East End Walks's blog

Where were you in 1936?

By East End Walks, April 11, 2011

The year 2011 has an important date worth marking. I'm not talking about the royal wedding. I haven't been invited but just like you, I've been asked to pay for it. No, I'm talking about what happened 75 years ago. Ring any bells?


Dilemma: what would you do?

By East End Walks, October 11, 2009

Another October 4th has passed. For many people around the world the date may not mean anything special but for Jews with a sense of history, for anti-fascists, and for people who have lived for generations in London's East End, the date is special. It was on 4th October 1936 that the people of the East End - Jew and non-Jew - stopped Mosley's blackshirts invading their area and inciting hatred, in a huge and united anti-fascist demonstration of people's power.


Art for the people

By East End Walks, April 5, 2009

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending the VIP preview re-opening of a great East End institution - the Whitechapel Art Gallery. Sadly it is still a rarity for galleries to be established in the most impoverished areas. The creation of the Whitechapel at the end of the 19th century owed much to the lobbying power of Canon Samuel Barnett and Henrietta Barnett - who were both already responsible for the creation of Toynbee Hall - through which Oxbridge graduates became social/community workers/welfare advisors to the poor and a range of adult education opportunities were offered.


Solidarity forever

By East End Walks, March 9, 2009

One of the outstanding features of the success at the Battle of Cable Street in 1936, when East Enders, Jew and non-Jew, united to block the streets to Mosley's fascists, was the solidarity between Jewish and Irish workers.


Is he or isn't he?

By East End Walks, February 16, 2009

It's one of those conversations that invariably goes on in front of the television.
"He is isn't he?"
"I don't know."
"I've always thought he was."
"He doesn't look it."
"Maybe he's German?"

...and maybe I was right. We were watching the first few minutes of Rick Stein on that excellent series "Who Do You Think You Are?"



By East End Walks, December 19, 2008

I came home from work to some sad news today on my email. Aubrey Morris a veteran of the Battle of Cable Street has passed away at he age of 89. In October 2006 - on the 70th anniversary of this famous demonstration to prevent the fascists marching through the East End Jewish heartland - I had the privilege of sharing a platform with him at a meeting organised by the Jewish Socialists' Group. During that week he also appeared on radio and television. He was typically diffident about his role in the Battle and about the attention he was drawing from the media.


From Cable Street to Umm el Fahm - they shall not pass!

By East End Walks, December 14, 2008

Umm el-Fahm is a large Palestinian city within Israel. Its mayor Khaled Hamdan is proud that Israeli Jews always come there and are welcome to Umm el-Fahm: "They walk around Umm el-Fahm. They eat in the restaurants of Umm el-Fahm... This happens every day." Only tomorrow, Jews and Palestinians, will be standing together, shoulder to shoulder, to keep a certain unsavoury group of Jews well away who intend to hold a provocative march through the city.


Location, location

By East End Walks, December 11, 2008

I picked up a fascinating second-hand book recently by Abraham Levy, called East End Story – and signed by the author, nokh. It’s a collection of articles that originally appeared in the JC in 1948 under the title
“In search of the East End”.


A remarkable encounter in Brick Lane

By East End Walks, November 9, 2008

I had a remarkable encounter in Brick Lane today. I had a couple of hours to kill between doing an "Anti-Fascist Footprints" walk for a random group of interesting individuals responding to an ad in Time Out, and a "Radical Jewish East End Walk" for a dozen people in the afternoon who had bought an auctioned walk that I had donated to a charity that organises drama workshops for young people, including many with disabilities.


So what do you tell the children?

By East End Walks, October 28, 2008

A few months ago I was fortunate enough to take three groups of year 6 schoolchildren (11 year olds) around the East End on my historical walks. I enjoyed it a lot and I know from the feedback it was much appreciated by them. Some parents and grandparents came along too.


Mosley and his respectable cheerleaders

By East End Walks, October 13, 2008

Bad as things are, with the BNP gaining dozens of council seats around the country, we can be thankful that they haven't got a leader of the calibre of the late and unlamented Oswald Mosley.


Top of the Bill

By East End Walks, October 4, 2008

It was nearly 25 years ago that I went on my first East End walk. Our guide was Bill Fishman, at that time teaching at Queen Mary College, near Stepney Green. While many of Bill's collegues were researching obscure aspects of history from places far away in distance and time, Bill looked closer to home. He knew that there was a wealth of history to be explored on the doorsteps to the college.