Posts Tagged ‘Space Hijackers’

Hoxton 1948 Street Party

Tuesday, August 24th, 2021

No, I wasn’t taking pictures in 1948, nor was Hoxton’s 1948 street party taking place in 1948, but on Saturday 24th August 2008, the date marking the handover of the Olympics to London from Beijing where the 2008 Olympics had recently finished.

Hackney was one of the three boroughs – along with Tower Hamlets and Newham at the centre of the London 2012 Olympics, coming to London for the first time since 1948. The London Olympics then were very much run on a shoe-string in 1948, with a total budget of well under a million pounds – allowing for inflation probably rather less than a hundredth of the budget for 2012.

People in Hackney had decided to mark the event with a ‘1948 Street Party’ in Hoxton in the area of Hoxton Road where the market takes place (confusingly around half a mile from a street named Hoxton Market) and there were shops, museums and various local organisations taking part and putting on events and displays. And appropriately for a celebration of 1948 they organised their own ‘Austerity Olympics’ on the street, as well as some more serious boxing.

Hackney Council, being doctrinaire New Labour were of course appalled by the idea of a community initiative such as this. Their idea of politics was for people to put an X in the Labour box of the ballot paper and then sit back and let those they elected get on with running things to their advantage – without the people getting in the way of their schemes. So instead of backing a community initiative which might display what people thought about the forthcoming Olympics they snootily set up their own rival event in a park a few minutes walk away, with a giant screen relaying the events from Beijing.

There were two men waving Union Flags at the Hackney Council event.

I went to both, though most of the hour and a half I spent at the council event was an hour and a half of my life lost, tedious in the extreme, except for a short performance by a local kids group. There was a Chinese group with flags and a lion, but they seemed to be deliberately hidden away in a corner.

Back on Hoxton St, things were much more interesting, and very much a reminder of my own youth in the 1950s. I enjoyed a very nice cup of tea served in 1948 style china by a “nippy”, and in the street were tea parties (with free cakes) and displays of boxing, jitterbugging and various objects from the 1940s kitchen (almost all of which we still use at home, including a pastry blender – and no, it isn’t used to make bread.) Pearlies came in force and had a sing-song round the joanna.

And then there was the ‘Free Hackney Movement’ (aka Space Hijackers) who brought some serious politics to the event along with a ‘tank’. Here’s what I wrote about them in 2008:

The Free Hackney protest sees London 2012 as a great opportunity for property developers to rip us off and make obscene profits building luxury flats in the area, while at the same time restricting public access, closing down the existing free facilities and demolishing social housing and local businesses. So far its hard to argue against their case given the closure of local sports facilities including the closure of the Temple Mills cycle circuit and the removal of the Manor Gardens allotments and the wholesale clearance of small local firms which were based on Stratford Marsh

In 2008 I commented “The Olympic development has so far been something of a catastrophe for the area, and a lot has to be done to recover from this, let alone produce a positive outcome for the area.” Unfortunately most of what has been done since has borne out the fears and predictions that were made by the Free Hackney Movement and others back in 2008. London 2012 was a bonanza for the few but disrupted the lives of many in the three boroughs.

More at:
Hoxton Handover – 1948 Street party
Free Hackney Movement
Hackney Council Hoxton Handover


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.


More from May Days: 2010

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

Perhaps because in 2010 May Day was a Saturday and an election was coming up in five days time there were more things than usual happening as well as the usual Trade Union & Socialist May Day March from Clerkenwell Green. This had its usual mix of communist and socialist groups from London’s various communities along with trade unions, campaign groups and others but with a strong anarchist bloc, including the Black Horse of Anarchy and an executioner.

Among the trade union groups were the National Union of Sex Workers.

While the official TUC rally took place in Trafalgar Square I joined the May Day ElectionCarnival in Parliament Square. There the Black Horse of Anarchy which had marched from Clerkenwell with an effigy of Nick Griffin was joined by the three other Horses of the Apocalypse which had made shorter journeys from the Westminster campaign headquarters of the three political parties, bringing with them effigies of Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

There was an extremely crowded and rather confused series of executions with plenty of gore, not easy to photograph, though I took rather a lot of pictures.

The sky turned black but the storm held off for the heads of class traitors to be exhibited on poles

and the Space Hijackers to finally arrive with their ‘Spoil Your Vote Campaign Bus‘, which had been touring London. Their message was clear:

“If voting actually changed anything they would ban it. Did you get to vote on the Iraq war? Did you get to vote about regulations on banking? Did you get to vote on MP’s expenses? Is this a democracy or a bad joke?

Why play by the rules in this farce of an election?

Every spoilt ballot gets counted and shown to the candidates in that constituency, so why not reject the lot of them and tell them what you think with your ballot paper?”

Rhythms of Resistance had made their way from Parliament Square to the Leake Street graffiti tunnel, where the Rave Against The Machine continued in the dry as the storm broke overhead.

