Community Struggles And Black Lives In Wandsworth History

This posting is a review of some of the activities going on about the history of the historic Wandsworth area, especially black lives and the campaign to save Wandsworth Common.

Tuesday 27 April. 6pm. A Brief Social History of Battersea

Zoom talk for Battersea Society by local historian and Councillor Tony Belton looking back on 200 years of Battersea social history over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries – the good, the bad and the not so ugly.

Email  to receive Zoom login details.

Friday 30 April. 8pm. Black Lives in Wandsworth’s History

A Zoom talk by me for Wandsworth Historical Society.

To book


The leading promoters of talks and other activities in Battersea at the moment are: Philip Boys, Sue Demont, Jeanne Rathbone and Tony Belton. All four are doing talks in the coming months, especially in Wandsworth Heritage Festival.

I have published Battersea 1860 & 1870s, and am finalising Battersea Railwaymen. An Introduction.

I will be working with the Battersea & Wandsworth Trades Union Council on the theme for the annual John Burns walk in August which I usually lead. The theme this year will be Tom Mann, which will include an exhibition.

John Archer

There has been growing interest in John Archer. My talk for Wandsworth Black History Month last year on John Archer can be seen at:

Other talks in the Month can be seen at

which includes Wandsworth’s Council Conservative Leader Ravi Govindia’s introduction emphasising remembering ‘the pain of the past’.

Ravi has had a group of officers examining erecting a statute of John Archer.

Because he was a Councillor for Nine Elms, which at the time was in the Clapham Parliamentary constituency, not in John Battersea constituency Vauxhall Society has published a piece about Archer by me on its website at

The Black Heroes Foundation is also doing work on Archer. It is running four events in the Heritage Festival: 3,4, 10 & 11 June.

My 2013 assessment of why Archer is important can be seen at:

My pamphlet biography can be ordered at:

Shapurji Saklatvala

Marc Wadsworth’s revised and extended Comrade Sak was published. My review can be seen at:

and on the publisher’s website.

The Worker’s Liberty organisation has published a pamphlet about Saklatvala by Sacha Ismail.

It is very well written review of his life with a critique of Marc’s political interpretation. For those who cannot afford to buy Marc’s book, this is worth buying.

Caroline Ganley

I am advising Yvette Elliott who is working on a PhD thesis on Caroline Ganley, the socialist campaigner for family health and welfare, and a colleague of John Archer’s as Labour Councillors from November 1919. Although there are two published pamphlets by Terence Chapman and Sue Demont about Ganley, there are still big gaps in our knowledge about the wide range of her activities and interests. I published and sell the one by Chapman.

Sue Demont and Carol Rahn are leading a virtual walk on Ganley on 9 June as part of Wandsworth Heritage Festival.

Wandsworth Heritage Festival Programme


Wandsworth Common

This year is the 150th Anniversary of the saving of Wandsworth Common. Philip and Sue Demont have been working on the history of Wandsworth Common, as part of a special project of the Friends of the Common. In March Philip gave a talk on the Common and the campaign to save it. Sue led a virtual tour of the east side of the Common along Bolingbroke Rd for the Friends. Both of these can been seen at:

Philip is doing a follow-up to his talk Down with the Fences Part II on May 5 at 6pm.

The Friends have also organised the following talks

Thursday 29 April. 6pm. Read All About It. The Common’s rich and varied literary history

Sunday 16 May. 6pm. Virtual book launch 

Sunday 30 May. Twixt the Taverns. A real life walk on the Common from the Hope to the County Arms.

Monday 7 June. Fitzhugh Estate

In April last year Wandsworth Society published on its website a self-guided walk from Wandsworth Common Station to Tooting Bec.

John Buckmaster

Philip and Sue are both working on the life of John Buckmaster,  the leading campaigner to save the Common who lived in Battersea, next to Clapham Common Station. Several years ago Roger Logan, another Battersea historian, gave me his hand written notes on Buckmaster and the Battersea Vestry. I was unable to do anything with them, until spurred by Philip’s interest. With the help of my son David, the notes have been transcribed. I added the material I had on Buckmaster, and some searching of press coverage on the Internet. The compilation has been given to Philip, Roger, Sue and Buckmaster’s descendants, and a set donated to the Wandsworth Heritage Service.

Wednesday 12 May. 6pm. Local Hero: the story of John Buckmaster 

Talk by Sue Demont for Battersea Society.

Email  to receive Zoom login details.

Battersea Riverfront

The last four decades have seen major redevelopment of the Battersea riverfront. Jon Newman, who works at Lambeth Archives, is researching these changes, and would be pleased to hear from anyone who has information and/or was involved in campaigns against some of the developments. Jon is giving a talk on the new apartment blocks on 10 June as part of the Wandsworth Heritage Festival. Jon’s history of Price’s Candles which I published can be ordered at:


Geoff Simmonds has continued to develop his range of history activities, especially online. He is leading walks of different parts of Tooting during the Wandsworth Heritage Festival on 29 May, 4, 5 & 13 June Tooting History Group has organised a talk by John Broughton  (Municipal Dreams)on Council housing in London before and after the Totterdown Fields Estate for 1 June. John has drawn on my material on the Latchmere Estate:

and on Holborn.

Streatham Society is strolling through Furzedown on 6 June during the Festival.

Geoff used my material on Wandsworth Black History in talks he gave as part of the Black Lives Matters meetings on Tooting Common following the murder of George Floyd in the United States. This resulted in my being contacted by Esuantaiwa Jane Goldsmith  the BLM organiser.  Last year she published her autobiography The Space Between Black and White. A Mixed Race Memoir. She grew up in Battersea, her white grandfather had known John Archer.

I am finalising a pamphlet about Tooting  comprising a collection of miscellaneous material that the late Martin Tupper and I compiled over the years in our researches.

My 2011 Alternative Tooting Rambles talk for the Tooting History Group can be seen at:

Wandsworth Historical Society

The Society has continued to publish its Journal. See:

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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1 Response to Community Struggles And Black Lives In Wandsworth History

  1. Pingback: Norbury Update 25 April | Norbury Watch

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