History Events & News at 18 April

Friday 29 April. 8pm. ‘Blueprint for Living’ – The Story of the Fitzhugh Estate, Wandsworth

Talk by Sharon O’Neill, a social documentary  photographer concentrating primarily on people and places that from the outside seem unexceptional, and by the very nature of their everyday-ness, are overlooked and often unrecorded.

Wandsworth Historical society Meeting Monthly Meeting, Friends’ Meeting House in Wandsworth High Street, opposite the Town Hall. 

Saturday 30 April. Noon-4pm. 100 years since the 1916 Easter Rising

London Socialist Historians event at Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, University of London, Malet St, London WC1. Admission free, donations towards costs welcome. Speakers: Chris Bambery: Was the Easter Rising doomed from the start?; Catherine Bergin: ‘The Irish fight for liberty is the greatest Epic of Modern History’: The Irish revolution and African American radicals”; James Heartfield: 1916: The Rising and the British Empire; John Newsinger: Sylvia Pankhurst, the Easter Rising and the Women’s Dreadnought. Discussion.

Thursday 12 to Friday 20 May. The London Metropolitan Archives’ Annual Spring Arts Festival

This is a partnership with the Foundling Museum, the Ministry of Stories, Spread the Word, the London Literature Lounge, Renaissance One and TILT. The festival highlights the Foundling Hospital collections and will be an opportunity to explore a charity founded by Thomas Coram in the 18th century. Events include readings, talks, creative writing, art workshops and a walk.

The full programme can be seen here:

LMA Festival booklet

Friday 13 May. 2-4.30pm. Navigating the Dreams of an Icon: Discovering Cy Grant 

Free talk by  & document viewing led by Project Archivist about the life and archives of Cy Grant (1919-2011), black Guyanese born, actor, singer-songwriter, artistic director, broadcaster, writer, multi-ethnic arts community organiser, and activist. The session introduces The Cy Grant Trust’s Heritage Lottery Funded cataloguing and outreach project at LMA, as well as volunteer opportunities. Readings by actor Burt Caesar. Part of The London Metropolitan Archives’ annual Spring Arts Festival.

Thursday 19 May. Launch of Cy Grant archive project  ‘Navigating the Dreams of an Icon’

Part of The London Metropolitan Archives’ annual Spring Arts Festival

Croydon and Slavery

One of the benefits of giving  history talks is that there are people in the audience who are able to supply extra information. In the discussion on Croydon of Slavery at the Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society meeting on 13 April Brian Lancaster mentioned a link with the slave trading/owners the Hibbert family arising out of his previous research into the connections of Jean-Baptiste Say, the French economist and businessman with Croydon. In particular Say knew James Purrier, a partner of the Hibberts. We have been exploring these links by email since the talk. Purrier signed the 1782 petition to George III urging more protection for the British West Indian islands in view of the American Revolution. He died in Croydon on 2 January 1785. Unfortunately his  address has not yet been identified. Information on Purrier can be seen at the Legacies of British Slave-ownership site at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/2146645233. Details about the compensation given to his descendants are on other parts of the database.

I opened my talk with details about Alexander Caldcleugh, the slave trader. He died at Broad Green on 18 January 1808. Brian tells me that he had ‘beautifi’d’ the Croydon church chancel at some time,  but does not know how he came to own it. After it was destroyed by fire in January 1867 the church had to buy it back from his descendants for  £1,005 2s 8d.

Remembering Paul Robeson

Candice Frederick of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture writes at:


3 films about his life have been announced:


Kwaku on Black British History IV

Kwaku of Black British Music and other projects attended the What’s Happening In Black British History IV conference organised by the Institute Of Commonwealth Studies, Black British History, and the University Of The West Of England, in Bristol last week. He has written:

‘I enjoyed the opportunity of learning new stuff, which formed the basis of my comments from the Final Thoughts And Conclusions panel, chaired by Dr Madge Dresser, author of the seminal text on the Britol Bus Boycott: ‘Black And White On The Buses: The 1963 Colour Bar Dispute In Bristol’.

