The Battle of Cable Street is remembered as a legendary moment in the history of the East End. Powerfully represented in a striking mural, the memory of Cable Street has been physically marked on the capital and the events of 80 years ago will be celebrated this week in events across London. 1
Cable Street, though, also raises questions about the nature of cultural and collective memory and the role archives and documentary evidence play in maintaining or challenging that memory.
On Sunday 4Â October 1936 a march through East London led byÂ Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists (BUF) was disrupted by anti-fascist counter demonstrators. The BUF intended to parade through areas with significant Jewish populations but were halted by a coalition of working men and women, Jewish people, dockers and immigrants. The event has developed an almost mythic status inÂ some circles, representing the East Endâ€™s clear rejection of fascism, and is celebrated with a plaque and the mural on walls along Cable Street.
Records at The National Archives, though, show a slightly more nuanced picture. They indicate attempts to ban the fascist demonstration, advice from left wing and Jewish groups encouraging counter-demonstrators to stay away, and a spike in support for the BUF in East London in the immediate aftermath of Cable Street. Continue reading »
- 1. JW3 are running a Cable Street Festival, the HOPE not hate Charitable Trust are launching a new online resource (www.cablestreet.uk), and activities across East London can be explored on the Idea Store site. ^