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72 years on—now Battle of Cable Street hits the big screen

PUBLISHED: 18:18 29 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:43 05 October 2010

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THE premier of a documentary film about the notorious 1936 Battle of Cable Street' in London's East End is being screened at the TUC headquarters on Thursday evening (October 30) and is open to the public. The TUC has organised a Jewish History celebration featuring the documentary which was filmed in Cable Street two years ago by director Yoav Segal—grandson of one of the activists who organised resistance to Mosley's Blackshirts 72 years ago

ABOVE: Protesters in October, 1936, stop Mosley’s Blackshirt fascists getting through Cable Street (top) and the earlier confrontation with the crowds at Gardiner’s Corner when a tram blocked the Blackshirt march getting through to Whitechapel

BELOW: On film location in 2006 at the commemorative mural in Cable Street were, left to right, the film’s director Barry Wasserman, child actor Sam Chaoui (background) playing the co-lead grandchild, producer Yoav Segal and actor Leon Lissek playing co-lead Granddad

Mike Brooke

THE premier of a documentary film about the notorious 1936 Battle of Cable Street’ in London’s East End is being screened at the TUC headquarters on Thursday evening (October 30) and is open to the public.

The TUC has organised a Jewish History celebration featuring the documentary which was filmed in Cable Street two years ago by director Yoav Segal—grandson of one of the activists who organised resistance to Mosley’s Blackshirts 72 years ago.

It is followed by a panel discussion with social commentator Ubby Cowan and Labour movement historian Prof Mary Davis.

TUC Regional Secretary Megan Dobney said: “It’s important to celebrate the contribution of Jewish people in London.

“But there are those wanting to create a rupture in society by fostering the politics of hatred.

“The sheer bravery of all those anti-fascists that won the battle of Cable Street against Mosley’s Blackshirts is an inspiration—our knowledge of the past better informs our campaigns of the future.”

Yoav Segal returned to the streets of Whitechapel and Shadwell in 2006 where his grandfather Ubby Cowan organised the campaign to stop Mosley and his Union of British Fascists marching through the East End 70 years earlier—and was injured in clashes with police.

He made an appearance in 2006 on the 70th anniversary of the battle’ at a public meeting at the East End’s Toynbee Hall settlement in Whitechapel, to recall his experiences that day. He was 89 by then.

“I was in charge of the protest at Gardiner’s Corner,” he told the audience. “I was pushed back by police into a shop window and had to get treatment at the first aid station we set up in Backchurch Lane.

“I had to go to the London Hospital and had a few stitches in my head.

“It was Jack Dash and his dockers who weeks before planned the barricade in Cable Street, near the corner of Christian Street, if the Government didn’t ban the march.”

His grandson Yoav’s film is based on his memories. It is set as Cable Street being revisited, looking back on the events in the 1930s Depression when the Jewish community was joined by Irish dockers to stop Mosley marching along Whitechapel Road.

Police fearing racial riots diverted the fascists’ march along Cable Street instead—less provocative than Whitechapel’s Jewish garment district, they thought.

But trade unionists and communist activists got wind of the diversion and marshalled an army of protesters who headed for Cable Street and met the Blackshirts head on.

The Blackshirt march ended in disarray, with protesters chanting They Shall Not Pass”—and they didn’t.

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The day I fought the Blackshirts in Battle of Cable Street

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My father wasn’t valiantly’ beaten at Cable Street, he just marched away—Nicholas Mosley

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