Living Memorial website & other history events & news

Saturday 9 November. 4pm. Launch of the historic Living Memorial website

‘You’ll see five short films from the website, which builds on the acclaimed Divided by race, united in war and peace hour-long film about Second World War veterans, particularly those Caribbean and African young men who volunteered to join the war effort and afterwards returned to live in Britain.

The Living Memorial website has never before seen new interviews with women and African service personnel as well as the original participants in the film. It tells the fascinating untold story of how they risked their lives to serve under the British flag in times of war, then faced a Windrush-type second battle – their right to remain under that flag, as British citizens. Until now their stories have not been properly heard. Nor has the contribution they made been fully recognised, both in helping win the war but also changing the face of British society. This documentary from The-Latest.Com, is directed by its editor Marc Wadsworth and deputy editor Deborah Hobson, the co-producer, who’ll do a Q&A at the end of the film screening.’

£5.50 which includes a glass of wine and other refreshments + booking fee.

Black Cultural Archives. To book go to

Saturday 9 November. 2.30 pm. The Spennymoor Settlement: unemployment, ‘mass society’, and ‘the right use of leisure’

Talk by Dr. Andrzej Olechnowicz (Durham University)

The Spennymoor Settlement established in 1931 is still going after nearly 90 years. It is famous for its impact on local art and culture. Under Bill Farrell, its warden of 23 years (1931-54), by 1939 it was known as the Pitman’s Academy and from then its Everman Players consistently presented an audacious and lauded programme of classics by Ibsen, Strindberg, Synge, O’Casey etc. After the war, Sketching Club artists, such as Norman Cornish and Tom McGuiness, and the writer Sid Chaplin made their names.

Dr Andrzej Olechnowicz of will consider the Settlement in a different context – the national debates within the voluntary movement, which founded and funded it (at least for the first years), and also among politicians, academics and commentators.

What if unemployment was not temporary? What if mechanisation meant more and more people thrown out of work with no or little prospect of finding ‘work’ as it had been understood hitherto? How could social and political order be maintained in the face of this ‘enforced leisure’ of millions who lacked the educational or moral resources to use it wisely, and so would use it unwisely and destructively.

Andrzej will ask if, in the face of the connection between economic dislocation and the rise of fascism, Spennymoor Settlement assumed the role of not only nurturing ‘miner-artists’ but also of making democracy safe through ensuring that the unemployed were equipped to make ‘the right use of leisure’. He will explore whether it succeeded and what obstacles it faced. Finally, as we move towards an economy based on AI and automation, he will reflect on what our answer would be to a new age of ‘enforced leisure’.

Durham County Local History Society.

The City Theatre, Fowler’s Yard, Back Silver Street, Durham City, DH1 3RA

Note: Spennymoor was set up by the British Association of  Settlements Coalfields Settlements Committee which ran between 1926 and 1936  in response to collapse of coal industry. In the 1930s its activities included children’s play.  By 1941 Spennymoor had a branch of the County Library, its own theatre, children’s play centre, Citizens Advice Bureau and Poor Man’s Lawyer scheme, adult education programme, and clubs. (From learning from the past to inform the future. The history of settlements and social action centres display at British Association of Settlements & Social Action Centres at BASSAC conference which I put together as Policy Development Officer 2000-2). Durham County Record Office has an archive about the Settlement at D/X 1542. It would be interesting to see whether there is any mention of the Settlement in  D/Sho 102 (Spennymoor Divisional Labour Party Agendas for Annual Meetings 1923 – 1924, 1935, 1937, 1944 – 1946, 1948, in the Shotton Family papers at the DCRO. (From listings on North East Popular Politics database:, which I edit).

Thursday 14 November. 6.30 pm for 7 pm. The St John Family A 17th-Century Life in Battersea

‘Sally Sellers, historian, will give a talk which has become unusually topical in the light of our current political situation. References to the English Civil War and the constitutional changes of the seventeenth century have been prevalent in what is said and written about Brexit and our political crisis. Members of the St. John family were  prominent players in the conflict and political turmoil of the 17th century and the family was very much divided between Royalists and Parliamentarians just as some families today are conflicted between Remain and Leave.’

Battersea Society. Tickets £5 on the door.

St Mary’s Church, Battersea Church Street, SW11 3NA

Thursday 14 November. 6.30pm Treason: Rebel Warriors and Internationalist Traitors

Socialist History Society launch of publication edited by Steve Cushion and Christian Høgsbjerg. Speakers:- Steve Cushion, Christian Høgsbjerg (chair) and Merilyn Moos.

