Part of an excitingly sporadic series, charting the radical history of Hackney through its community newspapers…
HPP started 1977 as a quarterly A4 newsletter and finished it as a tabloid monthly. This meant that an impressive six issues were published.
You can now view all six editions from this year in full as PDFs on archive.org (and all the ones from 1976 too)
Each issue included listings for community and political groups which make fascinating reading.
Here are some other highlights from 1977:
Issue 23‘s cover includes some dizzying references to price increases – Hackney People’s Press itself undergoing a two pence increase to 7p – and unhappiness about the rent on Hackney’s 26,000 Council homes going up by £2.50 a week. Whilst inflation means that these increases were fairly dramatic at the time, what is more interesting is that people felt that price increases should be apologised for – or resisted. These days they are often seen as a natural phenomenon like rain or the sun rising. Indeed the centre pages include a detailed account of several Labour councillors resigning – or being expelled – from Hackney Labour over protesting the rent rises.
Other bits in this issue:
- An expose of the prospective GLC election candidate for Hackney Liberal Party, his connections with the National Front and views on immigration.HPP congratulates John Pilger on his cover story for the Daily Mirror on the state of Hackneys hospitals – including “fungus on the walls”
- Hackney Women’s Aid open a new refuge.
- Chats Palace – a new community centre in Brooksby’s Walk
- Hackney Law Centre – a critical review of its first year.
- An emergency supplement about the prosecutions under the Official Secrets Act that would become known as the ABC Trial. Crispin Aubrey, a founder of HPP, was one of the three journalists prosecuted.
Finally, a great cartoon on the back page encouraging people to get involved:
Issue 24 lead with a story on the forthcoming GLC elections and included a handy centre-spread on who not to vote for (National Front). Joan Margaret Morgan, Labour candidate for Hackney South was campaigning on a platform including “A Chelsea – Hackney Tube line” which sounds a bit like the Dalston Overground (opened 2010):
Also in this issue:
- “March Against Beynon’s Bill – Tory MP (and Hackney property owner) William Beynon wanted to restrict the upper limit to abortion to 20 weeks. (It is usually 24 weeks at the moment)
- Hackney Homeworkers organise
- More on Crispin Aubrey’s official secrets prosecution
- Rio Cinema – “a concerted effort is being made to buy the Rio Cinema in Kingsland High Street. The idea is to turn it into a Centre for the arts and entertainment for the people who live in and around Hackney”
- Hackney Marsh Festival
- “Winkling” – property developers putting pressure on tenants to vacate
- A letter from the allegedly racist Liberal Party member exposed in the previous issue
- Concern about plans for a new lorry park in the borough
- Friends of the Earth campaign for more allotments
- Expansion of Haggerston Park – could some of it be given over to Gypsies?
The main story in issue 25 was a report on a demonstration opposing an election meeting held by the National Front in Shoreditch School on 30th April. At the time schools and other council buildings were obliged to allow their use for election rallies. An advert for the meeting in the Hackney Gazette lead to a walkout of journalists. Teachers, parents and other locals picketed the meeting. According to Dave Renton (in Never Again: Rock Against Racism and the Anti-Nazi League 1976-1982), there were about 500 protestors. Later that summer the NF would face serious protests when attempting to march through Lewisham.
Also in this issue:
- Squatters under attack by the council free-sheet The Hackney Herald. The council rep interviewed by HPP doesn’t want to comment on how many empty homes there were in Hackney at the time.
- Tenants on Morningside Estate getting a raw deal in the run up to the widening of Morning Lane.
- Tenants on Frampton Park win control of their own community centre.
- Looking back on the Metropolitan Hospital 1836-1977.
- Hackney Teachers fight compulsory transfers
- Poems from Hackney Writers Workshop (Centerprise)
- A look back at “The People Take Back The Land” story from HPP issue 1.
- Programme for Hackney Marsh Festival.
The September issue (the last of the bi-monthlies) leads with an arson attack on Centerprise – just two days after the National Front tried and failed to march through Lewisham.The article mentions other attacks on community bookshops at the time. Six weeks previously the shop had been vandalised with racist slogans and the locks glued.
- “After Lewisham” on the anti-NF protest and its implications.
- Critical support for the council’s “Health in Hackney” guide, distributed to all households – but reservations about funding cuts and rundown facilities
- Fire Station on Brooke Road, Stoke Newington to become a community centre
- An epidemic of apathy at Hackney Hospital Radio
- Evening classes – Hackney Workers Educational Association
- “Hackney Gasbag” – 8 page insert produced by Hackney children – squatting, hooliganism, skateboarding, Centerprise, National Union of School Students, Hackney history, live music reviews, puzzles, fashion – all the good things in life, basically.
November marked the first tabloid edition of HPP in a new monthly format – along with an apology for another price rise, up to 10 pence! The cover featured Hackney’s biggest march against racism and the National Front. This would be a long (and of course ongoing) battle – the NF opened up its National HQ in Shoreditch in the following year.
- Homelessness – proposal for the formation of Hackney Community Housing Action Group to survey empty homes in the borough
- Lenthal Road print workshop’s funding difficulties.
- Latin America Centre opens in Hoxton Square.
- Kingsmead tenants fight for renovations
- Campaign to restore Wiltons Music Hall in Stepney
- Longsight News, a community newspaper in Manchester being sued for libel by a policeman
- Walking down the River Lea
1977 finished up with issue 28.
Lead stories on the Fireman’s strike, the council collaborating with anti-abortion hostel on Kyverdale Road, Stoke Newington, the possibility of a £5m grant for Hackney and Islington from central government – HPP is sceptical of the council’s ability to seize this opportunity.
Cuts to pensioners organisation, Task Force, homelessness, criticism of John Pilger’s coverage of Hackney hospitals (also notes that the infant mortality rate in Hackney was 25% higher than the national average – “a crime against the people of Hackney”). Looking back at the first year of the Food For All on Cazenove Road (still there!) and the opening of a Womens Centre in the same building. Kids review comics.
Previously on this blog: