and shames councillors who voted for implementing the rise (31) and those who voted against (27). It also mentions a proposed two week rent strike.

This theme continues on Page 2 with an article by Bob Darke, Secretary of Hackney United Tenants Federation entitled “Fight The Tory Rent Bill – It’s a class act directed against one section of the community – the working class”.

A previous entry on this website covers Darke’s involvement in and rejection of the Communist Party in Hackney in the 1950s. I was pleased to see he was still active in the 1970s.

Also this issue:

  • Poems by black youth Vivian Usherwood
  • Education in Hackney by Ruth Silver (against school closures and selective entry).
  • Two cheap recipes, including “Mackerel egg and sweetcorn pie for five” (a precursor to “A Girl Called Jack” perhaps?)
  • Hackney Trade Council Action Committee: against entry into the Common Market (“a new way of organising Europe in the interests of the Boss Class”), opposing the Industrial Relations Act, campaigning to make “Hackney a better, cleaner, healthier and more beautiful place to live and work in”
  • A back page feature on the Geffrye Museum by its curator Jeffrey Daniels

Page 4 of this issue is given over to notices and contact details (click on the image for a larger version. And apologies for there being a bit chopped off, an inevitable result of some covert scanning at someone’s workplace):

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According to the Hackney Archives (who have copies on microfilm), Hackney Action transformed into Hackney Peoples Press in 1973.