Rave Against The Machine
Spoil Your Vote Campaign Bus
May Day Election Carnival
Trade Union & Socialist May Day March


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.


More from May Days: 2007

Saturday, May 2nd, 2020

A fairly random selection of pictures I like from my coverage of May Day events in London in 2007.

Unusually my photographic day began in Whitehall where a small group of what I described as “the more eccentric elements of middle england” had gathered with a horse-drawn hearse and a dragon to take a coffin draped in a St George’s flag to Downing St, celebrating 300 years of union with Scotland by asking for English devolution. On My London Diary I wrote (and all in lower case):

i never did find out what the barnett formula they were against was, but i’m sure that these were people in favour of warm beer, cricket and morris dancing as well as good manners. st george didn’t look like the type to scare dragons (and the dragon wasn’t either scary or easy to photograph.)

but i’ve never really thought of myself as being very english. like most of the english, most of my family came from somewhere else at some time or other. i only knew one of my four grandparents and i’m not convinced she spoke english, but then she didn’t say much either.

apart from my lack of sporting skills i could have qualified for at least two of our national sides (so perhaps after all i could have played cricket for wales.) if i ever think of myself know as having any kind of cultural identity now (and it’s a very un-english thought) it would be as a londoner. maybe

http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2007/05/may.htm

From there I made my way to Clerkenwell for the annual London May Day march, dominated as usual by large groups from London’s ethnic communities.

Also on the march were trade unionists with their banners and campaigning groups such as ‘Stop The War’. Among other groups you can see in my pictures are Chagos Islanders and Gate Gourmet strikers who were protesting at being betrayed by their union, the T&G W U.

The marchers went on as usual to Trafalgar Square where a man stood with a whistle and a sign to welcome them.

I went on to Canary Wharf, where the Space Hijackers, outnumbered around ten to one by police, were holding their ‘Booted and Suited’ party in Reuters Square

And the day ended with a little police sadism:

A police officer applies a dangerous ‘pain compliance’ hold cutting blood supply to the brain of a man who wasn’t resisting arrest, while another officer forces his hand up behind his back. The man was then put in a police van and driven away. He had apparently ignored a police order to move on.

The whole of the Canary Wharf area is one of those increasing parts of the city which are private fiefdoms, with the public only allowed access to serve the needs of capital as workers or consumers. It has its own security service, but on this occasion only their boss, wearing a suit, was in evidence, coming to talk with protesters and police. It dresses its security officers in uniforms which closely resemble those of police officers, in a way that seems to be an offence under the Police Act 1996. Having invited several hundred police officers to the event I imagine they had decided having the security officers there would be too confusing.


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.


May Day

Friday, May 1st, 2020

Today’s May Day will be very different, with no march in London, no meeting in Trafalgar Square and none of the other activities we have seen in recent years. There will be online events, but it really isn’t the same. And I think I will take few if any pictures.

Until 2000, I was working on May Day most years and missed the May Day celebrations, except, when as in 1999 they fell on a weekend. In 2000 things were a little different, and while doubtless the usual trade union celebrations went on, rather more of us gathered in Parliament Square on May Day, a Monday, for an anti-capitalist protest, indulging in a little guerilla gardening. It wasn’t as the BBC and newspapers recorded a riot, but a good-natured protest with people having fun and a little minor law-breaking and only became nasty when the police charged in after windows were broken at a McDonald’s. I went home as I didn’t want to be kettled.

It was 2003 before I returned to photograph May Day events, and I wrote:

may day has perhaps settled into a rather predictable event now. the socialist left – and what is left seems to be a few unions and a number of ethnic communist party groups – march from clerkenwell to trafalgar square, while anti-capitalist protestors do not a lot around town.

My London Diary

and the few images I put on line reflect this. My coverage the following year, 2004, was a little more upbeat, perhaps because I met up again with the Bristol Radical Cheerleaders who certainly livened things up, but also because I was getting better at using a digital camera. But most of my coverage then was still in black and white and I still haven’t added the pictures I said would follow.

I photographed May Day and the march again in 2005, but the highlight of the day was provided by the Space Hijackers who had challenged our 600 odd MPs to an Anarchist Cricket match to be held in Parliament Square.

I wasn’t surprised when no members of the opposing team actually turned up, but their absence didn’t detract from the event.

2006 was perhaps my busiest May Day ever, beginning with the launch of the London Citizens Workers’ Association at Westminster Cathedral, then photographing the London May Day March, which included a strong autonomous anti-capitalist bloc.

Among the speakers at Trafalgar Square, though not on the main platform was Ian Bone of Class War, once labelled the most dangerous man in England, and even at this event attracting considerable police attention.

I went on from Trafalgar Square to the Bank of England where the Space Hijackers were holding their Police Victory Party. Unlike at their cricket match there was a large attendance by the opposition, though they didn’t really join in the party organised for them.

Long Live May Day!


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.