Black Eagles & The Spy Princess – 23 October


A special day of events recognising the heroic stories of African-Caribbean and Asian Personnel who have served with the Royal Air Force.

11.30-12.15     ‘Black Eagles’: African-Caribbean pilots in the First World War by Peter Devitt (Lecture Theatre)

‘Black Eagles’ tells the story of the pilots of African heritage who fought for Britain and for France. The presentation also traces the remarkable career of Ahmet Ali Celikten, the first known Black pilot, who flew for the Turkish Naval Air Service on the side of Germany.

12.00-12.20, 13.00-13.20, 13.30-13.50.     Jan Blake storyteller      (Art Gallery)

Quails, who meet their end, because they won’t stop quarrelling, a talkative tortoises who earns himself a cracked shell and a clever spider who can’t help but trick his friends and family.

Come and join internationally renowned storyteller Jan Blake as she takes you on a journey through Jamaica and the folktales of Ananse, the shape-shifting Trickster Spider and then to India, land of the Jakarta Tales, originally told by the Buddha and retold by Noor Inayat Khan, the spy princess.

13.00-14.00 Black and Asian pilots in the First World War – a guided tour by Peter Devitt (First World War in the Air)

During the First World War, large numbers of Black and Asian volunteers fought for Britain and an unknown number chose to join her flying services, the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and, from 1 April 1918, the Royal Air Force. Four Indian officers – Lieutenants Shri Krishna Chanda Welinkar, Indra Lal Roy, Hardit Singh Malik and Errol Suvo Chunder Sen – became fighter pilots with the RFC. The first Black volunteer to qualify as a pilot was Sergeant William Robinson Clarke from Jamaica who flew reconnaissance missions for the RFC over the Western Front.

14.00-14.30     Performance by an Indian dance troupe (Halton Gallery)

Bharatantyam is one of the most cherished elements of Indian Cultural Heritage. Originating over 2000 years ago, the classical dance form has been devotedly handed down from generation to generation, from the ancient temples, successively entering the Royal Courts and subsequently ascending to the stage.

Guru Sri Prakash Madagudde, of the Bhavan Centre, London, has played an incredibly significant role in popularising and shaping this art form in the UK today, ensuring the posterity of Bharatanatyam will continue to flourish.

15.00-16.00     Shrabani Basu – Liberte! The life of WWII heroine Noor Inayat Khan (Lecture Theatre)

Shrabani Basu, author of Spy Princess, traces the story of Noor Inayat Khan from her birth in Moscow to her death in a bleak concentration camp in Germany and looks at the spirit that moved her.



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Helping Low Paid Workers Into Better Jobs – 9 November

Step Up – Learning Event

Wednesday 9 November, 2 – 5pm

Park Plaza County Hall, London

 Step Up is a two year initiative piloting 6 new approaches to help low paid workers move into better jobs.  The programme is funded by Trust for London and the Walcot Foundation and evaluated by the Learning & Work Institute.  At the “half way mark” we are pleased to invite you to an event where we will share learning from service providers, employers, workers and commissioners on:

  • How to engage and support clients who are already in work
  • How employers can benefit from supporting progression
  • An update on the European Social Fund in-work progression programme
  • What Universal Credit pilots tell us about the future of conditionality and in-work support

Speakers include:

  • Dr Lubomira Anastassova-Chirmiciu – EU Programmes Manager ESF, GLA
  • William Harwood – JCP Partnership Manager Southwark, DWP
  • Tony Wilson – Director of Policy & Research, Learning and Work Institute

and the organisations delivering the pilot projects:

  • Creative Society, High Trees Community Development Trust, Indoamerican Refugee and Migrant Organisation (IRMO), Thames Reach, Timewise Foundation, Springboard UK

This event is for employment support providers, local authorities, commissioners, employers and all with an interest in tackling in work poverty by supporting people to progress with their careers.  The event is free but places are limited so early booking is recommended.

From Walcot Foundation newsletter October 2016

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Labour’s Kate Hoey Backs Protest V. Lambeth Labour Council


“All of you have come here today with one clear message for the Council – Lambeth, you are not listening to us. “We all know the council is facing huge challenges from the cuts imposed  by the government. BUT in so many of the decisions that have angered local communities, it has been clear that despite public utterances about listening, the voices of many of you have been ignored….

