It’s not all Banksy. In the 1980s, graffiti in London was less well organised and loved by all the right people. Most of of it got washed off walls or knocked down as the buildings it decorated made way for flats. Most of it wasn’t all that good. And because London graffiti was a copy of New York City street art, you won’t find it in museums or private collections. Peter Marshall saw it, too. But unlike most of us who saw the graffiti and walked by, he stopped and took pictures. His albums of 1980s London show us how it was.
Angel Alley or Freedom Alley is hard to find, an insignificant entrance between two shops on Whitechapel High St, immediately to the west of the Whitechapel gallery at the left of KFC.
Opposite the corner of the yard shown here is Freedom Bookshop, London and one of the world’s oldest anarchist publisher and bookshop, founded in 1886. It’s address is given as 84b Whitechapel High Street.
The shop has been attacked by right-wing arsonists on several occasions during its life, most recently in 2013, but remains open, and still selling, among many others, the works of Peter Kropotkin, 1842-1921, a Russian prince and geographer who gave up wealth and a privileged lifestyle to become the father of Russian anarchism.
The wall, fire station tower and Pontoon Dock silo and the two posts can still be seen on Fort St, though the fence on top of the wall is now solid, and the graffiti has long been scrubbed out.
George Davis for once in his life was innocent, and 36 years after his conviction in 1974 for robbery of the London Electricity Board in Ilford a court finally quashed his conviction, though saying “We do not know whether Davis was guilty or not, but his conviction cannot be said to be safe.” But for anyone requiring less cast-iron legal standards of truth it is transparently obvious that D/Sg Matthews had framed him for the job, provoking a mass campaign that graffitied walls and dug up the Oval cricket pitch. It was clear enough at the time and in 1976 Davis was released from his 20-year prisons sentence under royal prerogative, only to be caught red-handed the following year on a bank job for which he had little choice but to plead guilty.
You can read about ‘George Davis is Innocent’ here.
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