Croydon Needs a Soul

Bread and Roses’ has been a phrase in the labour movement since it was included as the title of James Oppenheim’s poem in the United States in December 1911 based on a phrase in a speech by Rosa Scheiderman, the Polish born American union, socialist and feminist activist. It was adopted for the name of the Lawrence Textile strike as ‘The Bread and Roses Strike’ the next year, and later became a song. It symbolises that souls need feeding as well as bodies.

A lot of debate in Croydon in the last three years has been about the need for it to develop ‘a soul’. Daniel Labonne, who ran the Borough based Samuel-Coleridge-Taylor Society in the 1990s reflects on that experience in the May newsletter of the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Network:

The Croydon Heritage and Ambition Festivals this summer will hopefully provide food for the soul. ‘Croydon Till I Die’, a series of summer events celebrating the suburbs looks as if it will help:

21 May. Bookseller Crow, Crystal Palace ( – with John Grindrod, Lucy Mangan and Andy Miller

28 May. Rough Trade East, 91 Brick Lane ( – with John Grindrod, Andy Miller and Bob Stanley

11 June – Fairfield Halls (Arnhem Gallery), Croydon ( – with John Grindrod, Andy Miller and Bob Stanley

Full details at


About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy, housing and environment issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly. I am a member of the Love Norbury Residents Associations Planning & Transport Committees, and Chair of Nobury Community Land Trust. I write for Croydon Citizen at I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and edit the North East Popular Politics database. History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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