7th May: A Hackney Biography app and book launch

This just in from the organisers:

You are invited to the launch of the
A Hackney Autobiography mobile app & book
Sunday 7 May

You are invited to celebrate the launch of A Hackney Autobiography: a mobile app and website and the publication of The Lime Green Mystery: An oral history of the Centerprise co-operative.

When: Sunday 7th May, 5 – 7 pm

Where: Sutton House, 2 and 4 Homerton High Street, London E9 6JQ. Map here.
Booking essential.

Contact: info@on-the-record.org.uk to reserve your place.

Before the party, there’s a unique chance to preview one of the audiowalks featured on the app as a group. Meet at 3:30 at Homerton station and RSVP asap as places are booking up quickly.

What: hear a roundtable of speakers who are engaged in cultural and community activities in related fields, reflect on the history of Centerprise as re-presented by a hackney autobiography and join the discussion. Receive a free copy of The Lime Green Mystery, preview the app and get help downloading it.

Speakers include: Toyin Agbetu from Ligali, Vivian Archer from Newham Bookshop, Nana Fani Kayode, teacher and radio producer, Gary Molloy from Core Arts, Marie Murray from Dalston Eastern Curve Garden and representatives from the Young Historians’ Project.

Event organised in collaboration with Pages bookshop

More details on the app, book and audiowalk below.


Through the memories and reflections of many of the people involved, The Lime Green Mystery charts how the Centerprise co-operative (1971 – 1993) attempted to put radical ideas about education, culture and community work into practice. It explores issues of representation, power and collective management and will appeal to those interested in radical community organisations, grassroots bookselling and publishing, the adult literacy movement, London’s social history, and to people involved in community-based cultural and co-operative initiatives today.

Pre-order your free copy now by emailing us with your address. Limited numbers available, pre-ordering is encouraged to avoid disappointment. Donations to cover the cost of postage appreciated but not essential.

The Inside Out Homerton Audiowalk

The walk explores birth, madness and creativity, inside and out of The Institution. This 45 minute immersive audio walk blurs boundaries between auditory hallucination and external sound. This is a unique opportunity to experience a hackney autobiography, with the people featured in it.

To book a place on the Inside Out Homerton audiowalk, please contact us by 21 April. Later bookings will be accepted if places remain available.People who don’t like smart phones are welcome!

A Hackney Autobiography app

Poetic sat-nav, mapping Hackney through the writing and memories of its people. A hackney autobiography features:

  • four audio walks, each with original illustrations and music
  • over fifty bite-sized stories about creativity, education and resistance in Hackney.

All content was published or inspired by Centerprise, a radical cultural and community project (1971-2012).

The app and website will be launched at the end of April and will be at http://ahackneyautobiography.org.uk

7th December: Daniel Rachel and Ken Worpole on Rock Against Racism

This just in from The Broadway Bookshop, 6 Broadway Market…

in conversation with KEN WORPOLE
Wednesday 7 December 2016 at 7 p.m.

We are delighted to announce that Daniel Rachel will be appearing at the shop on Wednesday 7 December to read and talk about his new book WALLS COME TUMBLING DOWN (published by Picador).

Daniel’s remarkable oral history – which brilliantly captures the mood on the streets of British cities before and after the epoch-changing rise of Rock Against Racism – will be introduced by writer Ken Worpole, who remembers when Hackney’s streets were on the front line.

Tickets £3 (includes glass of wine). For booking please RSVP: books@broadwaybookshophackney.com or call 020 7241 1626. For further information please see below.


About the book:In August 1976, Eric Clapton made an inflammatory speech in support of Enoch Powell and ‘black’ repatriation, sparking an anti-racism campaign that would soon radicalise an entire generation. The following sixteen years saw politics and pop music come together as never before to challenge racism, gender inequality and social and class divisions. For the first time in UK history, musicians became instigators of social change; and their political persuasion as important as the songs they sang.

Through the voices of campaigners, musicians, artists and politicians, Daniel Rachel charts this extraordinary and pivotal period between 1976 and 1992, following the rise and fall of three key movements of the time: Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone, and Red Wedge, revealing how they both shaped, and were shaped by, the music of a generation.

Consisting of new and exclusive in-depth conversations with over 100 contributors, including Pauline Black, Billy Bragg, Jerry Dammers, Phill Jupitus, Neil Kinnock, Linton Kwesi-Johnson, Tom Robinson, Clare Short, Tracey Thorn and many more, Walls Come Tumbling Down is a fascinating, polyphonic and authoritative account of those crucial sixteen years in Britain’s history, from the acclaimed writer of Isle of Noises.

Walls Come Tumbling Down also features more than 150 images – many rare or previously unpublished – from some of the greatest names in photography, including Adrian Boot, Chalkie Davies, Jill Furmanovsky, Syd Shelton, Pennie Smith, Steve Rapport and Virginia Turbett.

“We were trying to change the world in our tiny way by stopping the rise of fascism amongst youth with the power of music.” – Red Saunders, founder of Rock Against Racism.

