Social Histories of the Russian Revolution

A year-long series of monthly discussion meetings, timed to take place during the run-up to the centenary of Russia’s revolutions of 1917.

Birkbeck, University of London

Full programme and further information:

The organisers William Dixon, Brendan McGeever, Simon Pirani write:

‘Each discussion will be opened by historians, scholars working in academia who have spent many years studying the revolution in the Russian archives. But these are not academic seminars – they are open to all who share our interest in the history of the Russian revolution as a landmark struggle for social liberation. At each discussion there will be an opening talk of about 30 minutes, followed by open debate.

The emphasis in the discussion meetings will be on the social histories of the revolution – that is, how it was experienced by the mass of working people who participated.

By taking this approach we aim not to brush aside the role of political leaders, and their disputes and decisions, but rather to move beyond these well-known debates and reach a deeper understanding of the revolution as the active participation of millions of people in changing history.

We hope that by developing our theme over a year of meetings, we will be able collectively to engage in serious thinking and re-thinking about the revolution and its significance for our past and present.’



Oct 27 – Steve Smith (University of Oxford): The Social History of the Russian Revolution and Civil War, 1917-1921

Nov 24 – Brendan McGeever (Birkbeck, University of London): Antisemitism and Revolutionary Politics in the Russian Revolution, 1917-1919

Dec 15 – Andy Willimott (Reading University): Living the Revolution: Urban Communes in 1920s Russia and the Invention of a Socialist Lifestyle


Jan 26 – Sarah Badcock (Nottingham University): The 1917 Revolutions at Local Level

Feb 23 – Katy Turton (Queens University, Belfast): Women in Revolt: the Female Experience of the 1917 Revolutions

March 16 – George Gilbert (Southampton University): The Radical Right and the Russian Revolution

March 30 –Dimitri Tolkatsch (University of Freiburg, Germany): The Ukrainian Peasant Insurgency in the Revolutionary Period

April 27 – Chris Read (Warwick University): The Social History of the Revolutionary Period

May 25 – Barbara Allen (La Salle University, USA): Alexander Shlyapnikov and the Russian Metalworkers in 1917

June 29 – Don Filtzer (University of East London): The Working Class and the First Five-year Plan, 1928-32

Sep 28 – Wendy Goldman (Carnegie Mellon University, USA): Taking Power: Remaking the Family, Levelling Wages, Planning the Economy

Oct 12 – Lara Cook (University of York): Local Soviets in 1917-18 and their Relations with the Central Executive Committee

Oct 26 – 1917 A Century On: A Debate (Speakers TBC, including Simon Pirani (author of The Russian Revolution in Retreat 1920-1924)

Nov 23 – Gleb Albert (University of Zurich): Early Soviet Society and World Revolution, 1917-27


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History Events & News at 28 August


Croydon’s Library Heritage

Using the 1931 opening of Norbury Library I discuss the pioneering role of Croydon’s Libraries and its significnace for the future.

Samuel Coleridge Taylor Network website

Updated today and includes Newsletter 44 – August

Thursday 22 September. 1pm.  Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Talk by his biographer Jeff Green.

Black Cultural Archives, 1 Windrush Square. or phone 020 3757 8510/8511.

Sunday 16 October. 12-5.30pm “It’s the Economy, Stupid” – A Day of Economic Thought

Independent Working Class Education (ICWE) day school

Sessions including: What is Neo-Liberalism Free Trade- Freedom or race to the bottom Everything you wanted to know about economics, but were frightened to ask – panel discussion Tickets: £5 from

Philadelphia WMC, Upperthorpe, Sheffield

Followed by

7-11pm. Songs of Social Significance. David Rovics: Letter to my Landlord – World Tour. Plus Politics; plus poetry and dancing

Organised by Independent Working Class Education Network, Momentum Sheffield, Sheffield Trades Council

Tickets: £10 waged £5 unwaged

Pay on the door

Working Class Movement Library (Salford) Events

14 Sept.  Granville Williams: Pit props: music, international solidarity and the 1984/85 miners’ strike.

28 Sept.  Ray Physick: The Olimpiada Popular of 1936 and the worker sport movement in the inter-war years.

4 Oct. Race, racism and the working class struggle

Talk by Lou Kushnick, founder of the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource.

