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100 years of Protesting at Trafalgar Square (Part 1)

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Almost from the time when it was first opened to the public in 1840 Trafalgar Square has been a centre for protests and demonstrations, despite the best attempts of the authorities to ban them. In fact the fountains were a late and vain addition to the plans to reduce the possibility of crowds collecting in the square. By March 1943, when Nelson’s Column opened, Chartist meetings there were forbidden and a general ban on political rallies remained in effect until the 1880s when the emerging Labour movement began to regularly hold protests there.

1908: Labour politician Keir Hardie speaking in Trafalgar Square at a Women's Suffrage demonstration. Just behind is the founder of the Women's Social and Political Union, Emmeline Pankhurst.

1908: Labour politician Keir Hardie speaking in Trafalgar Square at a Women’s Suffrage demonstration. Just behind is the founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union, Emmeline Pankhurst.

 

Sylvia Pankhurst addressing a mostly male crowd at Trafalgar Square, May 1909.

 

A face in the crowd, George Bernard Shaw (centre/beard), Irish dramatist and critic at an anti-vivisection protest at the Square. He was an active socialist and became a member of the Fabian Society, c1910.

A face in the crowd, George Bernard Shaw (centre/beard), Irish dramatist and critic at an anti-vivisection protest at the Square. He was an active socialist and became a member of the Fabian Society, c.1910.

 

The 66 year old suffragette Charlotte Despard speaks to a crowd in Trafalgar Square. 1910.

The 66 year old suffragette Charlotte Despard speaks to a crowd in Trafalgar Square. 1910.

 

Emmeline Pankhurst joins Norah Dacre Fox speaking at a large meeting at Trafalgar Square in 1916 on the Rumanian Crisis, urging the government to support Britain's allies in the Balkans.

Emmeline Pankhurst joins Norah Dacre Fox speaking at a large meeting at Trafalgar Square in 1916 on the Rumanian Crisis, urging the government to support Britain’s allies in the Balkans.

 

An American flag was torn by a spectator during a memorial demonstration for Sacco and Vanzetti, Sept. 26, 1927 in London which was attended by 10,000 people in Trafalgar Square.

 

Thousands and thousands of unemployed people from all over England, assembled in Trafalgar Square for a demonstration on Oct. 30, 1932

Thousands and thousands of unemployed people from all over England, assembled in Trafalgar Square for a demonstration on Oct. 30, 1932

 

An incident in Trafalgar Square, London on March 4, 1934, when thousands of people attended the demonstration of the so-called “Hunger Marchers." Mounted police are clearing the streets, and two young men here seem to have been in the way.

An incident in Trafalgar Square, London on March 4, 1934, when thousands of people attended the demonstration of the so-called “Hunger Marchers.” Mounted police are clearing the streets, and two young men here seem to have been in the way.

 

Hannen Swaffer addressing blind marchers from all over London who assembled in Trafalgar Square on Nov. 1, 1936.

Hannen Swaffer addressing blind marchers from all over London who assembled in Trafalgar Square on Nov. 1, 1936.

 

A young demonstrator struggling with police as the fascists from Kentish Town, led by Sir Oswald Mosley, marched into Trafalgar Square for their meeting on July 4, 1937.

A young demonstrator struggling with police as the fascists from Kentish Town, led by Sir Oswald Mosley, marched into Trafalgar Square for their meeting on July 4, 1937.

 

demonstrator struggling with police as the fascists from Kentish Town, led by Sir Oswald Mosley, marched into Trafalgar Square for their meeting on July 4, 1937

demonstrator struggling with police as the fascists from Kentish Town, led by Sir Oswald Mosley, marched into Trafalgar Square for their meeting on July 4, 1937

 

Sir Oswald Mosley’s fascist marchers had arrives from Kentish town for their meeting in Trafalgar Square in London on July 4, 1937. On one side of the police cordon communists give the clenched fist salute, while on the other side the fascists’ outstretched arms are seen.

Sir Oswald Mosley’s fascist marchers had arrives from Kentish town for their meeting in Trafalgar Square in London on July 4, 1937. On one side of the police cordon communists give the clenched fist salute, while on the other side the fascists’ outstretched arms are seen.

 

A big demonstration in support of the International Labour Policy on Spain was held in Trafalgar Square on July 11. Miss Ellen Wilkinson, M.P., addressing the huge meeting in Trafalgar Square in London on July 11, 1937.

A big demonstration in support of the International Labour Policy on Spain was held in Trafalgar Square on July 11. Miss Ellen Wilkinson, M.P., addressing the huge meeting in Trafalgar Square in London on July 11, 1937.

 

Large crowds spent their Sunday in listening to prominent speakers at a huge mass protest demonstration against Japanese aggression in China, organized in Trafalgar Square by the London labour party and London trades council. Ben Tillett, Veteran labour supporter, addressing the Japanese protest demonstration on Oct. 17, 1937 in Trafalgar Square, London.

Large crowds spent their Sunday in listening to prominent speakers at a huge mass protest demonstration against Japanese aggression in China, organized in Trafalgar Square by the London labour party and London trades council. Ben Tillett, Veteran labour supporter, addressing the Japanese protest demonstration on Oct. 17, 1937 in Trafalgar Square, London.

