Tuesday, January 27, 2015

An anti-Jewish/pro-Nazi doctor from New Cross: 1943

On Holocaust Memorial Day 2015, the presence of elderly survivors at events at the Imperial War Museum and elsewhere is a reminder that the terrible time of the Shoah is still within living memory for some. Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz, others would like us to forget it, or to relativise away the systematic mass murder of millions by reducing it to the status of just another atrocity amongst many.

Holocaust Memorial Day at Imperial War Museum SE1 today
(photo by Barbara Miller on twitter )
Meanwhile anti-semitism certainly hasn't gone away. Only two weeks ago, four people were killed in an attack on a Jewish supermarket in Paris, and this week the neo-nazi Golden Dawn won more seats in the Greek general election. At the 'softer' end, old anti-Jewish conspiracy theories get recycled all over the place and tolerated on the left as well as the right. Last summer in Lewisham, a supposed radical community activist took to twitter to denounce the 'Jewish Lobby' that 'controls [the] media' and 'UK government'. Was he disowned by his political party? Nope.

The role of Britain, along with Russia, USA and other allies, in helping to defeat the Nazi regime in the Second World War shouldn't obscure the fact that there has been a strong current of anti-semitism in Britain for the best part of a thousand years (witness the infamous pogrom in York in the 12th century).

I recently came across a story from the Second World War of a doctor from New Cross being court martialled for pro-Nazi outbursts:

 Yorkshire Evening Post - Friday 02 April 1943

'Captain William John Mitchell, R.A.M.C. (29), formerly in practice as a doctor in the New Cross area, London, appeared at a court martial at Broadstairs, Kent, to-day, on three charges alleging conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline. It was alleged that in a public house the man said. "I give you a toast. We will drink to the health of Sir Oswald Mosley." When the licensee's wife declined, it was alleged he said, "Why not? He's a wonderful man. If you have cancer, a doctor would cut it out. That is what the Germans are doing to the Jews in Germany. Germany is a most cultured nation." 

The second charge alleged that in another public house, accused said, "Hitler is doing the right thing having the Jews put out of the way. Churchill is hand in glove with the Jews, and not fit to be Prime Minister. Mosley is the man for that job." 

In court, Mitchell said, "I am convinced I am the victim of Jewish persecution. No punishment in the world can erase those views from my mind".

Mitchell also claimed that the Beveridge health proposals - that became the National Health Service - were a Jewish plot: "I know in this country the Jews are trying to get control of the medical profession. The system outlined in the Beveridge Report is merely a system to make the medical profession this country safe for Jewry."

The court martial dismissed Mitchell from the service (Hartlepool Mail - Friday 07 May 1943) and I am not sure what became of him,  other than a press report I found from 1949 of Dr. William John Mitchell of Queens Road, New Cross being charged with a motoring offence (Kent & Sussex Courier - Friday 09 September 1949).

Intriguingly another New Cross doctor of a similar name stood for election for the National Front in 1979, as discussed at Transpontine previously: 'Dr Robert Mitchell, who has a surgery in Queens Road, said yesterday he would advise his patients against mixed marriages only if asked for advice. He also believed in repatriating black people. Dr Mitchell polled 1,490 votes when he stood as National Front's Parliamentary candidate in Deptford last year'. Lewisham Labour Councillor David Townsend said 'We must take an urgent look at how a doctor with such appalling views can be allowed to practice in such a racially sensitive area as New Cross' (South London Press 22 April 1980).  Captain Mitchell referred to above would have been 65 years old by 1979, so could have still been around. He has a different first name, but could these two Mitchell nazi doctors from Queens Road be related?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Isle of Sheppey talk at Goldsmiths

I know there's a few Isle of Sheppey enthusiasts out there, so thought I would share this poster I spotted at Goldsmiths in New Cross for a talk by Professor Len Platt on 'The Isle of Sheppey: culture, identity and the representation of place'.

The free event on Tuesday 10th February, 4:30 to 6:00pm will feature Len Platt reading from his new work 'drawing on literary, historical and sociological cultures' with a focus on 'the cultural representation of the Isle of Sheppey from the late sixteenth-century to the present'. It takes place on the top floor of the Education Building, which is just up from the library on Dixon Road SE14. Members of the public are welcome - contact m.felix@gold.ac.uk

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hobgoblin to re-open as Rose Inn

The Hobgoblin pub opposite New Cross Gate station has been closed for refurbishment, and it looks like it will be reverting back to its former name of The Rose Inn. I believe the pub owners had to pay an annual fee to the owners of the Hobgoblin brand, Marston's, for the use of the name - and let's face it the Hobgoblin name is a bit 1990s isn't it?

Update 26 January 2015:

The Rose Pub & Kitchen (to give it its full name) opens on Thursday 29 January 2015 at 6 pm, complete with 'pizza from the wood burning oven'. They're also advertising for kitchen porters. It's under the new management of Urban Pubs and Bars, a company set up in 2013 by the founders of Realpubs, Malcolm Heap and Nick Pring.  They also run the Whippet Inn in Kensal Rise and the Old Ship Inn in Hackney.

Monday, January 19, 2015

London Bus Strike- South London Picket Scenes

Thousands of bus workers went on strike for 24 hours last Tuesday (13 January) as part of a campaign to end pay inequality across the company's bus network. 18 bus operators across London pay different rates for the same jobs, with a disparity of over £3 an hour.