‘An amazing oral history’ Billy Bragg


Daniel Rachel wrote his first song when he was sixteen and was the lead-singer in Rachels Basement. He was first eligible to vote in the 1992 General Election and now lives in north London with his partner and three children. Daniel is the author of Isle of Noises: Conversations with Great British Songwriters – a Guardian and NME Book of the Year – also published by Picador, and a regular guest contributor on BBC Radio 5.


Ken Worpole is a writer and social historian, whose work includes many books on architecture, landscape and public policy. He is married to photographer Larraine Worpole with whom he has collaborated on book projects internationally, as well as in Hackney, London, where they have lived and worked since 1969.

Ken is Emeritus Professor, Cities Institute London Metropolitan University, and has served on the UK government’s Urban Green Spaces Task Force, on the Expert Panel of the Heritage Lottery Fund, and as an adviser to the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.


Black history arts/activism exhibition at Hackney Museum


Next week sees the launch of a new exhibition at Hackney Museum which looks well worth checking out:

People Power: Black British arts and activism in Hackney 1960s-2000s
4 October 2016 – 21 January 2017

This exhibition explores aspects of Black British arts and activism which have developed in Hackney since the 1960s.

There is another exhibition running until the new year which should also be of interest:

Sharing Our Stories: Jewish Stamford Hill 1930s-1950s
13 September 2016 – 9 January 2017

A display of local people’s stories by Teen Action, a Chassidic Orthodox Jewish organisation for young women, and Hackney Museum.

Opening times, contact details etc can be found here.

April events of interest

Organised by Hackney Museum:

A Walking Tour of Clapton & Homerton during the First World War
Sunday 3 April, 2pm-3.30pm
Meeting point provided after booking

This walk explores the fascinating legacy of the war in Hackney including interned enemy aliens; conscientious objectors; diverse communities; rioters; rogues, victims and heroes.
Walk guided by Julian Putkowski, a local military historian and broadcaster.

Free but you need to book.

Hackney’s Conscientious Objectors: A Talk
Thursday 14 April, 6.30pm
Hackney Archives

This illustrated talk by Ben Copsey of the Peace Pledge Union uncovers a few of the stories of Hackney’s 350 conscientious objectors during the First World War. To accompany the exhibition at Hackney Archives.

Free but you need to book.

Speak to the World
Wednesday 6 April, 10.30am-12.30am and 2pm-4pm
Hackney Museum 
Be inspired by posters from the First World War and make your own poster with bright and bold messages to take home and send out to the people of Hackney and beyond. Led by artist Lucy Harrison.

Free drop-in family workshop.

Organised by Abney Park:

The Georgian Activist Legacy
16 April, 1pm & 2.30pm
Free, booking recommended

Abney Park presents an afternoon of events celebrating the lives and legacies of our Georgian activists!

Georgian activist cemetery tour, 1pm
“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”
Abney Park cemetery provides an important connection to the events of the 18th and 19th centuries and the people who fought against the Transatlantic Slave Trade and social injustices. Join historian Onyeka as we take a tour of the cemetery to hear about influential activists and abolitionists whose final resting place is Abney Park. Learn about the lives of people such as Rev. Aaron Buzacott (secretary to the anti-slavery movement in the Ottoman Empire), Christopher Newman Hall (supporter of the abolitionist movement during the American Civil War) and Joanna Vassa (daughter of Olaudah Equiano). This is a free tour but spaces are limited so please book in advance: http://bit.ly/1RuPiM0

Talk: The Life of Joanna Vassa, 2.30pm
Join Angelina Osbourne (author of Equiano’s Daughter: the Life and Times of Joanna Vassa) for an imagining of Vassa’s life, exploring all the important events she would have lived through and the kind of life she would have led.

Joanna Vassa, daughter of Olaudah Equiano, died in 1857 and is buried in Abney Park. During the afternoon you’ll have the chance to learn more about the Trust’s plans for vital conservation work on her memorial.


Radical History Network – aiming for another event in May, more news on their blog soon (and here).

Antiuniversity Now 2016. 9-12 June. Various events various locations tbc but presumably including Hackney. Maybe organise your own?



Meeting on Hackney Spycops – Feb 26th

Previous entries on this site have covered police spies in Hackney and the campaigns seeking justice arising from their actions.

This site also includes quite a bit of material by and about Hackney Community Defence Association.

The campaigns around spycops are an inspiring example of how radical history can be linked to current struggles.


Meeting organised by Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS)

Big Brother – Who’s Watching You? Mark Jenner meeting

February 26 @ 7:00 pm9:30 pm

Why did undercover cop Mark Jenner infiltrate Hackney campaigns in the 1990s?

The Special Demonstration Squad’s Mark Jenner was deployed using the name Mark Cassidy.

The Undercover Research Group’s extensive profile of Jenner shows the range of issues he spied on – anti-racist campaigns, trade unions, Irish republicanism and Hackney community campaigns. He chaired meetings, wrote articles and instigated action.

Why was he there?


