What’s Happening in  Black British History ? VII – October


What’s Happening in Black British History ? VII

Thursday 26th October 

Senate House, University of London

10.00- 10:30 Registration: tea & coffee

10.30- 11:30 Keynote Speaker  David Olusoga

11.30- 13:00  Session One: Broadcasting Black British History

Chair: Jyoti Mheta

Catherine Fletcher (Swansea   University) Broadcasting and the historian

James Van Der Pool (BBC TV Director and Producer) The Making of BBC 2’s series Black and British: Forgotten History

Colin Grant (BBC Radio Producer) The perils of mimicry and minstrelsy in broadcasting

13.00 – 14.00 Lunch

14:00 – 15:00 Session Three: What do young people see happening in   Black British History?

Chair: Thabo Stuck (The BRIT school, Croydon)

The three speakers are students at the BRIT school

Black History in the curriculum and school.
Past & Present: Black History in the local community.
Cultural Appropriation 

15:00 – 16:30 Session Two: Imagination and Reality: Africans in   Sixteenth Century Britain

Chair: Michael Ohajuru

Miranda Kaufmann (Institute for Commonwealth Studies) ‘An Untold Black Tudor story: Edward Swarthye, alias negro” 

Cassander L. Smith (University of Alabama) Black Africans in the British  Imagination: English Saviors and Black Legend Rhetoric in 16th Century Guinea.

Imtiaz Habib (Old Dominion University, Virginia) What Mary Phyllis Said: An Inquiry into the Politics of the meaning of Black Voices in the English Archives. 

16: 30- 17:00  Tea/coffee

17:00 – 17:30 Final Thoughts and Conclusions Panel

Chair: Ali Meghri

Panel: To Be Announced

17:00 – 18:30 Reception

You can register for WHBBH7 here

WHBBH workshops to foster a creative dialogue between researchers, educationalists (mainstream and supplementary), archivists and curators, and policy makers. It seeks to identify and promote innovative new research into the history of people of African origin or descent in the UK, and to discuss the latest developments in the dissemination of that history in a wide variety of settings including the media, the classroom and lecture hall, and museums and galleries, thus providing an opportunity to share good practice.

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Croydon events and news at 19 September

Saturday 23 September. Table-top sale

Organised by Norbury Village Residents Association. Harlow Hall, corner Stanford/Oakhill Rds.


Saturday 30 September. Colors Croydon International Mela 


Sunday 1 October. 1-4pm. Selhurst Autumn Action

Friends of Whitehorse Park

Boulogne Rd


Thursday 19 & Friday 20 October. Asset-Based Community Development Workshop

Details at


Croydon’s Knife Crisis

Croydon Citizen is publishing a discussion piece on knife crime in Croydon by me at noon on Tuesday 19 September.


Schools Funding Crisis – sack faces 30 non-teaching staff at Shirley Primary


Norbury resident publishes two volume triller about Nazxi Germany


Award winning Neil Chandler returns to manage Fairfield Halls


Work on more Thornton Heath  improvements starts


Up to 2,700 Home Office staff to move into 1 Ruskin House by 2021.

Given the estimated loss of 11,000 jobs up to about 2011, the move of up to 2,700 Home Office officials into 1 Ruskin Square up to 2012 will hopefully have a positive effect for the Town Centre with their lunch time and after work spending. Many may also move into the Borough and become residents. It will also mean a boost in the number of active trade unionists and strengthen the local trade union movement, The Croydon TUC and Ruskin House.  The 600 who already work in Croydon have already moved in.


What is happening with the Whitgift Centre?

More and more people are asking what is happening with the new Westfield Shopping Centre. The economics of the scheme has changed fundamentally since the original planning permission was granted by the Council just before the 2014 local elections. Construction costs, for example, have risen: 5% 2016-17; expected this year 4.1%. There is also a growing construction  skills shortage. Westfield  and Hammerson are still in negotiation with the Council about their revised planning application. The negotiations are dragging on probably over how much Section 106, Community Infrastructure Levy and ‘affordable’ housing can be achieved through so called planning gain.  Although retail shopping behaviour has shifted to the internet, it is possible that the expanded Home Office will see enough spending by its 2,700 staff to  underpin the economic viability of the new retail units that may be up and running by 2021 if the planning approval is granted this year.



