Black History Update 11 August

Saturday  15 August. 11am- 12.15pm. Crossing the Colour Line: Empire, War and Racial Violence, 1900-1925 

Neil Evans’s Zoom  talk focuses on the Cardiff race riots of 1919 but tries to set them in the context of Welsh involvement in the Empire, and the changes in the international situation after the collapse of slavery in the Atlantic world.

Organised by Llafur, the Welsh People’s History Society.  To register go to:

On 1 August Llafur Zoom event involved Chris Evans, Marian Gwyn and Audrey West reflecting on the complex, nuanced relationship of slavery and its connections to Wales, and its importance in present discussions about race, place and identity raised by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Monday 24 August 7.15pm. Slavery and Abolition in Croydon

My Zoom talk for Surrey History Meetup. To join go to:

Saturday 29 August.  11am. Paul Robeson and Wales

Zoom Panel discussion organised by Llafur. The panel includes Tayo Aluko. Details to be posted on to Llafur’s website:

7 September. Deadline for Talks proposals for What’s Happening in Black British History? Transnational Online Workshop 14 October

The North East Slavery & Abolition and State Racism – Truth & Memory

O 6 August I was a member of a discussion panel organised by the Truth and Memory project in South Shields. The  session was recorded and can be seen on You Tube at

The explanation of the video is as  follows.

‘This was a most unique event to delve deep into the upsurge against state racism over the killing of George Floyd in the US, and the unprecedented upsurge against state racism in Britain and the light that has been shone on Britain’s history of slavery and colonialism. The north east is presented as a very historic place in the struggle against state racism, especially in South Shields and the Arab and African Laygate community. Hakim Adi speaks out on the overall struggle and what the people are fighting for now and in the past centuries, and Sean represented really well the whole work that has gone on here under John Charlton (Hidden Chains) and others to try and shine a light on the legacy of slavery and colonialism. Also Keith from the Laygate Arab and African community gave a personal account of his father and mothers experience in the second world war which was so interesting to hear how the state treated our local people here as “aliens” as they fought against Nazi Germany in World War II.’

The text of what I said is at:

The five pamphlets mentioned in my text can be downloaded here:

Part 1 Digging Up the Hidden Chains

Part 2. Black Indies

Part 3 The Day of Jubilee Is Come

Part 4 Black Abolitionists

Part 5 People of African Heritage in the North East

Reading etc

An American Uprising

Kate Werran’s book about the Black American GIs in Britain during the War and the clash between white and black GIs in Launceston was reviewed by Afua Hirsch in The Guardian Review on 8 August. Her final paragraph states: ‘That this racism was allowed to play itself out in Launceston is a satin on the record of the UK government, which failed to protect not only British law but the many black British and colonial subjects who found themselves subject to the hostility of white Americans. For a short while, as this fascinating book recounts, global issues of race politics were concentrated in a  town in wartime Cornwall.’

Hidden Herstory: The Leesburg Stockade Girls

The Black Loyalists

David Olusoga tells the story  in September’s BBC History.

Indian Army in Burma

Jonathan Fennell tells the story of the role of the Indian Army against the Japanese in Burma in the Second World War in September’s BBC History.

How Africans Are Responding to their traumatic histories

Afua Hirsch explores the work of 3 artists in her article The prejudice still surrounding African is absolutely roots in a racist past in September’s BBC History

Touissaint Louverture

James Walvin reviews Sudir Hazareesingh’s book Black Spartacus in September’s BBC History.

Mary Seacole

Bernardine Evaristo explains why Mary Seacole is her History Hero in September’s BBC History

Queen Victoria and Abdul

Shrabani Basu’s book (2017) is now available from for £4.99.

Learie Constantine

Henry Pearson’s book Connie (2017) is available from at £4.99.

Black Americans in Victorian Britain

This book is on special officer from me at £12.99 post free.



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Will Fairfield Halls Redundancy Crisis Trigger Re-think?

All the  32 contracted staff at Fairfield Halls are being made redundant by BH Live as part of a package of about 200 redundancies  across its portfolio of managed entertainment, leisure and sports venues. In addition it will let go its c120 casual workers at the Halls.

BH Live’s financial crisis has been caused by the shutdown of venues because of COVID, the loss of revenue that has resulted, the coming end of the Government financed furlough scheme, and the continued uncertainty as to when venues can fully re-open.