Introduction – Rebel Warriors;  Soldiers of Misfortune: Napoleon’s Polish Deserters in the West Indies; The Saint Patrick’s Battalion; Deserters, Defectors and “Diehards” – The British men who fought and died for Irish Freedom;
Resistance to the Nazis from 1933 from within the German workers’ movement; Walter Pätzold – German Soldier and Italian Partisan; Major Karl Plagge and Sergent Anton Schmid; German and Italian Volunteers in the French Resistance Ilio;  Barontini; Supporting the Enemy in the Death Agony of French Colonialism.

Bookmarks Bookshop, 1 Bloomsbury Street, London,WC1B 3QE

£2 on the door, includes a glass of wine
Reserve your place here or call 020 7637 1848

Thursday 14 – Saturday 23 November. Black Men’s Mind

Artistic interpretation by audio-visual artist and psychotherapist Stephen Rudder, in collaboration with black men from various backgrounds, who have had mental health challenges.

Black Cultural  Archives. £3 admission


Saturday November 16. 2pm. Hunger in War and Peace: Women and Children in Germany 1914-1924

Talk by Dr Mary Cox for Socialist History Society.

Red Lion Hall, Basement, Tresham House, Red Lion Square,
entrance via Lamb’s Conduit Passage by Conway Hall, Holborn, WC1R 4RE

‘At the outbreak of the First World War, Great Britain quickly took steps to initiate a naval blockade against Germany. In addition to military goods and other contraband, foodstuffs and fertilizer were also added to the list of forbidden exports to Germany. As the grip of the Blockade strengthened, Germans complained that civilians-particularly women and children-were going hungry because of it. The impact of the blockade on non-combatants was especially fraught during the eight month period of the Armistice when the blockade remained in force. Even though fighting had stopped, German civilians wondered how they would go through another winter of hunger. The issue became internationalised as civic leaders across the country wrote books, pamphlets, and articles about their distress, and begged for someone to step in and relieve German women and children with food aid. Their pleas were answered with an outpouring of generosity from across the world. Some have argued, then and since, that these outcries were based on gross exaggerations based more on political need rather than actual want. This book examines what the actual nutritional statuses of women and children in Germany were during and following the War. Mary Cox uses detailed height and weight data for over 600,000 German children to show the true measure of overall deprivation, and to gauge infant recovery.’

Communities Secretary announces funding to protect more local heritage buildings

black Cultural Archives new website on Google

The Legacy of Harry T Burleigh

Petition re-memorial to victims of the slave trade


‘In late October 1841, the Creole left Richmond with 137 slaves bound for New Orleans. It arrived five weeks later minus the Captain, one passenger, and most of the captives. Nineteen rebels had seized the US slave ship en route and steered it to the British Bahamas where the slaves gained their liberty. Drawing upon a sweeping array of previously unexamined state, federal, and British colonial sources, Rebellious Passage examines the neglected maritime dimensions of the extensive US slave trade and slave revolt.’ (Gilder Lehrmann Center for Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University newsletter 4 November)

Olivette Otele appointed Professor of the History of Slavery at Bristol

Congratulations to Olivette on her appointment starting on 1 January. Her first task will be a two-year research project on the university’s and the city of Bristol’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade.

Battersea’s Empress of Hapsburg

Alyson Wilson writes in the Clapham Society newsletter  November 2019:

‘A member drew my attention earlier this year to the death, at the age of 101, of a notable local ‘character’. Hanna Barrington was born in Vienna, became an active Communist, was arrested when the Nazis seized power, fled to Paris and then to London. After working in an East end biscuit factory, on London buses, travelling to Guyana (where she married) for the Communist party and running a script-editing service for the commercial television company Rediffusion, in the 1960s she bought a rundown off-licence in Battersea, where until 1992 she ran a wine bar called The Corkscrew. Does anyone remember it, or know where it was?

There were said to be cats lying on the bar and prices so low that customers often insisted on putting them up. If Hanna liked you she was charming and extremely generous – if not she could be outrageously rude. A passionate supporter of gay rights, after the wine bar closed Hanna took in lodgers through the LGBT telephone helpline Gay Switchboard.

Her parties, reminiscent of a 19th-century Paris salon, were legendary. Artists and academics, socialists and socialites of every hue and sexual orientation would gather with the ‘Empress of Habsburg’, as she danced on the tables well into her 70s.’

Essays on Essays etc on – Katrina Navikas – Robert Poole – Robert Poole – Katrina Navikas

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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