2 landlords banned from renting property

Landlords Samir Sakka and Besarta Zeneki have been fined for failing to improve their property in Benshal Lane. They have also been banned from renting property out again in Croydon.


I have asked Cabinet member Alison Butler to consider sending details to all other landlords who have not yet acted on improvement notices from the Council, and to consider CPOing the property and adding it to the Council’s housing stock. The two landlords appear to be individuals, They do not appear on the Companies House website or any of the special sites that give compnay information.  If they have other properties in Croydon they will have to stop renting them out. Hopefully  the Council will draw attention to other London authorities to check whether they have any information on properties they own or lease in their Boroughs. The two landlords footprint on the web seems to be only the result of the prosecution.

Croydon wants out of Borough landlords to help

Croydon Council officials Denise Dje Komenan, Shannon Tavernier Gustave and Jojo Blankson attended the Landlord and Investment Show in  Brighton. They were promoting landlord incentive schemes such as rent guarantees to help social housing tenants currently needing accommodation. The Council has 736 on its books. They were also looking for opportunities to rehouse tenants outside the Borough. The Council states: “We have over 28,000 flats and houses with a Croydon private property licence, and there is no evidence this scheme has caused a dip in supply. Properties outside Croydon don’t need a licence unless the local authority operates something similar.”

See full story and video at


Festival of Peace  Meets Crowd Funding Target

The organisers of the Festival of Peace being planned for 16 to 23 June have reached their Crowdfunding target. The partners putting the programme together include: Asian Resource Centre, Croydon BME Forum, Faiths Together in Croydon,  Family Fest & The Big Dance, Parade of Nations, Rise Gallery, Stanley Halls, Turf Projects, Young People Insight. You can join the peace party by dedicating your own event, group, concert, choir rehearsal, faith meeting, sports practice,  area of your community garden to Peace during the week.

To register your interest please email:


I am researching the history of peace and anti-war movements in Croydon to offer a talk.

News about cases at Croydon Magistrates

You can see these at


Recycling bicycles


Norbury based History & Social Action Publications publishes Mitchison family history


HSAP is my publishing imprint.


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Croydon Council Children’s Services and Local Plan updates at 18 September

Emergency Cabinet meeting 18 September

The webcast of what I am told was an acrimonious debate with Labour’s Jamie Audsley in conflict over the number of speakers allowed to is not viewable. However, it case it is put on check it out at


Charlotte Davies submits questions on the Children’s Services crisis to Scrutiny

Charlotte Davis has submitted the following questions to the members of the Scrutiny Committee considering the Children’s Services crisis on 19 September.

  1. What evaluation of Looked After Children is carried out to check whether the trauma they experience has had an adverse effective on their cognitive sensory processing i.e. control of motor skills; sound processing; binocular vision and visual processing.
  2. What is the minimum, average and maximum times it takes to assess the effects of trauma on Looked After Children and to decide a package of support to reduce the trauma and the adverse effects?
  3. What is the minimum , average and maximum time it has taken to approve SEN Education Health Care Plans?
  4. How many parents have taken Croydon Council to tribunal to contest the EHCP; on how many occasions have the parent’s appeals been upheld?
  5. How much has the Borough spent in the last year on lawyers to represent the Council in EHCP tribunals?
  6. What support are parents given during the EHCP process, including monitoring the parents anxiety levels given that over-anxiety exacerbates every aspect of the situation.
  7. What strategies does the Council have in place to identify and learn from  good practice which fundamentally changes children’s lifetime opportunities?

Charlotte is a former teacher and runs Fit2Learn which helps to correct children’s motor, hearing and eye co-ordination problems which can affect their learning:


See her Croydon Citizen contributions at:




Special Needs not part of Commissioner’s brief

I enquired of the Council:

‘One of the problems primary schools have faced has been the length of time statements have been approved for children with special needs. Is the Special Needs work part of the Children’s Services operation that now has the Government’s Commissioner in charge. If so do you know whether it is in her remit to look at the procedures involved in SEND and the time it takes?’

