Remembering the Battle of Lewisham 40 years on

In this section


How should we remember the protests and civil disturbances that have become known as the Battle of Lewisham?

Crowds gather at Clifton Rise on 13 August 1977. Photo: Chris Schwarz

To mark the 40th anniversary of the events of 13 August 1977, Goldsmiths organised a range of activities to initiate dialogues with the public about how the ‘Battle of Lewisham’ should be remembered.

On 13 August 1977, the far-right National Front (NF) attempted to march from New Cross to Lewisham town centre, leading to violent clashes with counter demonstrators and the police.

The Battle of Lewisham, as it became known, marked the first time a national NF march was prevented from reaching its destination, and also saw the first deployment of riot shields by police on the UK mainland.

Forty years on, Lewisham remains a vibrant, diverse and multicultural community. It is not without its problems, but the pervasive, explicit and toxic racism and fascism that fuelled support for organisations like the National Front has, by and large, been relegated to the dustbin of history.

The Battle of Lewisham serves as potent reminder of how easily such ideas can take hold. With reports of a 40-50% increase in hate crimes in Britain following the EU referendum, 2017 became a particularly relevant time to commemorate and remember how people, throughout London’s history, have come together to stand firm and united against racism and fascism.