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).

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