Remembering the Battle of Lewisham

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

In August 2017, to mark the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Lewisham, Goldsmiths organised a range of activities to open a dialogue with local community about how the events of 1977 should be remembered.

A series of public consultations and workshops led to the development of a new public artwork which was installed on Lewisham Way in October 2019.

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.