January 2020 updates

While this blog has hibernated, others have been busy…

Rio Cinema Archive is an Instagram feed that features scans of photographs from a community project based at the cinema in the 1980s. It’s a fantastic resource that shows Hackney in all its glorious colours and includes documentation of number of protests:

1984 collecting for the Miners Strike Support Fund
Colin Roach protest outside Stoke Newington Police Station 1985
Sept 26 1983 saw a day of community action in Hackney to protest cuts to the NHS and hospital closures at St Leonard’s and the Mother’s Hospital on Lower Clapton Rd, pictured here is an effigy of Thatcher the milk snatcher outside St Leonard’s

The scanning is being done by friend of this site Alan Denney and is an ongoing project – at the time of writing just under 700 photos have been posted. There is an article from the Hackney Gazette about the project here.

Tamara Stoll’s Ridley Road Market is a lavish 248 page hardback book featuring archival and contemporary photographs.

“Ridley Road market is where the world meets. No one has captured its vibrancy and humanity better than Tamara Stoll. Her book is now the definitive record of one of the most historic and colourful street markets of London, if not the world.”

Ken Worpole, writer, social historian and Hackney resident since 1969

You can order the book direct from https://ridleyroadmarketbook.com/ and copies were available in Stoke Newington Bookshop last time I was in there.

On a related note, Verso have published We Fight Fascists: The 43 Group and Their Forgotten Battle for Post-War Britain by Daniel Sonabend. This is a very welcome account of the story of the Jewish ex-servicemen who fought British fascists on the streets of London after World War Two. It widens the scope of the Maurice Beckman’s seminal The 43 Group: Untold Story of Their Fight Against Fascism that Centerprise published in the 1990s. (Which remains essential and was the first book on the radical history of Hackney that I read).

Sonabend has done a great job of talking to other surviving members of the 43 Group who (understandably) sometimes had slightly different recollections to Beckman. There is a whole chapter of the book given over to 1947’s “The Battle of Ridley Road” in which The 43 Group (and Communist Party of Great Britain) fought physically with the fascist League of Ex-Servicemen for speaking pitches on Ridley Road over several weeks.

You can hear the author discuss the book and his research in this episode of the thoroughly recommended 12 Rules For What anti-fascist podcast:

Ken Worpole has kindly alerted me to the publication of A New World In Essex: The Rise and Fall of the Purleigh Brotherhood Colony 1896-1903 by Victor Gray:

A story of disappointed idealism set in late-Victorian rural Essex where a group of Christian Socialists from Croydon, inspired by the writings of Leo Tolstoy, went ‘back to the land’ to create a Utopian colony. This detailed study of an influential experiment in community living tracks their struggle to survive and the reasons for its ultimate failure.”

Ken has written an interesting account of Christian Socialists J.C. Kenworthy and John Bruce Wallace, both of whom are included in the book because of their connection with the Brotherhood Church in Hackney.

Ken is also interested in any information that might confirm that Kenworthy Road in Homerton is named after J.C. Kenworthy (as am I – now that I know about it!)

You can find our more about A New World In Essex – and order a copy – from Campanula Books.

Finally, I have failed to get to the Hackney’s Got Style: Celebrating the History and Impact of African and Caribbean Fashion and Hair exhibition at Hackney Museum so am relieved that it has now been extended to Saturday 21st March. Free entry, looks very cool, be rude not to:

Images from the Hackney Museum twitter feed

I also have a bunch of unfinished posts sitting here that hopefully will get done… sometime.

“Stand Up And Spit”: Tim Wells and Hackney ranting poetry

Attila The Stockbroker with Tim Wells

Attila The Stockbroker with Tim Wells

Long-time Hackney resident Tim Wells is heading up a project to document the ranting poetry movement of the 1980s. This was poetry done by working class people inspired by the DIY snottiness of punk.

His Stand Up And Spit blog is a great collection of documentation of ranting poetry, including 1980s fanzines and music press excerpts and some current interviews and reminiscences from former ranters (and some that never stopped).

A recent entry includes some excellent dub poetry by Hugh Boatswain on racist policing in Stoke Newington in the 1970s. Boatswain was part of a group of young people who met at Centerprise.

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Janine Booth

Also worth checking out is this piece by another Hackney resident, Janine Booth, on her time as a ranting poet, and why she gave it up to become a trade union activist. She has recently returned to poetry though, and has published an anthology called “Mostly Hating Tories”.

Stand Up And Spit events/gigs are happening in London too:

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Tim’s own anthology “Rougher Yet” includes a number of poems about growing up in Hackney and how the borough is changing…