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In September 1960, the central London district of St Pancras was convulsed by rioting. What had begun months before as a peaceful protest about the lack of decent housing spiralled into some of the worst street-fighting ever seen in the capital. The violence shook the nation. All Metropolitan police leave was cancelled, MPs demanded an emergency debate in the House of Commons and a horrified Home Secretary used draconian measures to quell the unrest. The popular image of post-war Britain is one of peace and prosperity, but the disturbances in St Pancras reveal a very different history. This book explains the full story behind the riots as one ordinary community in the metropolis struggled to recover from the devastation of the Blitz and the Second World War. The events were driven by a cast of colourful characters drawn from a remarkable generation forged by war, poverty and the relentless ambition to build a more just society. Radical London in the 1950s demonstrates how many of the issues at the centre of the storm, such as inequality, turmoil in the Labour Party, migration and affordable housing, remain at the centre of our political debates today.
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About the Author
David Mathieson is a qualified solicitor who spent many years working in the House of Commons working as a political adviser to MPs and Government ministers. He now dedicates his time to writing and teaching.
Table of Contents
Foreword Rr Hon Alan Johnson MP 7
Chapter 1 A National Disgrace and a National Disaster 19
Chapter 2 The Mysterious Mr Lawrence 45
Chapter 3 The Peoples' Republic of St Pancras 73
Chapter 4 War Games 102
Chapter 5 Rents, Rats and Rachman 128
Chapter 6 The Mere Mention of St Pancras 158
Chapter 7 Rent Strikes and Riots 180
Chapter 8 Epilogue 206
Chapter 9 Cast of Characters 214