It is further aggravated by the decision of Bournemouth Council’s Cabinet to postpone making a grant of about £9m to help it overcome the COVID crisis impact on its finances.

BH Live’s  Chief Executive hopes that “by making these changes now, we can secure the future of BH Live, and support our recovery which will enable us to continue to play a key role in the communities we serve.”

Once BH Live has no staff at the Halls then the question arises as to who is going to have the responsibility of opening up the building so those companies using it to rehearse have access and operating facilities.

Can A Re-think Open Up Creative New Opportunities?

Perhaps the time has come for a creative re-think for the future of the Halls.

  • If  BH Live goes into administration then will Croydon Council’s Cabinet decide on whether to directly manage the Halls or find another managing agency, the former allowing it to reduce its own planned staffing cuts by transferring people across to an in-house management team?
  • Is there enough space for the Riesco Collection and the Croydon Art Collection and a permanent Museum of Croydon exhibition to be housed in the Halls, adding to the footfall?
  • Is there any further scope for offering specialist and musical companies a home base as currently exists with London Mozart Players and Talawa Theatre, e.g. Chineke! Orchestra?

If the former was possible then the planned re-modelling of the Clocktower could be changed to ensure that the Local Studies/Archives former open shelves collections are  available to researchers,  reducing the delays in ordering material, as well as still enabling temporary special exhibitions to be housed in the Clocktower.

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Croydon Cultural & History Update 8 August


Thursday 13 August. 11-11.40am. Dance Umbrella Presents – Family Creative Dance Workshop with Charlene Low

Sensory Movement and Dance Storytelling for all the family, using everyday household objects


Saturday 15 August. From 4pm. Hip Drop Garden Cookout feat. Trombone Jerome & the Homies

Free live event in the Oval Tavern garden – booking essential either via the Oval Facebook page or by calling 020 8686 6023.


Thursday 27 August Folk at the Oval: Paul Sartin & Sons

Live event in The Oval Tavern garden is ticketed – purchase here. It will also be streamed on Facebook and YouTube and all donations will help support the musicians performing.

Rehearsal Use Of Fairfield Halls

The Agudo Dance Company is rehearsing their new production Carmen at Fairfield Halls. It will be performed in the spring.

Croydon Now and Then On YouTube

Dorinda Neligan Obituary

An obituary published  about Dorinda Neligan, the former head of Croydon Girl’s School and suffragist, has been published on the Museum of Croydon website.

Details about her role in the Croydon suffrage movement can be read about in my pamphlet.

The QUEER + Croydon On-Line Exhibition

Jon Brown discusses the research he undertook for the Museum of Croydon QUEER+ Croydon exhibition.

Roots and Branches Collaborative Art Exhibition

CNHSS Virtual Exhibition Using John Gent Postcard Collection

Museum Podcasts

Museum Statement On Black Lives Matters

On 2 June the Museum took part in #blackouttuesday to show its  solidarity in response to Black Lives Matter. It issued the following statement:

‘The Museum of Croydon stands in solidarity and in defiance of systemic racism which impacts our communities. We are committed to anti-racism and as a Museum for Croydon we have a duty to ensure the voices of our Black communities are heard. We aim to provide a radical space for everyone and today we provide that space by being silent to amplify the voices of those who have been denied by the colour of their skin.

Museums have a role to play in questioning, provoking and providing a space for debate and most importantly learning from the mistakes of the past and present to better our futures. Black Lives Matter.’

This is all very well, but the Museum needs to do more to promote Croydon’s Black History, on its website and in future exhibitions, like the one submitted by the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Network  but not accepted for the programme of exhibitions in the Clocktower spaces which had to be shelved because of COVID.

Museum Blogs

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Croydon News Update 8 August

COVID Related News

2nd COVID Edition Of Your Croydon magazine

The Council is to be congratulated again for publishing and distribution another COVID edition  of Your Croydon magazine containing information about what’s on this summer – online and outdoors-, and the latest information on council services. You can also read it on line.

Leader Appeals for Respect Of Our Parks

Council leader Tony Newman writes:

‘If you are heading out to enjoy our parks in the sun, please respect them – put your litter in a bin, or if the bin is full, take your rubbish home with you.  Launched last week, our Respect Your Parks campaign has been sharing stories from residents of all ages about what their local green spaces mean to them – they’ve been a lifeline for so many, so let’s all do our bit to protect them. Follow us on social media to see some of their stories – you can see our post with some of our young people, Tyler and Amira-Lee here.  And if you’d like to be involved and tell us why you love your local park, message

Croydon Council Error Over Social Media

The Council has made a fundamental error in publicising videos on Your Croydon which are only accessible via Twitter. Large numbers of residents are not on Twitter.

COVID Business Discretionary Grant Fund

Croydon Digital

Earlier in the COVID crisis the website of Croydon’s Digital Community urged that used tech be donated for children, young people and older people in need to help keep Croydon Connected. This needs to continue.

Planning & Development News

Brighton Rd Development Approved

Despite 143 public objections the Planning Committee on 30 July approved a four to eight-storey building at 443A Brighton Road, the premises of the Robins and Day car dealership.

Builders Keir Appointed For Two Schools

Kier has been appointed to build the Council’s planned Addington Valley, special educational needs school in New Addington and to refurbish Park Hill Junior School.

Croydon Partnership Fails To Update its Website

The Croydon Partnership of Hammerson and Westfield has failed to up-date its website about the future of the Westfield shopping centre scheme. The last posting on 2 March states: can be read here:

‘The challenges in the retail industry are affecting developments across the UK. Despite this, the Croydon Partnership recognises the opportunity to create a vibrant, mixed-use development for Croydon.

We are reviewing the development to ensure it meets the future needs of the community, including a viable mix of retail, dining, leisure and uses such as a hotel, offices and residential space.’

For the full statement see:

General News


Annual Electoral Registration Begins


Croydon launches 24-hour helpline with Stop Hate UK


Council Consults On Autism Strategy 2020-2024

Do you have ideas about how the Council and its partners can  work better with people with autism and their communities? If you have please complete the survey at

Are Low Traffic Neighbourhoods Viable?

The Crystal Palace Low Traffic Neighbourhood group has been set up.

Such neighbourhoods are groups of residential streets, bordered by main roads, where ‘through’ traffic is discouraged or removed to make it safe to walk and cycle.

Comment: A key question seems to relate to whether residents will be able to drive and park in the streets they live in. Ideas for installing speed cameras are limited because Government legislation does not allow Councils to install speed cameras anywhere unless there have been three people killed or seriously injured.

Appeal For Life-Saving Bleed Kits

Yemi Hughes’s son Andre Aderemi, 19, was chased, beaten and hacked to death with a sword on a local housing estate in August 2016. She is calling for life-saving bleed kits for stab victims to be placed in public spaces.

TV Licences for 75 year olds and older

Croydon based Barry Todman, Secretary of the Greater London National Pensioners Council writes:

‘According to reports I have seen, the BBC is employing Capita to chase up payments for the licence fees for the over ‘75s, when they are reissued in August (assuming it still goes ahead). If their past record is anything to go by, it will probably end up costing the BBC a lot more than they will have anticipated.

The National NPC position is that they won’t encourage anyone to break the law, but it is my guess that there will be a lot of individuals who will initially refuse to pay, and will at least attempt to make it as difficult as possible for collection.’

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Croydon Faces Planning Crisis Thanks To Tory Government

Along with the whole country Croydon faces a crisis over planning and development because of the Government’s proposals for extending permitted development and curbing local consideration of planning applications, and reducing funding from developers for infrastructure. Residents ability to influence planning applications and development changes will be drastically reduced. If the proposals go through then the current Croydon Local Plan process will have to be ripped up. In a tweet Croydon North MP describes the proposals as a ‘ferocious attack on democracy’.

Consultation Ends 29 October

For full details of the White Paper and the consultation that ends on 29 October see:

Preliminary Analyses

Preliminary analyses can be seen at:

Much of the property industry will be welcoming the proposals:

Campaign For Directly Elected Mayor Undermined

Those Residents Associations which have signed up to the campaign for a directly elected Mayor may now feel that they have been betrayed by Croydon South MP Chis Philp. There are twelve weeks of consultation on the White Paper. It is imperative that as many Residents Associations make submissions to the consultation, preferably as a collective, and support  petitions to the Government against the proposals.

What have RAs been doing?

The activities of the Residents Associations across the Borough seem to have been very variable. Many have not updated their websites during the COVID crisis. Some have posted updates on planning issues in their neighbourhoods, and some promote the directly elected Mayor campaign. Particularly useful to all is the Tips and Guidelines for Planning Applications in Riddlesdown updated 1/6/20 at:

You can see the variety in relation to the following

Croham Valley:

Hartley & District:

Monk’s Orchard includes an August planning update

Pollards Hill:

Purley & Woodcote:

includes feedback on Park Hill Park consultation.

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Hiroshima Never Again On-line Concert 6 August


Further details at People’s Music Network for Songs of Freedom and Struggle:

Singers include:

TAYO ALUKO – The Little Girl Of Hiroshima

PEGGY SEEGER – How I Long for Peace

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Windrush Foundation Zoom with Nairobi Thompson Tonight

Nairobi Thompson 4th August 2020_R2

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Black Shamrocks – the Space Between Black and White – growing up 1950s to 70s


Two books explore the experiences of two ‘mixed-race’ activists Gus Nwanokwu and Esuantsiwa Jane Goldsmith: Black Shamrocks and The Space Between Black and White.

Black Shamrocks

‘While many academics and social scientists have examined the psychological and societal implications of growing up as a mixed-race person, few works exist that chronicle the actual lived experience of navigating life while juggling two cultures and racial identities.

Gus Nwanokwu seeks to fill this literary void with Black Shamrocks, a powerful memoir of life as a half-Nigerian and half-Irish boy in London in the 1960s and 70s.

The son of a Biafran-Nigerian father and an Irish mother, Nwanokwu experiences from a tender age the harsh realities of racism, classism, and anti-immigration sentiments and bigotry in post-colonial England.

Despite the high hurdles and the abject poverty into which he and his siblings were born, Nwanokwu rises above the challenges, pursues an education, and spends his life giving back as a teacher and contributing to the betterment of society.

With keen insights about the nature of the challenges he faced, Nwanokwu’s coming-of-age memoir deftly explores his attempts to balance black and white, poverty and pride, love and violence, irreverence and respect, joy and pain, justice and injustice, and misery and satisfaction against the backdrop of a rapidly changing world.’

Gus lives in Croydon.

His sister is Chi Chi, founder of the CHineke! BAME orchestra.

The Space Between Black and White

In this memoir Esuantsiwa Jane Goldsmith sheds light on her journey as a feminist and political activist. ‘The book illuminates her inner journey of self-discovery and uncovers truths that could help a growing community of mixed-race people struggling to find their own space in the world.’

Raised in 1950s South London and Norfolk with a white, working-class family, Esua’s education in racial politics was immediate and personal. From Britain and Scandinavia to Italy and Tanzania, she tackled inequality wherever she saw it, establishing an inspiring legacy in the Women’s lib and Black Power movements.

Plagued by questions of her heritage and the inability to locate all pieces of herself, she embarks on a journey to Ghana to find the father who may have the answers.

A tale of love, comradeship, and identity crises, Esua’s rise to the first Black woman president of Leicester University Students’ Union and Queen Mother of her village, is inspiring, honest, and full of heart.’

Published by Jacaranda. Paperback. £8.99.

Esua lives in Tooting and has organised the Black Lives Matters meetings on Tooting Common. He grandfather knew John Archer, Battersea’s Bajan-Irish Progressive and Labour movement activists, Mayor 1913-14, and key figure in North Battersea’s Labour Party from 1918-his death in 1932.

Geoff Simmons of the Summerstown182 project in Tooting has been talking about aspects of Wandsworth and Merton’s Black History at the BLM meetings using my material.

For one aspect of Tooting’s Black history see:

My biography of John Archer can be ordered at:


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Truth & Memory. History and Struggle V. State Organised Racism – 6 August Zoom

Truth & Memory. History and Struggle

Against State Organised Racism in Britain

Thursday August 6. 6.30pm-8pm. Zoom discussion

This Zoom ‘meeting will address the present upsurge against the racist state

attacks in the US sparked recently again by the murder of George Floyd and

discuss the history and struggle of the people of Britain and the North East

against slavery and racism, as well as the attempt to whitewash this history

of Britain and the role of state racism in attacking the rights of all at home

and abroad.