There were pickets at all 70 bus garages, including across South London.

Pickets at Norwood garage
Pickets on New Cross Road (photo from @Joe_Dromey)

But the liveliest picket seems to have been in Camberwell, where the presence of a mobile sound system helped create a party atmosphere:

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Peckham 33-45-78 RPM

'Peckham 33-45-78 RPM' is an exhibition celebrating the history of record shops in Peckham presented by The British Record Shop Archive. It is open at 91 Peckham High Street (next to the Peckham Space) and runs until January 29th, 11 am to 6 pm, including weekends - free entry. 

I had a look in yesterday and they've got some great material, with photographs, bags and other memorabilia from some of the 25 or so record shops that have been based in the area at some point over the last 50 years.

Red Records (86 Rye Lane), Reed records (Parkstone Road, off Rye Lane, Maestro Records, 61 Rye Lane)

Advert from Black Music magazine, May 1975 including on right 'Intone Records & Tapes', 48 Rye Lane:
'Rockers dub King Tubby's style. Pre-release and Import Soul'. Intone was run by sound system operator Lloyd Coxsone. DJ John Peel made regular visits to Intone to source reggae tracks for his radio show. The British Record Shop Archive say that reggae 'DJ David Rodigan (MBE) is known to have sold records out of the railway arches in Peckham' and the famous reggae store Dub Vendor, later situated at Clapham Junction, was briefly based in Peckham. Earlier, in the 1950s, Harry Tipple's newsagent in Peckham Park Road had a sideline in Jamaican 45s which you had to make an appointment to see.
Woolworths - the Rye Lane store was one of many across the country where people bought chart hits

Sound Ville Records, Rye Lane Market - reggae singer Winston Groovy once worked there, going on to manage the Muzik City shop in Lewisham Model Market
 If you've got any memories, photographs, flyers or anything else relating to Peckham record shops or related music scenes, the (Peckham-based) British Record Shop Archive would like to hear from you.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Folk on the Water

Folk on the Water is a night of music coming up this weekend on the Minesweeper boat moored at Deptford Creek. They say:

'After the wonderful event we had in November at the Minesweeper in Deptford Creek we thought we would have another! For your pleasure, on the evening of Saturday 17th January 2015 starting at 8pm, we have a lovely line up of talent.

To kick things off we have the wonderful Gemma Khawaja, Norfolk based singer of traditional folk songs.

We shall then proceed to Garry "The Slide Guy" Smith, one of the best slide guitarists you will ever hear. He is that good. We're not laying it on too thick: he is amazing.

The 1st headline artist of the evening is Robin Grey. Robin is a great folk singer who draws from traditional & contemporary influences to make genuinely likeable original pieces & reworkings of traditional favourites. We are delighted to have him and his band join us on the boat. He is a rising star so catch him now!

The 2nd headline artist of the evening is local hero Andy Hankdog. Andy has run nights in pubs in South London for many a moon: his Easycome is a staple of the Nunhead & Peckham scene. He is a great singer & performer in his own right & we would like for you to hear him.

This party will be held on the Minesweeper on Deptford Creek. There is a suggested donation of £5 to pay the artists & contribute to the upkeep of the boat. If you want to come but feel you can't run to a fiver we don't mind: just give what you feel like is a fair concessionary rate'.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Vanished City: London's Lost Neighbourhoods

Coming up at South East London Folklore Society next month, a talk by writer Thomas Bolton - 'Vanished City: London's Lost Neighbourhoods':

'London is in a state of constant transformation, layer upon layer built up over centuries of destruction and reconstruction. There is so much change all around us that we scarcely notice it, but among the areas now vanished and forgotten are some of the city’s most famous, and infamous, neighbourhoods.

These include the most feared neighbourhood in the Western world, London’s first Olympic Park, its first port, the original Grub Street, a high society spa resort, an occult square, a landscape of ancient, mythical kings, a notorious slum, and the streets stalked by the first London serial killer. Through these streets crowd the Earl of Essex, Christopher Marlowe, Charles Dickens, Alexander Pope, Emmanuel Swedenborg, Aleister Crowley, Greta Garbo, Fu Manchu, the Ancients of Norton Folgate and the possessors of 8,000 unidentified corpses'.

Tom Bolton is the author of London's Lost Rivers, A Walker's Guide (2011).

The talk is on Thursday, February 12 at 8:00pm upstairs in the Old King’s Head Pub, The King’s Yard, 45 Borough High Street SE1 1NA.  Entrance is £3/1.50 concs. To avoid disappointment you can email nigelofbermondsey@gmail.com to book in advance.

(facebook details here)

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Crisis Book Sale at Telegraph Hill Centre

There's a book sale this Saturday 10 January, 2 pm to 5 pm, at the Telegraph Hill Centre, Kitto Road SE14 5TY. Lots of books at bargain prices in aid of homeless charity Crisis

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

A school trip to Lewisham Arcadia (1905)

Just over a hundred years ago, children from the 'dingy streets' of Southwark went on country outings to 'the Londoner's idea of Arcadia' - Lewisham!. This report from Gloucester Citizen - (Saturday 8 July 1905) describes a trip from Lant Street County Council School, Borough (now Charles Dickens Primary School) to meet their counterparts at Plassy-Road School, Catford, for 'cricket and other sports' at Ladywell Recreation Ground.