I have received a reply stating ‘that the Commissioner is not looking at SEN.  The service will be inspected separately as part of the SEN Local Area Inspection carried out by Ofsted and the CQC.’ (Executive Officer to Barbara Peacock, Executive Director People)

Clarification on Local Plan

Like many others who gave evidence at the Local Plan (Partial Review) Examination Hearings in May I have been struggling trying to understand what the Council’s proposed modifications are. I therefore wrote as follows to Steve Dennington, the lead Council planning officer at the Hearings.

‘I and many others are very disappointed by the small number of modifications to the Local Plan which are being consulted on.

There were many alternative modifications put forward at the Examination Hearings, but there does not seem to be a document that sets out what they were and why the Council has rejected them as modifications.

In addition to the D(iscussion) set of documents on the website, I assume you have seen the Inspector’s draft report, which does not appear to be available publicly.

Given the fact that there was no transcript of what was said, especially by you and your colleagues, those who gave evidence are at a disadvantage in they do not know why their evidence providing alternative information, analysis and evidence has been ignored.

This means that in the consultation you have the upper hand and those who gave evidence have  one arm tied behind their back, i.e. they are at a disadvantage which undermines the value of the consultation.

I wonder whether this would be grounds to write to the Secretary of State to say that the consultation exercise is fundamentally flawed and the resultant Inspector’s report should  be referred back.

There may also be a case to have another Hearing session so that these issues can be discussed.’

I am still waiting for his reply. I copied it to Chris Banks, the Inspector’s programme officer. He tells me that the Inspector has not prepared an interim report.

‘I do realise that he stated at one point that he would. Instead you need to read through the Inspector Discussion Documents and the subsequent LBC response in tandem with the Main Modification Documents. All the documents are on the Examination web site.’

Reading these is absolutely crucial in order to be able to work out how the alternative wordings could be suggested in the modifications consultation.

I have also passed on to the Inspector the Corporate Risk Register report going to the General Purposes and Audit Committee meeting on Wednesday 20 September. It has sections on risk with regard to ‘affordable’ housing and temporary accommodation, as these may have implications for the Inspector judging whether the Plan is sound, effective and deliverable.



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Thriller about Nazi Germany published by 97 year old Norbury resident

97 year old Norbury resident Eric Sanders has just had a two volume triller Mazes about Nazi Germany published.

MAZES is an epic thriller set during the rise of fascism in Europe. Eric grew up in the middle of all this and his experiences give the novel authenticity without cramping the action. He came to Britain from Austria as a refugee from the Nazis.

In Murder in Munich (Vol. 1) while the British establishment fears the spread of communism, agents in different European nations start to realise the growing menace of fascist movements. It’s 1926 and things are changing in Germany. Out of defeat and with a belief of betrayal, a new force is emerging to threaten the fragile peace.

Ronald Burnley is a student at university, intelligent but aimless. All this is about to change and he will start on a journey that criss-crosses the continent. Ronald encounters death, deceit and ruthlessness. But he also finds love and camaraderie.

In Conspiracy in Vienna (Vol. 2) the power struggles are dominating everyday life in Germany  Now the Nazi Party have become a legitimate party. For them democracy is like a tram ride – you travel as far as you can, until it’s time to get off! 

One assassination plot has already been thwarted, but can Ronald Burnley, a British intelligence agent and his European Intelligence counterparts stop the next one? British, French and Hungarian agents combine in a race against time.

Mazes 1: Murder in Munich

Paperback: 338 pages




Mazes 2: Conspiracy in Vienna

Paperback: 362 pages


Publisher: New Generation Publishing

£10.99 each


Copies can be ordered from Amazon and Barnes & Noble (and some other online book stores) as paperbacks.

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Making Middle England – The Mitchison family

Cover 2017

Naomi Mitchison, novelist, poet, dramatist and political activist in Peace movements and Anti-Apartheid.