I call on our Labour council to welcome debate and positive
criticism. I hope the Council will see today’s protest as a wake-up

This was part of the message of support from Kate Hoey, Vauxhall Labour MP, to the demonstration held on Saturday 8 October  against the Labour controlled Lambeth Council.

30 supporting organisations – ranging from pensioners to skateboarders – sent delegates to the event (more information below).

All agree that – while government cuts are painful – their common
problem is a high-handed, ill-informed, wasteful and uncaring Labour

People all over Lambeth are campaigning to save homes, libraries,
businesses, clubs and pubs threatened by the Labour council’s
destructive plans, bulldozed through without listening to residents or
considering viable alternatives.
Now they are uniting to make the council listen.

The demonstration will be followed by a series of public meetings
examining the council’s performance in detail.

Karen Bennett:; 07961 476 503
Nicola Curtis:; 07477 619477

Kate Hoey’s message also stated:

“The Garden Bridge is a classic example. The local Labour councillors
and thousands of local residents have made it clear their opposition
not just to this waste of public money but also to the Bridge being
located where no one wants it. Lambeth could have stopped it but have chosen not to do so. They have not listened.

“Thank you to all of you who have been working hard in our communities to protect our local services, libraries, parks and housing estates. There have been so many genuine alternatives put forward to Council plans on libraries, housing and re- generation. But you have not been listened to.

“I will continue to campaign with you to preserve and enhance our communities. I do not want to see housing estates being destroyed, with virtually no genuinely affordable Council housing replacing it.
The tenants on the Westbury Estate have been ignored and side-lined, just like what happened to those on Cressingham Gardens.”

“With a 59 to 4 majority, the councillors need to listen even more to
voices outside the council chamber. Councillors should be encouraged to speak out, and not victimised like Cllr Rachel Heywood was for her brave stand on speaking out against
the closure of libraries.”

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Arabic Literary Translation 14 October


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‘Unspeakable Things Unspoken:’ Transatlantic Slavery – A Public Conversation – 12/13 October


October 13, 10.30am to 3.30pm (Nottingham and East Midlands activist workshop)

This conference will examine the ways in which slavery has figured in public history in Britain. It will consider how academic history has shaped public perceptions of slavery and how public debate has challenged and inspired scholarship. It will give critical attention to the ways in which slavery and colonialism has shaped both our public and academic history institutions. Given the increasing emphasis on ‘impact’ within university research agendas the event will offer new possibilities for building relationships across academic and public history. Public history will be conceived of in its broadest sense and speakers will be invited from among museum and heritage professionals, artists, community historians, activists, academics, poets, performers and educators.

Further details and to register go to:

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Betraying a generation. How education is failing young people


Education has betrayed its promises to deliver upward social mobility and a brighter future. Young people study harder but learn less, running up a down-escalator of devalued qualifications to become overqualified but underemployed, unable to move forward with their lives. From primary to post-graduate schools – funny phonics through endless testing to phoney apprenticeships and the world’s most costly university fees – Patrick Ainley explains how English education is now driven by the economy and politics, ‘dumbing down’ rather than ‘wising up’. Addressed to teachers and students at all levels of learning, it concludes by suggesting how schools, colleges and universities can begin to contribute towards a more meaningful and productive society.

Betraying a generation. How education is failing young people

By Patrick Ainley, Professor of Education at Greenwich University and Visiting Fellow at New College Oxford, and Croydon resident.

Policy Press.

Following Justine Greening’s speech at the Conservative Party conference yesterday,  Patrick  reflects on the state of English Education under Theresa May’s government.

Theresa May has reorganised English state education by putting teaching in the universities and colleges together with schools for the first time.

Despite university research remaining at the service of industry in the renamed Department of Business, this consolidation gives an appearance of strategic planning but relentless competition remains the misguided method to ‘raise standards’ from primary to postgraduate schools. This leaves students at all levels studying harder but learning less as assessment increasingly takes the place of teaching.

