Radical New Cross: protest and dissent 1875 – 2015


From 14 – 18 November 2015, nearly 360 people attended a series of events exploring the radical past, present and future of the local area in some of Goldsmiths’ most unique and historical spaces.

Academics collaborated with community groups, artists, archivists and activists to host eight free public events that sparked discussions on themes such as direct action, protest and the commons.

New Cross has long been a hotbed of radical ideas and this spirit of challenging established thinking, creativity and direct action is part of the fabric of Goldsmiths. From the imprisonment of the parish priest of St. James Hatcham for radical teachings in the 1870s, to the Battle of Lewisham between the National Front and anti-Fascist groups a 100 years later, New Cross continues to be a hub for progressive voices and debate.

Across the series we heard first-hand accounts of the 1977 ‘Battle of Lewisham’ from a panel including the borough’s first black police constable and retired Metropolitan Police Chief Inspector, David Michael, and former Goldsmiths lecturer and eminent academic, Professor Paul Gilroy.

A communal meal in Goldsmiths newly refurbished and historic Deptford Town Hall Council Chamber brought together local people, bloggers, academics and community groups and provided a platform for anyone to speak on the themes of communing, enclosures and the problematic history of Deptford as major naval and trading port.

Workshops explored the history and enduring relevance of textiles in the digital age, new empowered print work inspired by posters from the Women’s’ Movement from the Women’s Art Library Archive was on show on New Cross Road, and a public lecture explored the relevance of anarchism for contemporary politics.

Radical New Cross was funded by Being Human, the UKs only national festival of the humanities and a partnership between The School of Advanced Study, the Arts & Humanities Research Council, the British Academy and the Wellcome Trust. Event partnerships ranged from the UK Houses of Parliament’s Parliament Week, The Field & New Cross Commoners, X Marks the Spot and the Women’s Art Library.

Read the full programme.

Listen to extracts from the Battle of Lewisham panel discussion: 

Images from Radical New Cross: protest and dissent 1875 - 2015.