Dick Mitchison, Labour MP for Kettering, treasurer of the Socialist League, 1930s, author of The First Workers’ Government, a utopian account of what would follow the election of a Labour Government.

These are just two members of the talented Mitchison family the story of which is old in this new book published by History & Social Action Publications.

A hitherto unknown and substantial collection of documents enabled the author to construct an elaborate family history. The story is told of Mitchisons’ origins in the north east of England, their lives there in the 18th century and their move to London in the early 19th century. They are located in the rise of the English middle class and a social ascent afforded by the acquisition of property and fortuitous marriage. They inhabited a world of comfortable prosperity in Victorian and Edwardian which was rocked and remade by the shifting economic and political sands of the early 20th century.

“This fascinating and well-illustrated volume is an excellent example of what family history should be like at its best. Embracing the globe from Northumberland to New Zealand, particularly impressive is the manner in which ancestry and descent from the eighteenth to twentieth century is integrated with the framework of economic and social analysis.” Professor Willie Thompson.

John Charlton is a historian married to Naomi Mitchison’s grand-daughter Sally Mitchison, and former consultant psychiatrist.  John is author of among other works of:

Hidden Chains: The Slavery Business and North East England. 1600-1865  (Tyne Bridge Publishing.  2008)

Don’t you hear the H-Bomb’s thunder? Youth & Politics in the late ‘Fifties and early ‘Sixties (North East Labour History Society & Merlin Press. 2009)

Making Middle England – ISBN: 978-0-9927299-2-9

History & Social Action Publications, 6 Oakhill Road, London, SW16 5RG. 316 pages, illustrated.

£25 plus £3 postage.

Orders to sean.creighton1947@btinterent.com


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History events and news at 17 September


Until Friday 29 September. Far From the Western Front

An exhibition highlighting the role of soldiers from South Asia in WW1.

First Floor, Hunter Wing, St George’s Medical School. Go through the Main Entrance of the hospital and at the first ‘crossroads’ carry straight on into the Medical School. Check in at reception for a visitor’s pass.

To end of September. Lambeth Heritage Festival

Walks, talks & special events in Lambeth and beyond.


Monday 18 September. 8pm. Drouett and the Tooting Pauper Asylum

Talk by Janet Smith for Streatham Society.

Woodlawns Centre, Leigham Court Road, Streatham.

Saturday 23 & Sunday 24 September. TfL funded London Walks


Tuesday 26 September. 7pm. NELHS AGM

Lecture Theatre of the Mining Institute, Neville Hall, Westgate Road, Newcastle, NE1 1SE

  • Presentation of this year’s Sid Chaplin Trophy to Sunderland University student, Leanne Smith for her dissertation, ‘ ‘To be Born a Woman has been to be Born, within an Allotted and Confined Space, into the Keeping of Men’: The Struggle over Female Labour in the Durham Coalfield, 1914 – 1918’
  • Talk ‘North East Responses to the Russian Revolution’ by Nigel Todd.

Tuesday 3 October. 7pm. Joe Wilson, ‘The Gallowgate Lad’

Talk by Dave Harker

NELHS First Tuesday meeting, The Old George Inn, Bigg Market, Newcastle.

Tuesday 19 October. 12.30-1.30pm. ‘African Stories in Hull and East Yorkshire.

Talk by Lauren Darwin from the Africans in Yorkshire Project – see below.

Tuesday 31 October  7.30pm. YOUNG OTHELLO: The Tragedy of the White Swan.

Exclusive Theatrical Readings written by Onyeka Nubia, directed by Khareem Jamal.

Canada Water Culture Space.


Wednesday 1 November. 7.30pm. YOUNG OTHELLO: The Tragedy of the White Swan.

The Studio at The Courtyard Theatre.


