Tuesday, October 25, 2022

South London Gas Protests 1936

Unaffordable gas prices... boycotts... mass protests. Yes all this was happening not just now but back in 1936. The South Metropolitan Gas Company in the Old Kent Road supplied gas across South London and in that year brought in a new scale of charges which critics argued meant that the 'poor are to pay more and the better to do will reap the benefit... A boycott has been discussed and it already it is apparent that large numbers of consumers are putting this threat into effect'. From the starts, women were at the forefront of the movement - the New Cross Women's Co-operative Guild put forward a demand that  'the question of the price of gas be reconsidered and adjusted on the basis of a flat rate per therm whatever the consumption' (Daily Herland 18/9/36)

Demonstrators marched to the HQ of the Gas Company in a series of protests. The Daily Mirror reported that on 30 September 1936 10,000 took part in a demonstration - ''the street was blocked and the crowds sang to pass the time. Hundreds signed a petition of protest. Police had to divert traffic'

Daily Mirror, 1 October 1936

A week later 'Several thousand demonstrators from Deptford and Camberwell marchds to the head offices of the South Metropolitan Gas Company in the Old Kent Road to protest against the new charges. One speaker, amid applause, urged housewives to refuse to burn gas for at least s day' (Daily News, 8/10/36). A banner read 'Down with the new gas charges, we fight to win'. 

'Gas protest by women marchers', Daily News, 8 October 1936

Then after another week, the Gas Company announced it was scrapping its new charging structure. As well as street protests they had faced opposition from South London MPs and Councils, including Deptford. On the day the decision was announced 'To the swirling music of bagpipes played by kilted men, 250 South London housewives, many carrying banners' marched again on the offices (Daily Herald 15/10/36).

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Chinese protest posters in New Cross

A series of protest posters have appeared around New Cross with the hashtags #FreeChina #EndDxicatorship (referring to  Chinese leader Xi Jinping who has just had his position extended to a third term)

'No obedience, no patriarchy, no police violence'

Support for Peng Lifa, who was arrested after staging a one person banner protest in Beijing last week

'No more fear, we can do this'

These photos were taken on the streets of SE14, CNN has featured similar posters put up at Goldsmiths College

Update 8 December 2022 (all from Goldsmiths):


'we stand with Uyghurs; we stand with Iranian women'

'Stand with uyghurs, stand with tibet, stand with hong kong, stand with taiwan, stand with iranians, stand with ukraine, stand with all peoples resisting dictatorship oppression and violence'

'we want freedom, we want food on our tables, we want to breathe, we want art, we want democracy, we want to love, stand with chinese people'


Monday, October 10, 2022

Green Guide to London: vegetarian food & bikes in 1990

 Being vegetarian/vegan back in 1990 wasn't quite as easy as it us today. Supermarkets had restricted  options, and many cafes and restaurants were similarly limited. Enter 'The Green Guide to London' written by Bill Breckon and published in association with Friends of the Earth. The 'comprehensive handbook for all environmentally aware Londoners' included, among other things, vegetarian and wholefood friendly shops and eating out places.  

Here's a few extracts from the Inner South West and Inner South East sections of the book.

Few of these places are still there with Brixton Wholefoods and Fareshares Food Co-op in Crampton Street SE17 among the survivors. Many more are fondly remembered.  The Brockley Bean has been mentioned here before, but who recalls Bean Thinking in Greenwich, Well Bean in Blackheath,  Nosebag Wholefoods SE18 or  The Veggy Table/Veganomics in Lewisham? What about Cross Currants in New Cross Road, Nunhead Deli and Wholefoods in Evelina Road or Full of Beans in Rushey Green?  Seemingly there were a lot of beans to be had! I was very fond of the vegetable patties at the Jacaranda Garden by Brixton Rec.

Bike shops were also listed:

South West London bike shops 1990

South East London bike shops 1990

Sunday, October 02, 2022

Come Dine in Blue

'Come Dine in Blue'  at hARTslane Gallery in New Cross (next to Sainsburys) is a participatory art project created and produced by Tisna Westerhof & Cristiana Bottigella. As part of the Lewisham Borough of Culture, more than 100 participants of all ages, from 8 different Lewisham based community groups took part in 'a year-long art programme aiming to investigate and bring to light the diversity of cultural heritage in Lewisham, giving voice to five different communities of people who left their country to find new homes in the UK: the Asian and the Latin-American communities of New Cross; first and third generation African and Afro-Caribbean Lewisham residents and Middle Eastern refugees'.

The outcome is a 'Blue and White dining room installation telling stories of identity and belonging' centred around a dining room table with ceramics as well as tea towels and other works. It really is very moving with objects embodying people's memories and journeys.

'No one can take away the dances you've already had'

The exhibition continues until 6 October 2022. If you miss it try and get hold of the excellent book that accompanies it.

Saturday, October 01, 2022

Enough is Enough

In our latest round up of radical messaging from the streets of SE London it's no surprize to see the cost of living crisis taking centre stage.

'Don't Pay' stickers and posters have been ubiquitous recently, as the movement to encourage people who can't/won't pay their rocketing energy bills steps up. 

Don't pay poster in Catford shopping centre

Don't pay sticker in SE14

As part of a national day of action on October 1st (a day also marked by rail and post office strikes), Don't Pay Lewisham organised a burning of energy bills by Lewisham Town Hall in Catford:

'Trickle down is a lie, profits rise while people die'

The tax cuts for the wealthy mini-budget in September has also prompted opposition from local cats..

'F**k the fat cats', phone box in Jerningham Road SE14

'Liz Truss - tax cats for the fat cats' in New Cross

'Liz Truss wants the poor to pay'

'say no to Tory tax cuts' - Wonder if Liz Truss will notice this road sign on New Cross Road on her way from Greenwich to Westminster?
(interesting use of vinyl lettering and cat cut outs)

'Billions wasted on inadequate ppe contracts and track and trace to his mates, an insulting 3% rise to NHS staff' (posters in Brockley seemingly dating from the Boris Johnson days)

'Enough is Enough - General Strike Now' - on Bermondsey Cycleway 10

Of course the climate crisis isn't going away either - an upside down Penelope Cruz seems to be lending her head to 'Just Stop Oil' thanks to this poster on film poster montage in Queens Road, Peckham.

The far right might be on the rise in many parts of the world. but London Anti Fascist Assembly are on alert in SE14:

Update 12 November 2022:

A new Prime Minister but not much else has changed. The New Cross Road sign has been through several iterations with its ongoing commentary on the political landscape. Latest is 'General Election Now' ('Rishi Sunak has too much money' underneath in smaller lettering).

'Tax the rich' outside Goldsmiths

'the Tories are dismantling the NHS'

See related posts: