It all started with a pleasant pub lunch conversation before Christmas with my pleasant colleagues. “What are locations in London that are related to the history of our Federation?”
Over the holidays, I re-read our history book and listed-up the places which are linked to the foundation of our organisation and addresses where our head office was located, amongst other things. I put my thoughts together and ran that through with a few good colleagues after we came back from our break to sharpen-up the project. I am also wandering around the building and asking the same question to as many co-workers as possible. When I meet our retired staff, I ask this question, too.
The feed-backs are both interesting and diverse. At the same time, I am convinced that many staff are not familiar with the basic facts of our history. That is not good. Those who do not look back into the past will be blind to the future. When we celebrated our Centenary in 1996, we published our history book. I read it and supervised the Japanese translation. That is why perhaps I am more familiar with our history along with a few other senior colleagues from those days.
Did you know that;-
And there are more and more stories to tell!
In terms of the “mapping” our history, we have located;-
I took an annual leave today to visit most of these places. I even went to the Westminster Archive Centre to look-up a couple of addresses.
With the exception of our head office between 1938 – 43 and then to 1978, all the above-mentioned places are located in Central London. With more research, we could organise a walking tour when the weather is warmer. There are other locations like the Transport House on Smith Square which used to be the headquarters of the Transport & General Workers’ Union, Trades Union Congress and Labour Party. We could certainly add them on.
What I have yet to identify is the Cranbourne Hotel near Charing Cross where the fringe meeting was held in 1896. The librarian who assisted me at the Archive Centre said “perhaps it was short-lived”.
I also visited 28 Dean Street where Karl Marx used to live with his family between 1851 to 56. The ground floor has long been a well-known restaurant. I heard stories in the past that the owner would let the guests see the room where Marx used to reside, on the second floor. I also knew that they stopped doing this in the recent years. So when the receptionist at the restaurant said I can see the room today, I was overjoyed. But what I have learnt as we walked the stairs is that the whole building was refurbished a couple of years ago and those flats have now been converted into function rooms. So there was no remnants of the old days, perhaps with the exception of the windows.
From our findings, it is clear that East London and the Dockland are also closely related to our history. More research is needed there. Recently we also got to know of professional walking tours that are titled like “Anti Fascist Footprints”! Surely, we can add the Battle of Cable Street onto our walk. We also know a couple of colleagues who can take us around on their specialised walks.
So, more work needs to be done but all in all, this all looks really interesting and exciting. And it was such a meaningful way to spend your day-off that I look forward to my next one!