Events re-Black Art in London Galleries


inc 3-17 October talks by Michael  Ohajuru

Commemorating Martin Luther King in Newcastle 50 years ago


Seminars at Institute of Historical Research

Full details at https://www.history.ac.uk/events/diary

5 October. 5.30pm. The secret history of Brian Simon

6 October. 5.15pm. The State We Are In: Reflections on Recent Studies of Britain’s Political Economies, 1660-1815

12 October. 5.30pm. Traditions of Extreme Violence in British Colonial Warfare

12 October. 5.30pm. Charting Contested Caribbean Space: Mapping and Colonization in the British Ceded Islands, 1763-1783

16 October. 5.15pm. Post-imperial Demographic Unmixing: The Asian Minority and the Question of Citizenship in Transitional East Africa, (Un-)Making Connections: East Africa, the Uganda Railway and the Question of Globalization, c. 1890–1914

16 October. 5.30pm . The Leveller Revolution

24 October. 5.15pm. Assembling ‘Negroana’: Black history and the limits of universal knowledge.

30 October. 5.125pm. Putting Down Roots: Afro-Caribbean place-making in post-war Brixton, 1959-1998), The Forging of a Discourse: Caribbean Anti-Imperialism Activists’ Analyse 1930s Great Power Politics

7 December. 5.30pm. The intellectual culture of Conservatism after 1945

African Stories in Hull and East Yorkshire

Project recording the presence of people of African descent from 1750-2007.  The area covered is the historic Archdiocese of the East Riding of Yorkshire (pre-1974), which extends beyond the county boundary into eastern parts of present-day North Yorkshire.

The first exhibition will open shortly at Hull History Centre; the second will follow at Beverley Treasure House in mid-2018.

New items are being added to the website every week and these include extended histories of people featured in the exhibition.  Stories so far have included that of the Weeks Brothers, famous throughout the agricultural world for their articulated trailers; visits by Paul Robeson and other international performers and important anti-racist activists; the presence of thousands of West Indian members of the Royal Air Force who trained or served in the area; and the recollections of many local families.



South Shields OCR Migration Education Pack

The excellent education pack prepared by historian of Black Britain and former teacher Martin Spafford has been published and can be downloaded at


It is one of the support resources to OCRs’ GSCE Migration course.

Musical Heritage of Nine Elms


John Thelwall

As well as the JT Society (http://www.johnthelwall.org) there is the JT Words and  Work website at


Where are all the monuments to progressive Americans?


Celebrating the work of Catherine Hall

Catherine Hall’s work, including Family fortunes: men and women of the English middle class 1780-1850 (1987), written with Leonore Davidoff, Civilising Subjects (2002), Macaulay and Son (2012) and the co-authored Legacies of British Slave-ownership. Colonial Slavery and the Formation of Victorian Britain (2014) and many essays and lectures, has been of major importance in re-shaping the terrain of modern British history. This term’s papers are being given by former graduate students of hers in a spirit of both celebration of the work and critical engagement with it.

Reconfiguring the British: Nation, Empire, World 1600-2000/Modern British History IHR Seminars at 5.30pm at Institute of Historical Research:

5 October. 5.30pm. Learning from Catherine Hall – Race, Gender and Class in the Writing of History

Esme Cleall (Sheffield) and Simone Borgstede (Leuphana University Lüneburg)

19 October. Historic present, past tense: Making public history & De-centering the ‘civilising’ curriculum

Kate Donington (Nottingham) & Jason Todd (London)

16 November. Calling home to oneself: empire and the politics of belonging & Did the metropole make any difference ‘at home’? Rogue settlers and colonial belonging on an imperial margin

Onni Gust (Nottingham) & Laura Ishiguro (British Columbia)

30 November. Gender matters: historicising patriarchy & New Zealand, Boots the Chemists, and Challenges to Overseas Expansion, 1935-1938

Fae Dussart (Sussex) & Hilary Ingram (Durham)

14 December. Britain and Slavery: the legacies of LBS

Nick Draper (UCL)

Saturday 17 March 2018. Day conference on Catherine’s work.

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Black History in Hull & East Yorkshire

A - Study Day 7 October poster

A - Study Day 7 October poster

A - Schools Study Day - page 1

A - Schools Study Day - page 2

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