December 8, 2023

The 70s 80s 90s Blog

Three Decades of History with TV historian Tony McMahon

Anti Nazi League carnivals in 1978 – even one in Walthamstow

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Anti Nazi League carnivals in 1978 - even one in Walthamstow

For years, I remembered the 1978 Anti-Nazi League carnival in Victoria Park, Mile End with a big warm glow – The Clash, Tom Robinson Band and X-Ray Spex and many others played. I was fifteen years old and it was amazingly excited.

The demonstration started in Trafalgar Square and when I arrived at Embankment tube station, loads of punks leaped over the barriers while tube employees tried to hold them back. Round every street corner were big police vans full of coppers waiting to pounce.

And then Trafalgar Square. In those days, Nelson’s column was covered in soot and the buildings seemed darker and greyer – they all got a clean up in the 1980s. But it was the noise that gripped my attention.

Somebody yelling on a megaphone and then X-Ray Spex belting out a number. The whole mass of people moved off and we marched for what seemed like an eternity to Mile End.

There wasn’t just the one carnival that year. Another carnival rocked south London and – I’d quite forgotten – there was a Walthamstow carnival. This followed a racial attack in the area, one of several acts of thuggery by racists against the local Asian community. Here was the poster from that Walthamstow event – some bands on it I really can’t recall.

3 thoughts on “Anti Nazi League carnivals in 1978 – even one in Walthamstow

  1. Thanks for your interesting article. I wonder if you remember an Anti-Nazi League Concert in June 1978 at the Wembley Conference Centre? Lindisfarne, Bill Oddie, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Dave Allen and Larry Adler were down to appear. I spotted the ad for this in Record Mirror dated 10th June 1978 and the concert was on a Sunday – I think 11th June.

    1. I was there. It was Sunday 11 June. I don’t recall Lindisfarne, but it was a long time ago. The bluesman Alexis Korner was on the bill but didn’t show, due to ill health I recall. Dave Allen was good though.

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