12 Oct.  Katrina Navickas: Protests and public space in Lancashire and Yorkshire in the age of radicals and the Chartists, 1789-1848.

26 Oct. Nicole Robertson: “Organise, educate and agitate”: trade unionism and office workers in Britain, 1914-39.

9 Nov. Mervyn Busteed:  Engels, the Burns Family and the Manchester Irish.

23 Nov: Malcolm Pittock:  Albert Evans, Bolton WW1 conscientious objector.

Full details of the talks can be found at All welcome, admission free, light refreshments after.

Race and Representation in Shakespeare

Film of Burt Caesar, actor and presenter in discussion with actor Hugh Quarshie.

The Reparations Debate

Tales from the Olympia

Black London blogs at

Jeff Green’s Latest Postings

166: Arthur Edgar Massey (1870-1935), poet and evangelist

167: ‘Blind Tom’ the musical phenomenon in Britain 1866-1867

168: West Country Blacks in Victorian Times

169: A Black Gay Hustler, London 1838

170: Amusing the children?

171: A ‘black’ presence in Victorian folk culture.

172: The Jubilee Singers as a financial venture – 1886-1889

The Past and Present of London Rd Croydon: 99-101

Development of the land now occupied by 99–101 London Road began in the middle of the 19th century with the construction of nine houses, one of which was later occupied by dental reformer and Croydon Mayor Samuel Lee Rymer. All nine houses were gradually swallowed up by the Croydon Co‑operative Society (later the South Suburban Co‑operative Society). The land continues in retail use today, being home to a large Lidl supermarket as well as a gym chain and the South London Employment Tribunal.

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Radical Clapham and Lambeth Heritage Festival – September

Chartist 5a

Tuesday 20 September. 7pm. Clapham’s Radical and Mutual Past

I will be giving a talk about Clapham’s involvements in radical, Chartist, labour and socialist politics as well as mutual organisation in friendly societies and trade unions in the 19th and early 20th centuries as part of Lambeth Heritage Festival. John Watkins, a Chartist activist, lived in Clapham.

Clapham Library, Mary Seacole Centre, 91 Clapham High St, SW4 7DB

This year’s Festival

This year’s Lambeth Heritage Festival is being held throughout September.

For full details see

where you can download the full programme. Here are some highlights.

All month. A Fighters’ Archive

An exhibition of artwork by Wijnand de Jonge commemorating the Black Women’s Movement in Brixton during the 1970s and 80s. 17 bronze casts will be displayed of the clenched fists of influential women involved in the Movement. The work records a fragment of relatively recent social history specific to south London, playing with the concepts of traditional sculpture and the boxer’s archive. Free, no booking required.

During opening hours Lambeth Archives, 52 Knatchbull Rd, SE5 9QY.

All month. From the ‘Black woman of Brixton Causeway’ to Harry Jacobs

Starting with the earliest entries for black people found in Lambeth parish registers through to mid-20th century studio photography, this exhibition uses archival documents and images from the collections of Lambeth Archives to document three hundred years of local black history. Free, no booking required.

Morley College London, 61 Westminster Bridge Rd, SE1 7HT.

Thursday 1 September. 1-2pm. Black Music in London

Lloyd Bradley will be providing insight the research for his book, Sounds Like London. The book tells the story of London music and the larger-than-life characters making it, journeying from Soho jazz clubs to Brixton blues parties to King’s Cross warehouse raves to the streets of Notting Hill and on to sound systems everywhere. £3.00 per person, booking not required.

Black Cultural Archives, 1 Windrush Square, Brixton, SW2 1EF.

Saturday 3 September. 10am-5pm. Lambeth Archives Open Day

This year’s open day features Lambeth’s local societies, a medley of talks and displays at Lambeth Archives and at the nearby Michael Church and Longfield Hall.

Lambeth Archives, 52 Knatchbull Road, SE5 9QY.

Thursday 15 September. 7.30pm. The Dangerous Women of South London

Setting fires, risking lives and imprisonment by challenging authority; these women worked tirelessly in a variety of ways within the suffrage movement to achieve equality with men. Ruth Miller will talk about the role of Emily Leaf from Norwood, and Barbara Thomas will introduce further local campaigners including Leonora Tyson. Free with donations.

