Posts Tagged ‘Cable st’

Rip Down the Ripper Facade!

Sunday, June 19th, 2022

Rip Down the Ripper Facade! When Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe, a former former head of diversity for Google got his architects to apply for planning permission to turn a building on Cable Street in East London into a ‘Museum of Women’s History’ the application stated it would “recognise and celebrate the women of the East End who have shaped history, telling the story of how they have been instrumental in changing society. It will analyse the social, political and domestic experience from the Victorian period to the present day.” The application his architects submitted was illustrated with pictures of suffragettes and other notable women from the past.

Rip Down the Ripper Facade!

But when the boards around the site came down in 2015, everyone was shocked to see it was instead it had been turned into a ‘Jack the Ripper Museum’, exploiting the unfortunate women who had been the victims of a series of unsolved murders in the East End in 1888. The architect who made the application and others who had been consulted made clear they had been duped into supporting the project and there were protests outside by members of the local community including the Bishop of Stepney, the Rt Rev Adrian Newman, and Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs.

Rip Down the Ripper Facade!
Class War Womens Death Brigade arrive for the protest

But most of the protests outside the tacky tourist attraction have been by Class War and its supporters along with feminists including London Fourth Wave Feminists who, together with Class War’s Womens Death Brigade organised the protest I photographed on June 19th 2016. These groups continued to protest after others – including Tower Hamlets Council – appear to have given up.

Rip Down the Ripper Facade!
London Fourth Wave Feminists were there waiting

The council in 2016 refused retrospective planning permission for the shop front and ordered changes to the signage and the removal of a metal roller shutter, which the shop had installed after a window was broken by persons unknown in the middle of the night – not during one of the protests outside as Wikipedia (and possibly the shop owner) suggest. I think I was present at all of the various protests except for the first rather tame event which the local council had arranged to calm things down after Class War and others had widely advertised one for the following evening.

Class War women had brought inflatable plastic hammers

The planning decision was appealed by the shop, and even after their appeal failed the council failed to take enforcement action and it was not until 2018 that the shop front was redesigned. Bad publicity from the protests possibly contributed to the commercial failure of the shop, though there were also poor reviews from visitors who felt it not to be value for money.

Black-clad protesters arrived set off some red smoke

Class War did not of course ‘Rip Down the Ripper Facade’ but the action was typical of their street theatre with inflatable plastic hammers and a little coloured smoke, while the Fourth Wave Feminists came with cat masks and posters to make clear why they were opposed to the shop’s glorification and profiting from violence against women. Eggs were thrown at one of the signs the shop had been ordered to remove and the windows were liberally covered with stickers, but there was no permanent damage.

Rip Down the Ripper Facade!
Ian Bone reaches past police to post a sticker on the window

During the roughly hour long protest there were no customers who came to try and enter the shop, and none inside left. Although London was spilling over with tourists on a Sunday afternoon in June, apparently none wanted to visit this particular tourist attraction. It had been hoped it would close after it was put up for sale in April 2021, but appears still to be open.

More on My London Diary: Rip Down the Ripper Facade!


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Four Years Ago

Thursday, October 14th, 2021

Four years ago, on October 14th 2017, I found myself in the unusual position of looking for a Michelin starred restaurant in Mayfair, definitely something well outside of my normal social and financial territory. But I wasn’t looking for somewhere to eat, but to photograph a protest outside calling on the restaurant’s owner and his head chef not to break the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel by participating in Brand Israel culinary event ‘Round Tables’ in Tel Aviv in November 2017.

The protesters say that events like these are part of an Israeli government’s Public Relations efforts to distract from its policies of occupation and apartheid by bringing international prestige to Israel’s culinary scene and that his event is sponsored by Dan Hotels who have a branch built on stolen Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem.

This was a peaceful protest, with Palestinian flags, banners about Israeli apartheid and ethnic cleaning and supporting the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel (BDS) and calling for justice for Palestinians. Those protesting included both Palestinians and Jews. A small group of counter-protesters also came, holding an Israeli flag, one of whom came to tell me that everything it stated on the protesters banners were lies. I told him that I had friends in Palestine and know how they were treated both by the Israeli government and by Jewish settlers who came and destroyed their olive trees while Israeli forces stood and watched taking no action against them.