 

Some twenty members of parliament, peers, political candidates and trade union leaders addressed a mass protest demonstration in Trafalgar Square on February 26, against the betrayal of Spanish democracy. Lord Strabolgi addressing the demonstration in Trafalgar Square, London on Feb. 26, 1939.

Some twenty members of parliament, peers, political candidates and trade union leaders addressed a mass protest demonstration in Trafalgar Square on February 26, against the betrayal of Spanish democracy. Lord Strabolgi addressing the demonstration in Trafalgar Square, London on Feb. 26, 1939.

 

Some twenty members of parliament, peers, political candidates and trade union leaders addressed a master protest demonstration against the betrayal of Spanish democracy in Trafalgar Square on February 26. Dr. Edith Summerskill addressing the demonstration on Feb. 26, 1939 in Trafalgar Square, London.

Some twenty members of parliament, peers, political candidates and trade union leaders addressed a master protest demonstration against the betrayal of Spanish democracy in Trafalgar Square on February 26. Dr. Edith Summerskill addressing the demonstration on Feb. 26, 1939 in Trafalgar Square, London.

 

Lady Nancy Astor Member of Parliament, speaking at a mass meeting in Trafalgar Square in London on Sept. 20, 1941, to demand Equal war injury compensation for men and woman.

Lady Nancy Astor Member of Parliament, speaking at a mass meeting in Trafalgar Square in London on Sept. 20, 1941, to demand Equal war injury compensation for men and woman.

 

The Londoners forum has always been Trafalgar Square and as in peace time mass meetings are held by various groups to ‘laet off steam’. Also Hyde Park famous for its many types of ‘soap box’ orators still carries on Sunday. A mass meeting for ‘Aid to Russia’ demonstrations. There were two speakers at one time. Each speaking from a different side of the famous Nelson monument in Hyde Park, London, Dec. 19, 1941.

The Londoners forum has always been Trafalgar Square and as in peace time mass meetings are held by various groups to ‘laet off steam’. Also Hyde Park famous for its many types of ‘soap box’ orators still carries on Sunday. A mass meeting for ‘Aid to Russia’ demonstrations. There were two speakers at one time. Each speaking from a different side of the famous Nelson monument in Hyde Park, London, Dec. 19, 1941.

 

A mass meeting for ‘Aid to Russia’ demonstrations. There were two speakers at one time. Each speaking from a different side of the famous Nelson monument in Hyde Park, London, Dec. 19, 1941.

A mass meeting for ‘Aid to Russia’ demonstrations. There were two speakers at one time. Each speaking from a different side of the famous Nelson monument in Hyde Park, London, Dec. 19, 1941.

 

War heroes and factory workers were among those who took part in the rally in Trafalgar square, when the opening of a second front was again demanded. Thousands crowded into the square to hear the speakers who included Fred Cotton, 24 year old ex-soldier who lost both legs at Dunkirk and is now working 10 hours a day in a munition factory. A view of a section of the huge crowd with the Russian flag flying in the foreground on Oct. 25, 1942.

War heroes and factory workers were among those who took part in the rally in Trafalgar square, when the opening of a second front was again demanded. Thousands crowded into the square to hear the speakers who included Fred Cotton, 24 year old ex-soldier who lost both legs at Dunkirk and is now working 10 hours a day in a munition factory. A view of a section of the huge crowd with the Russian flag flying in the foreground on Oct. 25, 1942.

 

An American contingent with Old Glory flying, enters Trafalgar Square in London, March 11, 1943 when an Allied nations “Wings for Victory” march took place.

An American contingent with Old Glory flying, enters Trafalgar Square in London, March 11, 1943 when an Allied nations “Wings for Victory” march took place.

 

Three young girls take a keen interest in a speech by Dr. Haden Guest, Labour M.P., at a Trafalgar Square in London Dec. 21, 1944, demonstration against the Greek policy of the British government. The demonstration was attended by 10,000 people who called upon the government to refrain from using British troops against the Greek liberation forces.

Three young girls take a keen interest in a speech by Dr. Haden Guest, Labour M.P., at a Trafalgar Square in London Dec. 21, 1944, demonstration against the Greek policy of the British government. The demonstration was attended by 10,000 people who called upon the government to refrain from using British troops against the Greek liberation forces.

 

A man speaking out in support of the striking London dockers, December 1945.

A man speaking out in support of the striking London dockers, December 1945.

 

May 1946: Spinsters rally in Trafalgar Square. They were demanding pensioners at the age of 55.

May 1946: Spinsters rally in Trafalgar Square. They were demanding pensioners at the age of 55.

 

January, 1949: A huge crowd came to see Willie Gallacher, the Communist MP (he remains to this day one of only three Communist MPs elected in the UK without the endorsement of the Labour Party) launching his party's election campaign.

January, 1949: A huge crowd came to see Willie Gallacher, the Communist MP (he remains to this day one of only three Communist MPs elected in the UK without the endorsement of the Labour Party) launching his party’s election campaign.