Upper Norwood Library, Westow Hill, SE19 1TJ.

Friday 23 September. 11am, 1pm & 3pm. Black Cultural Archives Heritage Centre Tours

Black Cultural Archives, 1 Windrush Sq, Brixton, SW2 1EF

To book a space please email archives@ or phone 020 3757 8510/8511. Booking is essential as places are limited to 20 maximum per group.

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Council seeks more volunteers for libraries

Stimulated by researching the opening of Norbury Library in 1931

see my posting on protecting Croydon’s pioneering libraries at:

We may not know the outcome of the Library Review until the end of the year according to Allan Nimmo, Croydon Council’s Contracts and Development Manager for Libraries, in response to my questioning when the outcome would be going to the Cabinet and whether it will be subject to pre-Scrutiny. He has replied: ‘We are waiting – but still developing ideas – for guidance on what goes where and when. It should be clearer after the summer break.  I suspect we will go to scrutiny first but at this stage we are not sure when. But hopefully by the end of the year. We continue to work with all our libraries to get the best from them  for our entire community.’

Meanwhile Allan has emailed those who responded to the Library Review consultation held earlier this year, and expressed interest in volunteering.

  • 1216 people joined in, of which 167 filled in paper copies.
  • The highest group completing online were the over 65s
  • The highest ward responses were from  – Ashburton, Shirley, Coulsdon East, Addiscombe  and Sanderstead.
  • There were focus groups sessions targeted at groups undertaking other activities- older people at Age UK, English learners at the Clocktower and young people from Croydon Youth Arts Collective, and containing both users and non-users of the existing library service
  • Very useful feedback from children at a local primary school – that was the work I did with Year 6 pupils  at Norbury Manor.

‘All of the feedback we received from the engagement will be used with a range of other information around community needs and current usage to help develop our plans for the future library service.

‘All of the feedback we received from the engagement will be used with a range of other information around community needs and current usage to help develop our plans for the future library service.

‘We have many amazing opportunities for volunteers that can help support our staff and really make a difference to the service we already provide for our customers.

Our wide range of volunteering options include meeting and greeting customers who visit the library – an increasingly important role in tackling isolation and loneliness – supporting adults with IT and writing CVs, helping children with their homework and reading skills, LEGO Education and coding clubs and a wide range of activities aimed at the under-five’s.

But I also know, from your responses, that many of you are interested in developing new activities in your library including specialist book clubs, craft activities and friendship clubs. All would add extra value to the existing services.

We’re looking for more enthusiastic volunteers who are interested in making a positive change in their community. Energetic individuals who can join our existing team of fantastic hard working people and bring added value to our wide range of services.

If you feel this is something you could do then please contact Siobhan Endean our volunteer co-ordinator at for an application form and role profile or pop into your local library to discuss volunteering opportunities in your area.’

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News about Unhappy Croydon at 27 August

Croydon – An Unhappy Place

The results of a recent survey by Rightmove are a challenge to the Council’s Ambition programme, and to all those who believe that Croydon is a good place to live. It may be for them, but not for lots of other people.

It is one of the most miserable of the 32 London Boroughs at 27th, compared with its neighbours  Bromley and Sutton at 3rd and 4th. It is also a Borough where people do not feel safe: it ranks 189th out of 206 in the whole of the UK.  Its 164th for community spirit, 170th as a place which has a sense of belonging and 185th for whether people are friendly. It ranks as 155th for opportunities to develop skills, 160th for essential local services and 178th for nature and green spaces.

The rise in house prices by over 20% in the last year could contribute to making the Borough happier or even unhappier depending on who unhappy homeowners sell to. Will it be to new happy homeowners with enough money to enjoy life in London or outside Croydon? Or will the houses be bought up by buy to let landlords who will pack them with low paid and unhappy tenants?

Matthews Yard seeks Crowdfunding support – again

For Saif Bonar’s explanation see

To donate go to

Controversial Deliveroo launches restaurant service

Fairfield Halls car park closes

As part of the work on the two-year theatre refurbishment Fairfield Halls car park has been closed.

