Battle of Cable Street

Battle of Cable Street

The Battle of Cable Street or Cable Street Riot took place on Sunday October 4, 1936 in Cable Street in the East End of London. It was a clash between the Metropolitan Police Service, overseeing a legal march by the British Union of Fascists, led by Oswald Mosley, and anti-fascists, including local Jewish, socialist, anarchist, Irish and communist groups. The majority of both marchers and counter-protesters travelled into the area for this purpose. Mosley planned to send thousands of marchers dressed in uniforms styled on those of Blackshirts through the East End of London, which had a large Jewish population.


The Board of Deputies of British Jews denounced the march as Jew-baiting and urged Jews to stay away. The Communist Party of Great Britain also tried to stop its members from taking part. Forbidden from confronting the blackshirts, party members had to operate under the cover of the ex-Serviceman's Association. On the day, the Communist Party produced a leaflet for an anti-fascist demonstration in Trafalgar Square, to draw people away from the East End. Stepney communist Joe Jacobs, who played a leading role, was expelled for 'street fighting'. [Joe Jacobs, "Out of the Ghetto," Phoenix Press, 1991]

Despite the strong likelihood of violence, the government refused to ban the march and a large escort of police was provided in an attempt to prevent anti-fascist protestors disrupting the march.


The anti-fascist groups erected roadblocks in an attempt to prevent the march from taking place. Although the police attempted to clear the road to permit the march to proceed, after a series of running battles between the police and anti-fascist demonstrators the march did not take place and the BUF marchers were dispersed towards Hyde Park instead. The barricades were erected near the junction with Christian Street, towards the west end of this long street.

Eyewitness Bill Fishman, 15 at the time of the battle, recalls, "I was moved to tears to see bearded Jews and Irish Catholic dockers standing up to stop Mosley. I shall never forget that as long as I live, how working-class people could get together to oppose the evil of racism." [ [,,1884440,00.html Day the East End said 'No pasaran' to Blackshirts] by Audrey Gillan, "The Guardian", 30 September 2006. Retrieved 23 October 2006.]


The Battle of Cable Street was a major factor leading to the passage of the Public Order Act 1936, which required police consent for political marches and forbade the wearing of political uniforms in public. This is widely considered to be a significant factor in the BUF's political decline prior to World War II.

In the 1980s, a large mural depicting the Battle was painted on the side of St. George's Hall. This old Town Hall building stands in Cable Street, about 150 yards west from Shadwell underground station. A red plaque in Dock Street commemorates the incident.

Steven Berkhoff's "East" (1975) includes a depiction of the event; an eponymous play commemorating the events was written by Simon Blumenfeld and first performed in 1987; and in 2006 a short film was produced featuring a remembrance from a grandfather to his grandson.


External links

* [ News footage from the day] News reel from
* [ video for the Ghosts of Cable Street by TMTCH set to images of the battle]
* [ The Battle of Cable Street] as told by the Communist Party of Britain.
* [ "Fascists and Police Routed at Cable Street"] a personal account of the battle by a participant.
* [ Cable Street and the Battle of Cable Street] .
* [ Does Cable Street still matter?] . BBC News Magazine, 4 October 2006
* [ "The Battle of Cable Street: Myths and Realities"] – by Richard Price and Martin Sullivan; a leftist but non-CPGB perspective. Originally published in Workers News, March-April 1994.
* [ Virtual reality panorama photograph and mural information] from the 70th anniversary celebrations, October 2006

From ""

* [ Introduction to the Battle of Cable Street]
* [ More on the Battle of Cable Street]
* [ About the mural]
* [ Large photo of the mural]

From "The Guardian" newspaper

* [,,1884440,00.html The Guardian - Audrey Gillan - Day the East End said 'No pasaran' to Blackshirts, September 30th, 2006]
* [,,1884280,00.html The Guardian - From The Archives - Fascist march stopped after disorderly scenes, October 5th, 1936]
* [ Interview with witness William Fishman, aged 85. MP3 audio file]
* [ Interview with witness Max Levitas, aged 91. MP3 audio file]

From the BBC

* [ The Today Programme, BBC Radio 4, 4 October 2006. Interview with anti-fascist Aubrey Morris, who was present at the event and Nicholas Mosley, son of Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists. RealAudio stream]

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