600-mile cycle journey in honour of those who fought in the Spanish Civil War
PUBLISHED: 10:58 04 October 2011 | UPDATED: 11:05 04 October 2011
Cyclists reached Tower Hamlets after a 600-mile journey to remember the volunteers who joined the legendary International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War.
The group which set off from Edinburgh on September 19 arrived at the plaque commemorating the brigade on St Georges Town Hall in Cable Street last Friday —ahead of the 75th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Cable Street. They were greeted by Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman and Battle of Cable Street veteran Max Levitas.
The 645-mile tour of Britain and Ireland marked the 75th anniversary of the formation of the brigade in October 1936 to fight General Franco’s fascist-backed revolt against the Spanish Republic. Seven of the cyclists completed the entire while others joined them for shorter legs of the journey.
They group called in at International Brigade memorials along the way, where wreaths were laid and homage paid to the 527 men and women from Britain and Ireland killed in the civil war between 1936-39.
The tour was organised by the National Clarion Cycling Club —dating back to the Victorian socialist cycling clubs —which in 1936 urged members to join the mass protest to stop Sir Oswald Mosely’s fascist Blackshirts marching through the East End.
NCCC secretary Charles Jepson said: “The aim was to commemorate the volunteers of the International Brigades and highlight the relevance of the anti-fascist struggle today,”
Many of the demonstrators who took part in the Battle of Cable Street subsequently joined the International Brigades.
Protesters at Cable Street adopted the slogan of the defenders of Madrid – No pasarán or They shall not pass.
The ride was supported by the International Brigade Memorial Trust, which keeps alive the memory of the 2,500 volunteers who left the British Isles to join the fight against fascism in Spain.