Taberner House Deal

‘Bridges Ventures is kicking off the investment programme for its new property fund with a deal to back Hub on the redevelopment of Croydon council’s former offices.’ Property Week 19 August.

Hammerson and Westfield News

Hammerson hopes to be listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange to access a wider pool of international capital on 1 September.  (Market Watch 19 August). In seeking support from SA investors it has announced that it had a property return of 2.9% in the six months to June, but this is less than the 12.4% for the year to last December. (Investors Monthly). It has delayed the start of work on its Didcot scheme. (Oxford Guardian 25 August).

Due to the 11.4%  fall of the pound sterling since the Brexit vote Westfield reduce its funds forecast. ( 24 August).

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Croydon Events at 27 August

Friday 2 & Saturday 3 September. Public display of new Ashburton Park Library Plans

Tuesday 6 September. 6.30pm. Scrutiny & Overview Committee

The Committee will question Simon Hall, Cabinet member for Treasury and Finance, a report on the state of electoral registration and plans for the 2016-17 canvas, diversity and inclusion. And the report of the mini-review by Councillor Andrew Rendle on Gypsy and Traveller Welfare, and the Committee’s work programme to 31 March 2017.

Committee papers can be seen via

The Council Chamber, the Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon CR0 1NX

Sunday 25 September. Wandle  Community Enabler recruitment deadline

The Living Wandle Landscape Partnership is looking to recruit a community enabler to deliver its  Industrial Heritage Recording project (‘Mapping the Mills’).  The aim is  to stimulate an interest in the rich history of the Wandle through guided walks; these will take in the important features of the industrial river as well as mapping the locations of all the mill sites and the industrial buildings. Further information is available from Louise Crothall, Scheme Project Officer, The Old Book Shop, Morden Hall Park, SM4 5JD.; 07500073162.

Thursday 5 October. 11.30am-2.30pm. How will changes in Croydon’s GP services affect you? Healthwatch Croydon Annual Meeting

Community Space, Bernard Weatherill House, Mint Walk, CR0 1EA.

Please can you book your space via no later than Friday 18 September or telephone 020 8663 5648.

Tuesday 1 November. 6.30pm. Scrutiny & Overview Committee

Question Time with the Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, Cllr Timothy Godfrey.

For a comprehensive listing of events in Croydon see

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History Events & News at 9 August

Saturday 13 August. 3-4.30pm. Living Histories: An Audience With Altheia Jones-Lecointe – A Lifetime In Black Power Politics And Science 

Altheia Lecointe-Jones: a former leading light of the British Black Panther Movement, Mangrove Nine Defendant, Scientist, Medical Doctor, Grandmother, a Septuagenarian still politically active.  For more info or to book:

To hear Elder Altheia and other Mangrove Nine defendants talking about the 1970s court case, go to

Monday 15 August, 12-1.30pm. #BRxBLM Broadcast:

 In the wake of the fifth anniversary of the 2011 riots/uprisings and ongoing unrest in the US, Black Cultural Archives ‘is collaborating with Boiler Room TV to pick apart one of the most important societal issues – racial inequality and police brutality. A panel will come together for an open forum for discussion, focusing solely on how the aforementioned topics affect residents of the UK. This will be mirrored with an event in New York City at a later date.’ You can get involved at#BRxBLM hashtag. See more at:

Friday 9 September. 6.30–9pm. Joseph Bologne: Black Mozart in the white wig

Mixed cultural exploration of the life of Chevalier de Saint-Georges, aka Joseph Bologne (1745 – 1799), the champion fencer and virtuoso violinist and composer.

Victoria & Albert Museum.–Black-Mozart-in-the-White-Wig/dt/2016-09-09/eType/1/free/2

Sam King’s Funeral

Croydon’s Historic Assets

In the light of advice issued by Heritage England I discuss the future of  Croydon’s historic assets at

Gems in Local Histories

I have posted details about some gems at the Penlee House local history display in Penzance.