Such as Orlando Martins, who was a Nigerian actor active in Britain during the early 20th century; Sarah Parker Remond, an African-American abolitionist, anti-racist, nurse and physician who was active in Britain and Europe in the 19th century; an on-point community history programme run from the I Am Me project in Bristol’s St Paul area; from the interesting narrative of the African American GI experiences whilst stationed in the Devon and Dorset areas, I was surprised to hear about the Britain’s Visiting Forces Act 1952; and it was refreshing to note that one of the projects had highlighted Nathaniel Wells, a not so well-known and somewhat paradoxical 18th/19th century character born to a Welsh merchant and enslaved African mother, who became one of the landed gentry. Incidentally, Wells was highlighted in conference attendee David Olusoga’s BBC 2 TV programme .

I also mentioned the issues that arose from the BBC Radio 4 Making History programme ‘Where Are All The Black Historians?’ Such as the lack of access given to African historians, and that whilst not saying that Europeans can not specialise in African history, it’s also important that conscious or progressive African historians are given access by the gate-keepers to speak on African history. The words of the organiser of the 1900 Pan-African Congress Henry Sylvester Williams springs to mind:

“The time has come when the voice of Black men should be heard independently in their own affairs.”

Perhaps the organisers of WHBBH, History Matters, Historical Association, PASCF, Black History Walks, or Black History Studies, etc can have a discussion focused on the supposedly lack of African historians, access to career development within academia, or African expert voices within the media and conferences?’

Read Patrick Vernon’s piece, ‘Where Are All The Black Historians?’ can be read here:


William Cuffay

The BBC 4 Making History radio programme by Bill Morris on William Cuffay can still be accessed at


Pop Nostalgia. The Uses of the Past in Popular Culture

This Workshop will be held on Thursday 10 and Friday 11 November at the German Historical Institute, 17 Bloomsbury Square, London WC1A 2NJ.

The organisers write:

‘Pop nostalgia, we are told, is everywhere. Our current golden age of television—from Mad Men to Vinyl, Downton Abbey to Call the Midwife—lovingly recreates earlier periods of the twentieth century, while club nights devoted to the 1980s or 1990s allow us to return to our youth. What is more, popular culture is, in the words of music journalist Simon Reynolds, addicted to its own past. It not only reminisces, it revives, reissues, remixes earlier forms and styles instead of coming up with genuinely new. Finally, our most modern technologies are always also time machines: producing sepia-coloured images of the present for an anticipated nostalgic recollection in the future.

These very different cultural phenomena, which are often subsumed under the term nostalgia, raise a number of still under-explored questions. How new is this development, given that period films are as old as the cinema and that popular culture and music has drawn on earlier periods as long as it exists? Can, contrary to Reynolds’ argument, the recycling of old styles and forms not also be highly creative and result in innovations? Are period settings and costumes, retro and vintage styles as such indicative and synonymous with nostalgia? Is it really nostalgia—a sentimental longing for yesterday—that drives our interest in and our engagement with the past? And if not what other motivations are at play? What role, for example, have media technologies such as film and the internet played in preserving the culture of the past in the present?

These are some of the questions the workshop Pop Nostalgia addresses. It explores the uses of the past in popular culture across all media and genre, from literature, cinema, television, and video games to theme park, club nights and sports events. It is interested not only in representations of the past but also in their production and circulation as well as in audiences and reception. The workshop is particularly interested in the historical dimension of pop nostalgia, namely how it has changed over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth century.’

The organisers welcome proposals for twenty-minute presentations from all disciplines and particularly encourage comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives. Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words, along with a short CV, by 30 June to both Dion Georgiou (BSSH South Sport and Leisure History Network) at diongeorgiou@hotmail.co.uk and Tobias Becker (German Historical Institute London) at becker@ghil.ac.uk. Accommodation during the conference will be covered. Up to 100€ of travel costs will be reimbursed to those traveling within Europe; 800€ for those traveling from elsewhere. 

Academic Papers

  • Inscriptions of Resistance in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, by Charlie Wesley & Daemen Colle


  • British Proslavery Arguments and the Bible, 1823–1833

In Slavery & Abolition journal

  • Sugar, Slavery and Productivity in Jamaica, 1750–1807



  • Small Towns, Large Implications: Social and Cultural Roles of Small Towns in Eighteenth-Century England and Wales by Penny Corfield


  • From Poison Peddlers to Civic Worthies: The Reputation of the Apothecaries in Georgian England by Penny Corfield


  • Foy, ‘Unkle Somerset’s freedom: liberty in England for Black Sailors

From Journal of Marine Research May 2011.


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 http://thecroydoncitizen.com. 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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