Hackney Gutter Press was the most revolutionary, counter-cultural and colourful of the plethora of community newspapers published in the borough in the early 1970s. Previous entries on this blog have covered issues 2-5.
The excellent Sparrows Nest archive in Nottingham have now scanned issues 1, 2, 4 and 6 as PDFs.
Most people in Hackney don’t like the way their lives are controlled by work, rents, councillors, police, schools etc. A lot of us are organising to fight their control – but we feel we don’t know enough about each other. For example with the coming tenants’ campaign against the Fair Rents Act we’re going to need a united fight if we are going to win – women at home, people going to work, claimants and kids together: we’re all tenants.
We want this newspaper to be used as part of getting to know each other. Organising to fight together. We want it to be used as a WEAPON TO FIGHT FOR OUR OWN CONTROL OF HACKNEY.
This first issue was produced by a group of people whjo are involved in organised activities such as Claimants’ Unions, squatting, Womens Liberation, playhouses for children, food co-ops.
We have intense discontent with the Hackney Gazette. Not only do they always report in favour of the rich and those in authority, but even this reporting is inadequate, amateurish and often totally inaccurate.
HACKNEY GUTTER PRESS is non-profit making and its policy will be decided from issue to issue by open meetings.
The first meeting witll be at Centerprise, 34, Dalston Lane on Thursday May 4th at 8pm. This is open to all wishing to help produce the paper, writing, drawing cartoons, distributing, reporting, etc.Introduction from Hackney Gutter Press issue 1
It looks like the debut issue was published in April 1972. (Judging by the dates referred to in the articles)
Contents of the first issue include:
- Why Not Squat? On direction action to solve the homeless issue. The Council faces resistance when it tries to evict four families squatting Grayling Road in Stoke Newington.
- The Stoke Newington 8 – update on the arrests of 6 people in Amhurst Road the previous year in relation to Angry Brigade bombings.
- Mildmay Action House, 26 Mildmay Park N1. “We’d had enough, kids around the house all day, fed up with endless housework and nowhere else to go. So we took action – women and children from Grosvenor Avenue marched on the Council last summer and demanded a house and money – we got both, and started work straight away on repairing and painting the house, clearing the garden” – plans to run the house collectively as community/childcare centre and Claimant’s Union.
- Militant protests outside two different Hackney Social Security Offices, both broken up by police.
- Last train to Dalston Junction? North London line station (i.e. Dalston Kingsland now) threatened with closure.
- In the Courts – defend yourself with McKenzie advisors – Three members of Highbury and Hackney Claimants’ Union were charged with criminal damage for painting slogans on the side of a Social Security Office. They defended themselves in court were initially fined £30 and then acquitted on appeal. “The defendants told the magistrates what a load of deathlike, corrupt, prejudiced, bastards they were, representing a law designed only to prevent people taking back what is their own.” The defendants also demanded a minute’s silence for the 13 people murdered in Derry recently! (NB – do not do any of this now, Radical History of Hackney will not be held legally liable if you happen to spray paint a benefits office and/or are convicted after defending yourself in court).
- Rents Will Double – Then There’ll Be Trouble. Calls for rent strikes if council rents increase from £3.50 to £7.47. And quite right too. Suggestion that the tenants associations run by the Labour Party will not be aggressive enough in challenging the increase.
The design for issue 6 was more sombre. Perhaps reflecting the contents or possibly the budget. It seems to have been published in December 1972.
The cover story is on the conclusion of the trial of the Stoke Newington 8 “after 111 days and nearly £1,000,000 in costs”:
Hackney Gutter Press was concerned about the policing of the suspects, the safety of convictions and the wider implications of the use of conspiracy to imprison radicals. It called for James Greenfield, Anna Mendelssohn, John Barker and Hilary Creek (who were found guilty) to be regarded as political prisoners.
There are some reprints of the wildly lurid coverage of the trial from the tabloids:
Also in this issue:
- Demonstration at the Town Hall against the implementation of the government’s Housing Finance Act.
- Up The Squatters! 25 people squatting 4 houses in Dalston take on Second Actel Housing Association. Scenes of disorder in the courtroom. The case was thrown out, eviction staved off. Also a new squat at 98 Richmond Road E8.
- Freedom of the Press? Or ideology of the State? on BBC and media bias.
- Justice in Action – British Home Stores in Mare Street takes a 75 year old pensioner to court for allegedly nicking 16 pence worth of sweets.
- Securicor – concern that private security firms will be used against protestors / poor people more generally.
- Fight To Live – unemployment and the radical demand for an equal living income for all.
- Hackney Dossers – survey of rough sleeping in the borough.
The back page has the usual contacts for radical and community organisations as well as a bold short piece slagging off a magistrate:
Also on the back page, a plea for assistance. with production and sale of the magazine. “The Gutter Press needs helpers if it is to keep going”. This looks like the last issue though. After this the paper merged with the more moderate Hackney Action to form the much longer running Hackney People’s Press.