Posts Tagged ‘racists’

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


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.



Gurdip Singh Chaggar & Blair Peach

Saturday, August 24th, 2019

This wasn’t the first time I’d been to Southall for a rally remembering the murder there of Blair Peach by the police Special Patrol Group in 1979, though I don’t remember if Gurdip Singh Chaggar’s murder was also remembered at those earlier events.

Blair Peach had come to the UK from New Zealand in 1969 and he was roughly my age. He was working as a teacher in the East End, and like me was an active member of the National Union of Teachers, though I didn’t come across him as I was working around 40 miles away and only involved at a local level.

I suspect we went to some of the same protests agains apartheid in South Africa and against racism, but I was not at the Anti-Nazi League demonstration in Southall on the day he was murdered, probably because although it was not far from where I was living, it was a week after Easter Monday and I was probably working and could not have arrived until it was due to finish.

The racist National Front had called a meeting in Southall Town Hall for 7.30pm, and because it was in the run-up to the forthcoming General Election on 3rd May in which the NF had a candidate (he got 1545 votes, 3.0% of the vote) Ealing Council were unable to refuse them the use of the hall, despite a petition from 10,000 local residents.

Several local groups as well as the Anti-Nazi League organised protests across the day, including the Indian Workers’ Association, outside whose offices Gurdip Singh Chaggar, coming home from the Dominion Cinema, had been set upon and murdered by skinheads in June 1976, and Peoples Unite, a largely Afro-Carribean group who along with others had been involved in disturbances which followed Chaggar’s murder.

Although there had been some reports of bricks and bottles being thrown, the real violence began when the police Special Patrol Group decided to raid a squat being used by People’s Unite as a first aid post. Two officers were reported as wounded and the SPG took out vengeance on all those in the house, and Clarence Baker was hit on the head by a police truncheon, fracturing his skull and putting him in a coma for five months.

Police had kept a cordon around the Town Hall, and escorted the fascists in. Once the meeting had begun they decided to clear the area, allowing protesters to move away westwards along Southall Broadway. Peach and a group of friends were leaving, going back to where they had parked, and turned off south down Beachcroft Road. Unfortunately for them, this road stops short, running into Orchard Rd and then going back towards the Broadway. As they approached Orchard Rd they were met by the SPG, who jumped out of their vans and were now rioting out of control and lashing out at everyone on the road. It’s unclear whether the baton wielded by the officer who killed Peach was standard police issue or as some report soemthing rather heavier. Conscious but in obvious difficulties he was taken into a nearby house and an ambulance called, but he died in hospital four hours later.

Today’s protest started close to where Gurdip Singh Chaggar was murdered and the march halted there for a minute’s silence before going on to stop outside the Gurdwara where he and his family worhsipped. Later it took Peach’s route from Broadway down Beechcroft Road and people laid flowers on the corner of Orchard Road where he received the fatal blow, before going on to a rally outside the Town Hall.

More about the protest at Southall rally for unity against racism.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr


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.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.