I left to join Class War and London 4th Wave Feminists who were protesting again outside the tacky tourist trap in Cable St which glorifies the exploits of ‘Jack the Ripper‘ and his brutal series of 19th century murders and exhibiting materials relating to the death of working class women who were his victims.

The so-called ‘museum’ only gained planning permission by claiming it would celebrate the history of women in the East End and not their horrific slaughter, and although Tower Hamlets council were unable to withdraw the consent they were now failing to enforce decisions about inappropriate signage and unuathorised metal shutters. Class War came with plastic inflatable hammers to symbolically attacked these.

Police tried hard to get the protesters to move away from the shop with no success, and escorted a few customers past the protesters inside. There were few during the hour or so of the protest, and at least one group went away when they heard what the protesters had to say, while another group who had been inside came out and told them that they thought the “museum” was very disappointing in the way it treated the murders.

I left as the Ripper protest was coming to an end to go to the Zimbabwe Embassy, where every Saturday afternoon the Zimbabwe democracy and human rights vigil takes place. Today was a special day as the first vigil was held on 12th October 2002 and they were celebrating 15 years (780 vigils) having vowed to continue until the human rights abuses of the Mugabe regime are ended and there free and fair elections in the country.

Among those present were several who had been at that first vigil in 2002 including human rights activist Peter Tatchell who had been badly beaten when he attempted a citizen’s arrest on Mugabe in Brussels in 2001, and his is one of the hands holding the knife to cut the cake.

Zimbabwe vigil celebrates 15 years
Class War return to Ripper “Museum”
Little Social don’t break the cultural boycott


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Cable St Remembered

Sunday, October 4th, 2020

Back on October 4th 2006 we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Cable St. Then there were still quite a few people present who had their own memories of the day people from the East End fought police and fascist marchers, stopping them from marching.

In my account of the event I wrote (capitalisation added):

The man standing next to me quietly said “I was there” and later told me a little of the event and his life. It was the story of a typical East-ender of the era, 13 when it happened. His parents had arrived from Poland in 1912 and settled close to Cable Street, later moving to Brick Lane. Despite being Jewish he had gone to the Methodist Mission just down Cable Street and paid his penny to watch films of a Friday night. And like the rest of his friends, he went with the crowds to stop the fascists. Later, in uniform, he was a part of the army which went to europe to finish off the job in 1944, getting married shortly before he left. Still married after 62 years, he now lives with his wife in north London.

My London Diary – October 2006

You can read the story of one of the women who was there in 1936, Beattie Orwell in a long post on Spitalfields Life, published in 2018 when she was 100.

Max Levitas (1915-2018), perhaps the best-known of the Cable St veterans, and a life-long communist activist and antifascist fighter in the East End, led the march on the 75th anniversary in 2011 and made a powerful speech at the rally.

2016 was the 80th anniversary and was again marked by a larger than usual event, beginning with a well-attended rally in Altab Ali Park before marching to Cable St.

The march was attended by a very wide range of groups, reflecting the people who had come out onto the streets in 1936. Again on My London Diary I wrote:

It was the community that came out onto the streets. People from the mainly Jewish areas of the East End, trade unionists, communist rank and file and Irish dock workers. Men and women in a grass roots movement opposed to Mosley, people who knew that they would be the victims if he came to power. And of course the battle was not against Mosley, but against the police.

Of course there were communists and socialists among those who came out on the streets, and some who played a leading role. But it was essentially a victory for the working class left, for the anarchists and for many without political affiliations who came together spontaneously to defend their place and their people.

My London Diary – October 2016

Back in 1936 the Labour Party had urged people to stay away from the protest and go instead to Hyde Park, and even the Communist Party had opposed trying to stop Mosley until they saw that the fight was inevitable.

The march rather reflected this official caution, with marchers being told to keep to the pavement rather than march on the road. It was left to the anarchists and some of the more militant left to give a more authentic celebration of the event when they remained in front of the mural when the others left for the official rally at the end of the march.

Class War began their own rally, with Martin Wright as the only speaker giving a detailed account of the events of 1936 and their continuing significance, but this was interrupted when Italian communists and anti-fascist groups began their own very noisy performance with chants and flares.

Many more pictures from these events online at My London Diary:

Battle of Cable St 70th Anniversary 2016
Battle of Cable St – 75 Years 2011
Battle of Cable Street 80 Rally 2016
Battle of Cable Street 80 March 2016
Black bloc rally at the Cable St Mural 2016


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.