The Insider London Blog
The latest insider info on great places to be and exciting happenings around London.
The tabloid press likes to refer to almost anything in Britain that it doesn’t like as being fascist (I’ve read of fascist postmen, fascist nurses and even fascist lollipop ladies), and this has to some extent rendered the term redundant. However, actual fascism, as in that which we attribute to have started in political form in Italy in 1921, is generally thought to have by-passed Britain when it spread its ugly wings throughout Europe. This is not necessarily the case. Interwar British fascism did manifest itself, and met its most famous resistance in the East End of London.
The British Union of Fascists (referred to as the BUF and also ‘Blackshirts’ due to the political uniform worn by its members), led by the gifted orator and former labour MP Sir Oswald Mosley, formed in 1932, and in 1934 began to develop a noteable following, not least because of the backing of the Daily Mail for a short time (Something you won’t find in any of their commemorative books), and to a lesser extent the Daily Mirror. Though the BUF never genuinely threatened electorally, it did undeniably have support, as testified by the nearly 10,000 people that attended a BUF rally at Olympia in April 1934.
Cable Street, a mile-long road that today stretches from Tower Hill through Shadwell to Limehouse, was, on October 4 1936 the site of perhaps the BUF’s greatest and most well-publicised defeat. The BUF, with the supervision of the Metropolitan Police, had planned to march through the East End of London. Inspired by Mussolinian fascism, Mosley was attracted to the demonstration of power, unity and symbolism of such marches. Mosley’s rhetoric was increasingly anti-semitic (having established a certain amount of sympathy amongst anti-semitic elements in this part of the capital), and the East End had a large Jewish population. Thus, the Jewish community were outraged, but were warned against opposing the march. They ignored these warnings.
As did anti-fascists and communists, not just here but all over the country. An astonishing 300,000 of them built barricades out of timber, rubbish and overturned lorries at the west-end of Cable Street. Together they shouted ‘No Pasaran’, the Spanish Civil War slogan meaning ‘They Shall Not Pass’. Women and children threw rotten food, rubbish, marbles, rocks and chair legs at the 10,000 police as they tried to clear a path for the march. They would not pass, and Mosley and his 7,000 Blackshirts were denied a route through, and sent to Hyde Park instead with their tails firmly between their legs. The fact that many BUF supporters went to Hyde Park instead matters little; a march is a symbolic act, and its defeat was by the same token a symbolic defeat.
The BUF continued, with limited success, until the advent of the Second World War when Mosley and many other members were arrested for fear of their co-operation with Germany and Italy. But as a result of this event, the Government introduced the Public Order Act of 1936, which forbade the wearing of political uniforms. The uniform of the Blackshirts defined them, and this was another nail in the coffin of interwar British fascism.
Today there is a red commemorative plaque on the junction with Dock Street, and a large mural on St. George’s Town Hall. If you find yourself anywhere near Cable Street, go and have a look. If you can, stand at the junction with Christian Street at the west-end near Tower Hill station, and imagine those 300,000 building a barricade. It’s easy now to look back and think that standing against fascism was an obvious decision, but it is worth remembering that they did not have our hindsight; this was still a relatively young and unknown political phenomenon.
Dalston offers a great selection of coffee shops, bars, resturants and clubs. But the area actually has a few hidden gems when it comes to shopping. This is the first part in a new series that puts the spotlight on those Dalston-based retail havens. This week we’re starting with the HUH store Dalston.
The HUH store in Dalston is an offshoot of the very popular online arts, culture, fashion, design and lifestyle website of the same name. The store is a carefully curated mix of men’s and women’s clothing with some homeware/accessories.
Speaking to Robyn Ross, Retail Director at the HUH store, she explains the ethos behind the store: “The store basically represents our tastes. We believe in classic, practical and stylish design, no frills. As the store develops we also hope to support new English brands alongside the more established names, creating an interesting and unique shopping experience!”
Opened a year ago by Jack Lowe and Ross, the HUH store was one of the first clothing retailers to open in Dalston. Robyn says of the area: “Dalston has been steadily ‘coming up’ over the past three years or so and we felt it was really the only place to establish ourselves as a current, interesting and different retailer. There’s a great sense of community in the area, as well as a lot of exciting creative opportunities”.
The store has a great mix of brands, and amongst others currently stocks Percival, Libertine Libertine, Norse Projects, Pointer, Herschel and Carhartt. With an offering like this, and the warm and inviting space that the store occupies offering an uncomplicated and stylish place to shop, the HUH. store is definitely worth a visit. Even if it’s just for a chat with Robyn and Jack, whilst you sip one of their excellent Caravan coffees, this Dalston store is a must.HUH Store 56 Stoke Newington Road
N16 7XB www.huhmagazine.co.uk
Unique London Walking Tours > London Tour Blog > Ghosts on the Tube
A gruesome murder. A macabre cover up. These things are not uncommon in London, especially in the days of yore. But when I found out about what happened to Anne Naylor, a sickly girl who worked for a milliner in the late eighteenth century, I had to investigate further. Are there really ghosts on the London Underground? Is there really a Screaming Spectre?
Anne and her sister were apprentices at a milliner’s run by Mrs Metyard and her daughter. The Metyards were the most brutal of taskmasters and when Anne fell behind on her work (which was often, due to her illness) she would be beaten. One day, unable to take it any more, she ran away, hoping to escape the violent torment that defined her life. Watch the video to find out what happened to her….. and what happened to me when I went looking for her some two hundred years later!
Have you heard the Screaming Spectre? Have you seen any other ghosts on the London Underground? Have you got any of your own ghost stories to share? We want to know. And if you want to learn more about ghostly goings on in London, why not join us on our chilling Death & Debauchery walking tour.
- Around the World in 80 Minutes
- East London
- Green London
- London Pubs and nights out
- London Street & Graffiti Art
- London Underground/Tube
- Modern Architecture
- Quirky, weird and bizarre London
- Retail Store Design
- Sustainable Architecture
As well as tours for couples and private groups, we've delivered tours for...
Most Popular Posts
- London Street & Graffiti Art Walking Tour
- Quirky London
- Around the World in 80 Minutes - Excuse my French - a trip to South Kensington
- London Underground / Tube
- 24/7 Brick Lane Bagels
- Death and Debauchery
- Sustainable Architecture
- Cocktails at Happiness Forgets
- Boxpark Unstacked
- Future London: The Age of the Skyscrapers