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).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This blog never fails to deliver! Amazing archive work, inspiring