Hackney Gutter Press issue 3, June 1972

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Issue 3 included a cover story about some Irish republicans being arrested in Hackney, extradited to Belfast for interrogation and then returned to London where they were charged with possession of arms and ammunition. After the four had been in prison on remand for eight months, the charges were dropped as it turned out they had been fitted up by a special branch spy cop.

Also:

A one page article on the the beginning of the trial of the Stoke Newington 8. Apparently there were 137 other “Angry Brigade” suspects.

A report back from a meeting of “between two and three hundred women… at the London College of Furniture in Commercial Street in Stepney”. Topics included wages for housework, campaigns to get better wages for cleaners, abortion, contraception, housing struggles.

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“If he dies it will save us the expense” – apparently the words used by social security staff in response to a campaign to get a 74 year old man some essentials like a dressing gown in readiness for a hospital visit. You can read the full text of the article above.

Kick The Bastards Out – on dole snoopers.

Black Tenants Fight Back – on racist attacks against black families on Haggerston Estate, and a call for white tenants to show solidarity.

Squatting:

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The Story of One Man’s House“Hackney, it seems, has become the centre of interest for the mobile middle class. As everyone who has walked along the streets of the area in the last few months is aware, houses in Hackney have become the latest in fashion. The news has even got as far as the pages of the ‘Sunday Times’ who ran a story in the Magazine several weeks ago in which Stoke Newington, Hackney and Dalston were named as areas that are likely to become fashionable in the next few years. This is even more amazing in that the area has not got a single tube line going through the area, and if the GLC and British Rail have their way there will be one more motorway and one less rail line. The area is however beside the fashionable Islington and it is in direct line between the West End and the proposed new airport.”

The article goes to relate the story of someone trying to purchase a house on their road for £3,400 but getting gazumped by a developer who gives it a lick of paint and puts it back on the market for £13,000. Google says the same house is currently valued at £600,000…

Dockers and Containers – on the dockers’ strike and continuing picket of the Midland Cold Storage co, Waterden Lane (Hackney Wick, now slap bang in the Olympic Park).

Also poems, details of folk clubs, letters (including one of the Grosvenor Avenue arrestees referred to in the previous issue, who got a one year suspended sentence), small ads, an appeal for more people to get involved with laying out and distributing the paper.

Hackney Gutter Press issue 2, Spring 1972

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Update January 2020: you can now view this issue (and others) as a complete PDF at the Sparrows Nest Archive.

According to the National Archives:

Hackney Gutter Press was founded circa 1971 ‘by a group of people who are involved in organised activities such as Claimants Unions, squatting, Women’s Liberation, playhouses for children, food co-ops.’

The Hackney Gutter Press magazine seems more confrontational and subcultural than Hackney Action, which was being published at the same time. Gutter Press articles were sarcastic and sweary and already assumed a certain amount of scepticism of “the pigs”.

I have four issues (I’m missing issue 1) which all seem to have been published in 1972. (It seems that there were at least six issues in total.) Each of the ones I have is slightly larger than A4, with either 12 or 16 pages printed in a variety of coloured inks on paper in various colours. This has slightly tested my scanning skills, so apologies in advance.

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Issue 2 contents include:

Planners, Tenants and Bulldozers – Hackney Council proposing to knock down over one hundred houses in Sandringham Road, Downs Park Road, Cecilia Road, Ferncliffe Road and Mountford Road – without telling the people living in them (because apparently, unlike their landlords, they had “no interest” in the properties).

The Slippery Sands of Housing Associations“Housing associations were set up by the Government a few years ago as an attempt to do something about the housing situation. It was a situation that appealed mostly to the Tories, as Housing Associations were neither council housing which the Tories don’t like, nor private housing – although they could be turned into private housing later on.” – criticises housing associations for buying up properties and evicting the existing tenants. Second Actel Housing Association and its owner Mr Sands come in for particular scrutiny.

Ello Ello Ello – some general criticism of the police and a cynical and probably not very practical guide to making complaints against them. “Pig of the month: PC N399 from Kings Cross. He hangs around Shoreditch. Watch him. He’s nasty.”

Special Patrol Group in street-fight “A couple of months ago five people, all members of Claimants’ Unions, were arrested following a street fight in Grosvenor Avenue, Stoke Newington, involving members of Scotland Yard’s riot trained Special Patrol Group. Three police, in a large transit van, pulled up as three people left number 29. They began to question the driver, Chris Ratcliffe, as to who the owner was, was he insured, had he got a licence, etc. Chris went into 29 to fetch the owner who came out with the relevant documents and assured the police that Chris was in legitimate possession of the vehicle. Within half an hour there had been a fight, a raid on the house and five people arrested…between twenty and thirty police searched the house and smashed up some furniture.”

The five represented themselves in court. Three of the charges were thrown out. Two men were given suspended sentences (it doesn’t say for what) and a woman was remanded on bail for using obscene language. The Hackney Gazette reported the incident as “Incidents near Angry Brigade HQ*” which “the people involved consider… a malicious libel… they are taking legal advice.”

*29 Grosvenor Avenue is described as a commune in various reports. Jake Prescott of the Stoke Newington 8 is said to have lived there. It included a radical print shop in the basement.

Sexual Planning, Sexual Nightmares – women share their experiences of the dehumanising family planning clinics in the borough.

Hackney Hospital Horrors – women share their experiences of the dehumanising maternity and post-natal care in the borough – and campaign for basic stuff like a play room for kids in the ante-natal clinic and longer visiting hours.

SS found guilty – and about time too“As reported in Hackney Gutter Press No. 1, on Thursday, February 17th, the staff of the notorious Lower Clapton Social Security Office provoked a riot where claimants showed their anger by smashing up the barricaded cubicles. It was soon after this event that 3 Claimaints’ Union members were selected by the Social Security (SS) staff to be arrested and charged under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 – maximum penalty is 10 years!”

In summary – a member of Hackney Claimants’ Union tried to take a photo in the dole office and was punched in the face by a social security clerk and his camera smashed. The police came and arrested three Claimants’ Union members. The clerk was found guilty of assaulting a claimant. The charges against the claimants were adjourned. There is more on the case in future issues, as well as other material about the seemingly quite militant Hackney Claimants’ Union… to be continued!

In what would appear to be an unrelated story on the same page, a female Claimaints’ Union member was charged with assaulting the police by throwing a piece of chocolate (!) and was acquitted.

Collar Your Landlord – tips on taking him to a rent tribunal.

Plus – Brixton prison (“any man over the age of  21 living in Hackney and remanded in custody will almost certainly be sent to Brixton prison”), public transport (vs private cars), Who Killed Stephen McCarthy?, Hackney Workers Education Association meetings to discuss the Housing Finance Bill. And some small ads:

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More Hackney Gutter Press material to follow…

Weds December 10th: Activism and the under-fives – Radical History Network meeting

As soon as the women’s movement started, so did campaigns for more and better childcare…

The next meeting of the Radical History Network of NE London group will focus on how pressure was put on institutions and local authorities to provide cheap, good quality provision.

There is also an important story to be told about how alternative provision was set up outside the mainstream, while sometimes the two approaches overlapped.

Come along and share your experiences, and discuss how this connects with campaigns today.

Speakers will include:

Gail Chester – The struggle for council and community nurseries in Hackney from the 1970s onwards

Ivor Kallin – When Islington nursery workers shared a platform with the miners

Andrea Francke – History of nursery campaigns at the Royal College of Art and London College of Communication

+ other contributors from campaigns in higher education and community settings

Wednesday 10th December 7.30 p.m
Wood Green Social Club 3 Stuart Crescent, N22 5NJ

(off the High Rd, near Wood Green tube)

Free to attend, all interested people welcome.

http://radicalhistorynetwork.blogspot.co.uk/

image by Hackney Flashers