Deptford: radical histories and great personalities

10 June 2017


Venue: Meet in grounds of St Nick's Church, Deptford Green, London SE8 3DQ

Organiser: Ray Barron Woolford and Tim Gluckman

Ray Barron Woolford, lifelong community & political activist, broadcaster and author 'Deptford' (a radical history); as founder of UK largest's independent food bank, wrote ' Food bank Britain'. Ray is a successful social entrepreneur winning awards for his work on housing & green energy, as well as writing on food , poverty & social justice , Ray is presently writing a new book (' The Last Queen of Scotland') and play about the Scot & civil rights activist Kath Duncan. Tim, an experienced tour guide, is proud to be a Lewisham resident; enjoys learning more about it

Deptford possesses long and surprisingly radical histories which have played a central role in English life: e.g. from the so-called 1381 to the deadly New Cross Fire (1981) which led to UK's largest ever Civil Rights demonstration. And the iconic Battle of Deptford Broadway (1932) featured Kath Duncan (about whom Ray has written a new book); it led to the first case NCCL (Liberty’s forerunner) defended. Fittingly Deptford is one of the locations where historical sites are keenly contested e.g. the huge Convoys Wharf site.

For centuries Deptford was the headquarters of English shipping: iconic tales of Drake and Raleigh happened here; school history has little to say about Colonialism though. 16thC globalization led to Deptford being England’s first BAEM cluster. Deptford Creek is now of great ecological interest where eg 180+ wildflowers have been identified. It is a fine setting for an architectural masterpiece: the Laban College.

Other notable stories foregrounded: John Evelyn, diarist and scientist created the first planned garden which was partially wrecked by his tenant Peter the Great studying shipbuilding; gay playwright and agent Marlowe murdered here; the Macmillan sisters pathbreaking educationalists; and Dire Straits who gave (1970s) free concerts from their balconies.