Patron: Peter Hennessy
At the Epicentre, West Street, Leytonstone E11 4LJ
7.30pm Buffet (please bring something if you can)
8.00pm Talk & discussion till 10pm & back to buffet
Overground: Leytonstone High Road, turn right, short walk
Disabled access, Car park / Bikes can be brought in
Quiet children welcome.
You can phone to confirm the talk will be as shown
Meetings open to all – just turn up
Enquiries 0208 555 5248
Free entry: voluntary donations welcome
Saturday 11th February 2017
More Anglican than Anarchist: Christian Socialism and the Labour Movement
Speaker: Canon Steven Saxby
Waltham Forest’s very own Red Vicar will speak on the role Christians, including Anglicans, played in the formation of the Labour movement & the Labour Party. The Church Social Union, the Guild of St Matthew & the Church Socialist League all made important contributions to Labour. Steward Headlam & Conrad Noel, notorious radical clerics, were leaders of a movement which challenged the Church & challenged the Party & was hugely important to George Lansbury, sometime Labour leader. With reference to how the churches related to other Labour strands, including those inspired by William Morris, Canon Saxby will consider how the churches helped transform the UK at the turn of the last century & how they might again contribute to the social movement politics required to bring real change to Britain today.
Saturday 11th March 2017
Alice Wheeldon: convicted of conspiracy to murder Lloyd George – 100 years on, can we clear her name? Speaker: Chloë Mason
100 years ago, Alice Wheeldon, Winnie & Alf Mason were imprisoned amidst international publicity that had made them instant ‘tabloid villains’ since their arrest in January 1917. They had been set up by undercover agents posing as conscientious objectors. The family argued that the murder plan was fabricated. The family’s fate was used to intimidate others striving to avoid/stop war & to bring about a better world based on peace & social justice. This compelling story, a ‘spy story’, is one of tragedy, courage & hope. Chloë, great-grand-daughter of Alice Wheeldon, will discuss the campaign to clear their names.
‘Comrade Morris is not dead!’
The Political Life and Thought of William Morris, 1883-1896 Speaker: Colin Waugh
William Morris was active as a socialist from 1883 till his death in 1896. While remaining a designer, craftsperson, artist and poet, he travelled the country speaking to working-class audiences on topics like ‘Useful work versus useless toil’, ‘How we live & how we might live’, and ‘A factory as it might be’. In 1889, his ‘utopian’ novel, News from Nowhere, was published. This talk will look at how Morris related to others active at the time, including Eleanor Marx and the anarchists who joined his Socialist League, and will suggest that his ideas may be more relevant now than ever.
Carols from the Coalfields
Speaker / Performer: Chris Harrison
A musical evening, featuring poems by Joseph Skipsey, a self-educated coal miner, set to music by his great-great-grandson, Chris Harrison. Joseph Skipsey, ‘The Pitman Poet’, was born in Northumberland in 1832. He began colliery work aged seven. Having taught himself to read & write, he published his first book of poems in 1859. Chris has set 24 of Skipsey’s poems to music, calling the project “Carols from the Coalfields”, after the collection which Skipsey published in 1886. The songs offer a rich & varied picture of life in the mining communities, while describing issues & experiences still relevant today. His CDs, volumes 1, 2 & 3, will be on sale (£5 each.)
New Leaf: A Botanical Phylogeny Garden for All Speaker: Vinnie O’Connell
Vinnie, botanist & plant historian, is Founding Director of this fascinating project in West Dulwich. They not only offer education, training & employment to adults aged 16+, but run a bookshop, maintain a phylogenic garden (depicting the evolution of flowering plants throughout time, starting in the pond with water lilies 140 million years ago through to modern cottage gardens) but also organise children’s activities, outreach work & create gardens in other parts of London. It’s a hub for local people of all ages who drop in & learn about the plant & insect life on their own doorstep.
This Other London – Adventures in the Overlooked City Speaker: John Rogers
Writer and film-maker John Rogers talks through his 100 mile journey on foot around London seeking out the under-explored corners of the city for his book, This Other London – adventures in the overlooked city. His journeys took him from the wild west of Hounslow Heath to Wanstead Flats, from Uxendon Hill to the seven hills surrounding Dulwich, Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam-on-Thames at Beckton, wassailing in the Lea Valley & many more adventures along the way. He will also share some of his research from the follow-up book instigated by the new Stratford Mega City development.
R F Mackenzie: The Last Word on Education
Speaker: Ros Kane
R F Mackenzie (1910-1987), a libertarian teacher inspired by A S Neill, chose to work in state education. As head of two Scottish secondary schools, he tried to run them in ways that caused great controversy, leading to the end of his headships. For the rest of his life, he publicised his ideas. Mackenzie wrote several well-received books. His biography by Peter Murphy is rightly called ‘Prophet Without Honour.’ Ros, with a background in teaching, community action, psychotherapy & child mental health, believes Mackenzie’s ideas are enormously important & relevant to our times. Does anything else need to be written?
Ethel Mannin: Feminist, Anarchist, Anti-Fascist Speaker: Andy Simons
Andy will unpack the life of this working class yet wealth-sacrificing writer, social rebel, tireless campaigner & author of almost 100 books of fiction & non-fiction. The feminist ignored by feminists. Ethel Mannin (1900-1984) was a lot of things: a single mum by design, an anti-fascist & anti-British Mandate activist before the Second World War, an intrepid & sometimes illegal world traveller, & consistent anarchist. Andy Simons is a retired curator of British books and worldwide jazz at the British Library. Prior to this he was Head Archivist at the Amistad Research Center, the largest African-American manuscripts repository in the USA. He presented on local radio stations for 25 years, in Providence, Chicago, and New Orleans and has written a jazz social history, Black British Swing : The African Diaspora’s Contribution to England’s Own Jazz of the 1930s & 1940s. Most of his time is devoted to Palestinian rights activism, as was the case with the author Ethel Mannin in the 1960s.
Cyclogeography: Journeys of a London Bicycle Courier Speaker: Jon Day
Jon Day is a writer, literary critic & cyclist. He now teaches English literature at King’s College London but before this he worked as a cycle courier in London for many years, & published a book in 2015 about his experiences. He will talk about the politics of cycling, the literary & cultural history of the bicycle & the ways in which bicycles connect people with places.
Community-Led Regeneration Speaker: Simon Myers, CEO of the Gasworks Dock Partnership
Simon’s talk will include slides, sharing some of his experiences from the grassroots regeneration of Cody Dock in East London. ‘Topics to be covered: the back story to how & why the charity GDP was formed; what was achieved by volunteers & the community; our long term mission & master plan for Cody Dock; what we have learnt & would like to share with others.’
Felting: Adapting a Prehistoric Skill for Modern Art
Speaker: Nicola Hughes
‘Felting, the ancient process of converting fleece to felted wool, is now a popular hobby & living for many crafts people & artists, such as myself. Whereas the everyday use of wool has decreased considerably with the advent of modern materials, the recent expansion of felting skills is leading to new & exciting uses for wool. This in turn has begun to improve the outlook for sheep farmers & led to an improvement in the fortunes of those rare breeds with specialist wools. This talk will include some practical participation in a small seasonal bit of felt making!’ Please bring a towel & a cup.