Graham Smith – former secretary of Hackney Community Defence Association, founding member of the Colin Roach Centre

John McDonnell MP – shadow chancellor and social justice campaigner

Female speaker from Police Spies Out of Lives who was affected by undercover policing in Hackney

Mark Metcalf – founder member of the Colin Roach Centre, NUJ member, editor of the Unite Rebel Road and book of the month projects

Friday 26 February
Doors open 7pm for prompt 7.30 start


42-44 Brooksby’s Walk, London E9 6DF

0208 533 0227



Mark Metcalf wrote There Is No Way Of Knowing How Much Damage Jenner Caused shortly after Jenner was exposed.

“Alison”, an activist who was deceived into a five year co-habiting relationship with Jenner, gave this testimony to parliament and told her story to Newsnight in 2014.

forthcoming events and updates

1. “Sites of Resistance: Radical Bookselling” – 9th February

Applied History Network:
Sites of Resistance: Radical Bookselling
A discussion event
Marx Memorial Library, 37a Clerkenwell Green, London, EC1R 0DU
Tuesday 9th February 2016, 6.30-8pm

We are pleased to announce that our next event ‘Sites of Resistance: Radical Bookselling‘ will be held at the Marx Memorial Library, London EC1R 0DR on Tuesday 9th February at 6.30pm until 8pm. Please go to our Eventbrite page to register. The event is free of charge but registration is required.

We will be looking at the importance of radical bookshops as “sites of resistance.” The 1970s saw a peak in the numbers of bookshops dedicated to providing access to alternative publications covering the growing anti-racist, LGBT+ and feminist movements, amongst others. Many of these bookshops also acted as meeting places and support centres for new and established groups, and offered a template for encouraging further grassroots and community activism and campaigning. More recently, the numbers of these vital “sites of resistance” have closed due to increasing rents, funding cuts, the growth of online bookstores and competition from larger bookshops.

Although bookshops have been a core element of campaigns, as a subject this seems to have been neglected by researchers and historians of social history. Key questions that we will cover are: has the internet already filled the space left by these important centres? What is the future of activism and campaigning? And the future of radical bookshops?


Sarah Garrod: Archivist, George Padmore Institute

Nik Gorecki: Co-ordinator, Alliance of Radical Booksellers and co-manager of Housmans

Ken Worpole: Author

Rosa Vilbr: Oral Historian and founder of On the Record

Register here


2. “A Revolutionary school girl in the 1960s” – 9th March 2016

Radical History Network of North-East London:
A Revolutionary school girl in the 1960s

Speaker: Di Parkin
Wood Green Social Club, 3 Stuart Crescent, London N22 5NJ
Wednesday 9th March 2016, 7.30 pm

One day after international women’s day, Di Parkin will give a talk that is based on the earlier ‘Running Down Whitehall with a Black Flag’.

Using reminiscence and some archives, it gives a snapshot of left action between 1962 and 1965, including Aldermaston Marches, opposition to Franco, protests against the visit of Greek royals in 1963, and other activism.

Plus discussion

The talk provides an opportunity to share experiences, as well as to hear about and discuss some of the events and movements that challenged ‘the old order’.

•How does this history connect with campaigns today?
•What are the main differences and similarities? What was better; what was worse?
•Things we can learn from? How much do different generations learn from each other?

Free to attend, all welcome.


3. “Out and Proud in North London” – notes from a previous RaHN meeting

A lot of people expressed an interest in this meeting but only a few of them made it along on the night. It was great! The notes have now been published in two parts:

a. Chris’s story

b. Sylvia’s story

4. Past Tense

Our radical history comrades at Past Tense are planning a discussion/social to work through the future of the project:




late Nov / early Dec events of interest

Abney Park Trust and Hackney Archives bring you:
The Life and Times of Joanna Vassa

Thurs 26 Nov, 6-7.45pm.

Free entry
At Hackney Archives, Dalston CLR James Library, Dalston Square, London E8 3B

A talk by Arthur Torrington, OBE, Secretary of The Equiano Society.

Joanna Vassa was the only surviving child of the former enslaved African and anti-slavery campaigner Olaudah Equiano. Find out how her grave was discovered in 2005 in Abney Park and learn about her father’s incredible journey from slavery to abolitionist campaigner and bestselling author.

Booking essential – email: archives@hackney.gov.uk or call: 020 8356 8925
All ages welcome
Friends of Hackney Archives Talk:
Uncovering London’s Radical History – David Rosenberg

Thursday 10th December
6.00pm Refreshments
6.30pm Talk

At Education Room, Dalston CLR James Library and Hackney Archives, Dalston Square, London

In this illustrated talk David will tell some of these stories of trail-blazing chartists and suffragettes, pacifists and anti-fascists that he collected for his book Rebel Footprints: a guide to uncovering London’s radical history (Pluto March 2015).

Writer and educator David Rosenberg began leading walks of London’s radical history in 2007, unearthing stories of ordinary people who fought for better lives, from the beginning of the 1830s to the end of the 1930s, especially in London’s first manufacturing area – the East End.

If you would like to attend this event, please book your place with Hackney Archives Department (020 8356 8925 or email