Monday, June 22, 2020

Deptford Colour Bar 1958

Today is Windrush day, commemorating the arrival of Jamaican migrants in Britain on the Empire Windrush on this day in 1948 and the wider impact of people of Caribbean origin in this country.

The recent plight of some of these migrants in the Windrush scandal has rightly been condemned, but the fact is that generation faced racism from the moment they stepped onto British soil. This shameful, but not untypical example, is from Deptford in 1958. The landlord of The Robin Hood and Little John pub, Peter Sparkes defended his policy of a  'no drinks for coloured people' on the basis that 'My customers just don't like coloured people'. Condemning this 'pub colour bar', Deptford Labour MP Leslie Plummer noted that there were 'several hundred West Indians living in Deptford' (The People,  13 July 1958).

The pub was in Deptford Church Street. It closed in 1970 and was demolished in 1977.

This was not an isolated example - as late as 1965 there were demonstrations outside the Dartmouth Arms in Forest Hill against a similar ban on serving drinks to black people (see previous post on this).

Saturday, June 06, 2020

Black Lives Matter at Telegraph Hill Park

The railings around Telegraph Hill lower park in New Cross - specifically on Erlanger Road and Kitto Road SE14 - currently feature cardboard placards from the latest phase of the Black Lives Matter movement that has exploded worldwide following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

It's not just in the USA that people of colour have died at the hands of the state, which is why the movement has gained such global traction. A whole section of the fence in Erlanger Road includes placards each with the name of somebody who has suffered in Britain.

The names include, among others,  South London reggae MC Smiley Culture who died in disputed circumstances in a 2011 police raid and Cherry Groce who was disabled for life after being shot during the 1985 police raid that sparked the Brixton riots of that year. 

Remembered too is Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian electrician shot dead by police at Stockwell station in 2005.

The current wave of protests in Britain really got going last Saturday (May 30th) when hundreds of people marched down Rye Lane and on to Peckham Rye. The movement returns to South London tomorrow, Sunday June 7th, with a planned demonstration at the US Embassy in Battersea from 2 pm.