Grammar schools: playing politics with education

The grammar schools proposal has taken playing politics with education to a new low. Perhaps deliberately disclosed before the Party Conference, it was seemingly intended to appear reassuringly retrogressive, keeping on side Tories sympathetic with UKIP, the only other party wanting more grammar schools. As it is likely to be defeated in parliament, May has already clarified, ‘It does not mean bringing back binary schooling but opening up the system’.

“The grammar schools proposal has taken playing politics with education to a new low.”

So secondary moderns, which are the corollary of grammar schools, will be restored in just six pilot ‘opportunity areas’. Here secondary moderns will link to proposals for ‘technical education’ in a report from Lord Sainsbury issued in July. These – plus 500 more ‘free schools’ – are unlikely to appease the majority of parents whose children fail to get into the new grammars.

The broad range of opposition that has gathered against any return to selection tends to fall back on defending the existing academic competition between schools as better enabling (upward) ‘social mobility’. Only it doesn’t. Social mobility in this century is downward – unlike the limited upward social mobility that existed for a short period in the last century. Any number of grammar schools will not change this.

Why we can’t do apprenticeships like the Germans

Similarly, bringing back ‘apprenticeships’ will not transform the UK’s deregulated and deskilled service economy into a productive and highly regulated one like Germany’s. Yet May’s government is still committed to David Cameron’s promise of three million apprenticeships by 2020 even though these are too often without legal guarantee of employment, often semi-skilled and many in services not really requiring prolonged training. According to DBIS surveys, one-in-three apprentices were unaware they were on an apprenticeship and one-in-five reported receiving no formal training, whilst 6% of apprenticeships lasted less than the legal minimum 12 months.

“According to DBIS surveys, one-in-three apprentices were unaware they were on an apprenticeship.”

The basic problem is most employers don’t want or need apprenticeships since automating technology and flexible employment results in down-sizing and deskilling. If they do need them, they run them themselves. They certainly don’t want to run them for government, as Sainsbury recommends ‘empowering’ them to do. Hence employers’ reluctance to pay the apprentice levy, which the Conservatives unexpectedly foisted upon large companies and then – contrary to expectations – said they still have to pay despite ‘Brexit’.

More graduates don’t mean more graduate jobs

Apprenticeships represent the same supply-side solution that promises, as Blair and Brown did when they expanded entry to higher education, that more graduates mean more graduate jobs. Instead, most degrees offer at best access to semi-professional employment. But because many young people are desperate for this promised security, they keep applying to university – 4% more this year, a new record. Many will never repay their raised fee debt because more than 25% of graduates earn less than the £21k repayment threshold even ten years after graduating. Meanwhile universities desperately competing to survive in the market for fee-bearing students continue to provide courses of little utility and sometimes dubious quality.

The government now hopes to reduce student numbers by raising the highest fees in the world for institutions meeting the new ‘Gold Standard’ of ‘Teaching Excellence’ by complying with various behavioural measures of student learning, supporting free and grammar schools, widening participation, improving completion and ‘raising attainment’ (grades!). At the same time private sector providers are subsidised to offer cut-price, two-year degrees to drive some of the existing universities out of business or into merger.

An alternative solution

What is actually required of a National Education Service worthy of the name is a general education for all to 18, learning about work across a range of occupations, not narrow training to work in all too often obsolescent employment. It would afford an entitlement to a free higher education, which also needs to refind its vocational purpose – including the academic vocation. At the same time, proper apprenticeships for socially useful and sustainable work should be delivered by further education colleges linking schools to universities in partnership with private industries and public services committed to job creation. Scotland’s new Labour Market Strategy provides an example of such an alternative approach.


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History Events and News At 6 October

Saturday 8 October. 9.30 for 10am. Not 1066 And All That Radical Histories in Hastings and St Leonards

St Matthew’s Church Hall, London Road.

Sunday 9 October. 2.30pm. Tooting Bec Common and its surroundings. History & heritage walk 

Led by John Rattray (Balham Society) for Friends of Tooting Common.

Starts at the café on the Common and everyone is very welcome.

For more information, please email

Friday 14 October (even). Eva Gore-Booth: Irish Revolutionary and Inspiration for Our Times

Lecture by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland at TUC.