Panel speakers:

Hakim Adi Professor of History, University of Chichester
Sean Creighton Historian of Black Britain
Keith Hussein Doctor of International Politics & Culture

If you want to take part please email

Roger at

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Croydon General News 1 August

Events This Coming Week


If you want to check the latest Croydon News every day you can subscribe to Now Croydon at

Covington Way Green Space Housing  Approved

Despite local opposition the Planning Committee approved the building by Brick by Brick of a hideous development on most of the green space at Covington.

The Hawthorn Crescent  application in Selsdon was withdrawn from the Committee. However, there is an on-going treat to several green spaces in Selsdon. See:

We have been warned. Every similar space the Council owns could be handed over to Brick by Brick. See my discussion on the issue at

Building Development News

Selhurst Residents Oppose 12-storey Brick by Brick Tower

New Manager For West Croydon Zodiac Project

Funding New Religious Buildings £1.1m Loan To Charis House

Charis House (previously Grace Tabernacle) has received a £1.1m loan from Unity Trust Bank to renovate a derelict print works on Grenaby Road into a new community centre in Croydon. £1.5m needs to be raised to build the proposed new mosque in Purley which has received planning permission.

Other News

Croydon Building Society Branch Thank Community For Help

Money has been raised through activities including colleague fundraising, public donations and donations from Yorkshire Building Society for its End Youth Homelessness (EYH) partnership. The Society’s branch on George Street, has raised £1,148 for EYH in the three and a half year partnership that has helped over 455 young people and 95 dependent children into their own rented homes.

Police Raid Cannabis Factory Operation

The police discovered a cannabis factory and recovered a suspected firearm and two stolen vehicles during warrants to look for firearms at eight residential addresses in Croydon and Bromley on Thursday.

Croydon Culture and History News

Croydon Music Forward Strategy

Croydon Music and Arts (CMA) is currently working up a delivery plan that responds to Arts Council’s Ten Year Strategy aspiration “to plan, resource and deliver a joined-up cultural education programme” for every child. In the latest Croydon Culture Network Newsletter (29 July) Ciara Brennan, CMA Programme Manager, looks forward ‘to further discussion with culture network members to explore how we can work together to meet the needs of our young people with a brilliant, joined-up, local cultural education programme for Croydon. Feel free to get in touch if you want to find out more.

Croydon History

Kake is stopping updating their London Road Past and Present series
until next year because they are unable to undertake the research needed
because of COVID. (Amended wording at request of Kake 11 August.)

Tania Rahman writes on Saxon Croydon at:

Seldson Wood. A perfect place for a picnic

Black Shamrocks

I am not sure how many people know about the book Black Shamrocks by Croydon resident Gus Nwanokwu, which chronicles his  experience as a half-Nigerian and half-Irish boy in London in the 1960s and 70s,  juggling two cultures and racial identities, amid the harsh realities of racism, classism, and anti-immigration sentiments and bigotry in post-colonial England.

While Gus became a teacher, his sister, Chi Chi became a classical musician and founder of the Chineke! BAME orchestra.

The China Problem

For Croydon supporters of action to protect human rights, the Government’s recent actions against China probably smack of hypocrisy. Britain’s has a long history of stamping on human rights across the world, and denying people even today basic human rights, as evidenced for example in the Windrush Scandal. Therefore the challenge is what can be done here in Croydon.

Croydon Council could make it clear that it will not welcome investment from any more mainland Chinese companies. As far as is known  only one has an investment in the Borough, the Guangzhou-based property developer R&F Properties, which purchased the Nestle Tower and the St. George’s Walk area complex in 2017. It has been converting the Tower into flats, and has demolished most of the site prior to building its new complex of uses including a public square opposite the Town Hall.

The company’s  purchase of the site was welcome to the property industry, including Tom Lickley of Develop Croydon.

A different angle about Chinese investment was taken up by The Daily Mail back in 2014:  ‘The REAL reason your children can’t afford to buy their own house: How China’s  middle classes are snapping up British homes from Liverpool to Croydon before they’re even built’.

The Council could try and get the company to agree that it will not market the flats being built in mainland China, and if they are marketed in Hong Kong, sales should only be to residents of Hong Kong who are eligible to move to Britain under the British Government’s proposals.

Amnesty International’s Assessment of Human Rights in China last year can be read at

A German report provides evidence about the abuses.



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