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The Spirit of ’77: Revisiting and Contextualising the Battle of Lewisham

November 10, 2017 - November 11, 2017
History Department, Goldsmiths, University of London, Goldsmiths, University of London

Goldsmiths, University of London
London SE14 6NW
United Kingdom

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The 13 August 2017 will mark the fortieth anniversary of the Battle of Lewisham, which provides an ideal opportunity to revisit and rethink the events of that day while also situating them within the wider social, cultural and political context of 1970s Britain.

The Battle of Lewisham occurred when the far-right National Front attempted to march from New Cross to Catford, passing through multicultural Lewisham on route. The NF march was opposed by a coalition of anti-racist and anti-fascist organisations, members of the local council and church groups, and many people from the Lewisham area.

The event effectively unfolded in three stages: a non-violent protest by the All Lewisham Campaign Against Racism and Fascism took place in the morning, this was followed by forceful opposition against the NF at Clifton Rise and New Cross Road, which also involved mounted police, and finally a violent confrontation in Lewisham Town Centre between protestors and police that resulted in the first use of riot shields by police on the British mainland. 

The purpose of this conference is to revisit and rethink the Battle of Lewisham and to examine it less as a single entity and more as a multifaceted sequence of events, situated very much within their historical context, which involved a wide range of people, from many different spheres of society, who may have had varied and diverse reasons for participating. The conference will also provide an opportunity to reflect upon and analyse the programme of commemorative events being staged by Goldsmiths across the anniversary weekend in August.

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