Please register at

As drinks and light refreshments will be served after the lecture, the TUC would like people to register in advance.

Eva Gore-Booth was a true revolutionary – a woman who transgressed the boundaries of her time, sex and class. She was an aristocrat from the West Coast of Ireland who became a prominent trade-unionist and went to live in a working class neighbourhood of Manchester. She was an ardent campaigner for women suffrage and gender equality in an age still ruled by patriarchal values. She was a prominent advocate of pacifism and a supporter of Conscientious Objectors throughout the heightened militarism of WWI. And she was also an Irish nationalist – the daughter of a long line of Anglo-Irish landlords who, although with different means than her sister, Constance Markievicz, nevertheless wholeheartedly embraced the cause of Irish Freedom.

Greenwich Industrial History Society’s Programme

11 October. Terry Powley. Society’s Changing Perceptions of Youth in the Twentieth Century

15 November. Mark Stevenson. Historic England The Arsenal site

17 January.   Stewart Ash on Sir John Pender

21 February. Andrew Turner on Redpath Brown & Co

14 March. Jane Grant and her new book Exceptional Women. The Fawcett Society

11 April. Julie Ricketts on St. George’s Garrison Church – its history and future

23rd May Jon Wilson – and his recent book on the British in India

13th June James Hulme on Charlton Riverside

11th July Richard Buchanan on Cables at Telcon after 1866

Meetings held 7.30pm. The Old Bakehouse, Bennett Park, SE3 (rear of Age Exchange). There is NO parking.

Another little known about Black Georgian

Betty Harrison, was servant of the Lee family for nearly sixty years, and came with them from Jamaica in 1771 and died in 1820

For more detail see 

Tacky’s Rebellion on Jamaica 1760-61

See special website at

The Legacy and Relevance of Cable St

See the debate on Sheffield University’s History Matters blog site:

Paul Robeson

Robeson sang at the Lincoln Memorial on September 30, 1946 at an event lobbying for federal anti-lynching legislation.

You can listen to an interview with him on KPFA radio in 1958 at

1943 photo:

US National Archives and Records Administration / Wikimedia

Paul Robeson sings out against lynching (1946)

Washington Area Spark / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0) and Unknown / Wikimedia

Paul Robeson portrait (circa 1930).

US National Archives and Records Administration / Wikimedia

If the links do not work gom to source of information at  

HLF Expectations Project

Emelia Kenlock writes:

The Expectations project aims to increase public access to the Kenlock photography archive. Neil Kenlock’s work covers three decades from the 1960s to the 1980s, documenting the lives of the first generation, African Caribbean community in the UK. These photos will tell the untold stories of black community leaders taken in their places of work – people for whom there are few biographies available outside of academic texts.

Working closely with volunteers, “Expectations” aims to give the participants the opportunity to discover examples of community leadership and organising, both online on the website, through, social media and a series of public events. Expectations will increase the opportunity for the public to access the stories of the people, campaigns and events in the photographs, many of which have never been seen before.

For more information on Neil Kenlock’s work, please visit:

Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa

You may not have seen this book by  Catherine Higgs (Ohio University Press, 2012).

It traces the early-twentieth-century journey of the Englishman Joseph Burtt to the Portuguese colony of São Tomé and Príncipe—the chocolate islands—through Angola and Mozambique, and finally to British Southern Africa. Burtt had been hired by the chocolate firm Cadbury Brothers Limited to determine if the cocoa it was buying from the islands had been harvested by slave laborers forcibly recruited from Angola, an allegation that became one of the grand scandals of the early colonial era. Burtt spent six months on São Tomé and Príncipe and a year in Angola. His five-month march across Angola in 1906 took him from innocence and credulity to outrage and activism and ultimately helped change labour recruiting practices in colonial Africa.

Previously Burrtt lived in the Whiteway colony set up by socialists and others from Croydon.

The Cost of Liberty: Sacrifice and Survival in Du Bois’s  John Brown

See Alexander Livingston’ chapter in  A Political Companion to W.E.B. Du Bois. ed. Nick Bromell (University Press of Kentucky (forthcoming)


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