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.
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:
More Hackney Gutter Press material to follow…