Red Stage: the 1930s Workers Theatre Movement in South London

Some interesting material in the University of Warwick's digital archive on British Political Theatre 1930s to 1950s, including some newsletters from the 1930s from the Workers Theatre Movement, associated with the Communist Party. As mentioned here before, South London was a focus for this kind of theatre, with performances of agitational sketches and songs given ...

‘Pride, Prejudice and Peckham’ – John Beckett from Labour MP to Nazi apologist

I have been looking into  the murky waters of the history of the far right in South London.  One of the more depressing specimens is John Beckett (1894-1964).After the First World War, in which he served, Beckett joined the left wing Independent Labour Party and after a period as a Hackney councillor he became the ...

1939 Evacuation – 2,000 children leave New Cross Gate in two hours

I'm sure many of us returning to work after the Christmas holidays are not looking forward to getting back on trains and buses. Spare a thought though for some previous travellers... On 1 September 1939, at the start of the Second World War, the mass evacuation of children from London and other cities started. As ...

Woolwich Rent Protest 1939

From the Daily Herald Archive at the National Media Museum:'A photograph showing residents creating a road blockade as part of a rent protest in Woolwich, south London, taken in July 1939 by John Topham for the Daily Herald'.  Great photo, unfortunately I don't know any more about the context. The placard reads 'we the tenants ...

Peckham Rent Strike 1930s

In the 1930s, Peckham was the scene of a successful rent strike. The focus was the Nigel Buildings tenements, which I think were situated roughly where the Troy Town flats are now off Nigel Road SE15. I found this account online, source seems to be an article (undated) in The Morning Star and I believe ...

History Corner: Jessica Mitford in Rotherhithe

The Mitford sisters became notorious in the 1930s and 1940s as aristocratic socialites who pursued widely divergent political paths. Unity and Diana both became Hitler enthusiasts, the latter marrying British Union of Fascists leader Oswald Mosley. Jessica Mitford (1917-1996) on the other hand ran away to Spain with her boyfriend Esmond Romilly to back the ...

A Music Hall Night out in Woolwich 1932

Browsing through some old theatre programmes at Haynes Lane market in Crystal Palace last week, I came across this from December 1932. The Royal Artillery Theatre in Woolwich was converted from the Recreations Rooms of the Royal Artillery Barracks. Damaged by bombs in World War Two, it closed in 1956 and was then demolished (there's ...