Pentonville 5 and Cinema Action

Mark Gregory from Australia writes in comment on the blog note about the 28 July Pentonville 5 Meeting:

‘I was a member of Cinema Action when that film was made and my wife Maree Delofski was one of its editors. I have great memories of those times in London when so many workers were involved in a variety of amazing actions to protect jobs and workplaces from the deindustrialisation of the country … The dockers struggle was an example and I had the experience of screening that film in many trade union meetings and participating in so many discussions about what should be done to change and challenge the situation … It was a time of change across the globe that was infectious … The struggle to free the imprisoned dockers and that involved a welsh miners choir singing outside Pentonville Gaol through the night as well as a massive demonstration to welcome the five as they were released the next day … a great victory against the government of the day … I believe that the five dockers would meet each year to watch the film … a film they regarded as their own … I have shown the film in Australia and it always had an enthusiastic reception … btw it was the winner of the prestigious Leipzig Documentary Film Festival and highly praised by one of the judges the veteran Russian documentary film  maker who had edited his work to show local peasants on a special carriage of a train. Medvetkin !!

I remember that for the dockers film we had to get a crane driver to lift the camera and gear onto a ship where we interviewed Berny Steer after we climbed up the gangway.’

Mark is an active historian with the following websites:

Australian folk songs:

Francis MacNamara (1811-1861):

Australian Railway Songs:

William Cuffay:

Kali Dasgupta (1926 – 2005):

Union songs:

Belgian Refugees in First World War

Bill Lawrence, a member of North East Labour History Society, has a chapter about Belgian refugees in a new book ‘Languages and the First World War: Representation and Memory ‘ (Julian Walker & Christophe Declercq. Palgrave Macmillan (ISBN 978-1-137-55035-4). Bill’s chapter is titled Translation, Interpretation and Mistranslation. Bill’s interest stems from the Belgians who came to Birtley. There is also a chapter by Declercq on the Belgians in Britain. For more details and chapter previews go to

North East Popular Politics database update

In the last couple of months I have added the following Topics to the database,

871 Sunderland Petition for City Status 1932

872 Miners and Employers Organisations 1926-27

873 Pegswood Branch- Mineworkers Federation 1926-1929

874 Ashington Mineworkers Minutes 1945-48

875 Northumberland Miners  Strike Records  1984

876 Northumberland Miners Minutes 1903-5

877 Women’s Suffrage in the North East Lisbeth Sim

878 Canon Charles Weston of Durham Cathedral 1731 – 1801

879 Activities on the North East, the Slavery Business and Abolition 2007-16

880 Sunderland’s Town Moor

881 Paul Robeson in the North East

882 Willian Falla Gateshead Gardening Business 1820s-30s

883 Newcastle  Aborigines  Protection Society Meeting August 1838

884 Students from the West Indies and North East England at St John’s College Cambridge 1767-1821

885 Daniel Liddell 1830s-1850s

886 Thomas Dixon 1831-1880

887 Cornsay Colliery Portrait of a Durham Mining Village

888 Teesside Railways

889  Public Health Activity in the North East 1925-6

890 Darlington Biographies

891 Ambrose Crowley/Crawley, Tyneside ironmaster

892 Anthony Morris Storer: Morpeth’s MP 1780-84 and the Storer family of Jamaica and Berkshire

893  John Collingwood Tarleton and the Collingwoods of Upthank

894 The Swymmers, the Bennet/Tankervilles and Jamaica

895  Ladies’ London Emancipation Society 1864-5

896 Ninian Home  – An 18thC  Berwickshire and Grenada Link

897  Biographical Sketches from Welford Vol. 1

898  North East Biography D-N

899  North East Biography O-Z

900 Biographical Material on Americans

901 Biographical Material on West Indians

902 Biography Miscellaneous

There have also been amendments to and additional information added to Topic Nos: 19, 73, 81, 231, 237, 288, 403, 425, 432, 472, 495, 538, 606-10, 624, 640, 643, 650, 813 and 820.

The database can be accessed at

To start using the search facility please read Topic I – Introduction.

Legacies of British Slave-ownership

In the course of these additions and amendments to the NEPPP database, information on slavery business connections in the North East has been shared with the Legacies of British Slave-ownership project team and amendments made to some entries on its database.

Figures of Empire. Slavery & Portraiture in 18thC Atlantic Britain

The Yale University  book on its October to December 2014 exhibition is downloadable at: 

Further details about the exhibition, related events and interviews is at


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