Remembering and reflecting on the 'Battle of Lewisham' in August 1977, when a mobilisation by the far-right National Front in South East London was met by mass opposition

Monday 13 August 2007

Photo Gallery

These photographs of 13 August 1977 show some of the main flashpoints in New Cross and later in Lewisham town centre. If you know any more about the incidents shown, please get in touch. If you are the photographer, or know the photographer, get in touch. We are also interested in any other photographs or stories you may have.

Many of these photographs are taken from Camerawork, a radical photography magazine. We are very pleased to say that two of these images have been provided by Camerawork photographer Paul Trevor. Please check back for details on Paul Trevor's website.

Cover of Camerwork special issue (photo by Paul Trevor)

1. Fighting as anti-fascists break through police line, Clifton Rise (Peter Marlow)

2. Hand to hand fighting (in New Cross Road?) (Peter Marlow)

3. More fighting in New Cross Road (Peter Marlow)

4. Mounted police in New Cross Road (Mike Abrahams)

4. Anti-fascists with captured NF banners (Peter Marlow)

5. Black youth remonstrates with police, Lewisham High St (Homer Sykes)

6. The anti-NF crowd, New Cross Rd, before the march (Paul Trevor)

7. An arrest,Clifton Rise (Peter Marlow)

8. Policeman striking demonstrator, Clifton Rise (Peter Marlow)

9. Policeman with truncheon,Clifton Rise (Ray Rising)

10. Police in Lewisham (Mike Abrahams)

11. Police with riot shields in Lewisham High St (Mike Abrahams)

12. Injured policeman, New Cross Rd (Chris Steele-Perkins)

13. Another arrest, Achilles St (Peter Marlow)

14. And another, New Cross Rd (Chris Steele-Perkins)

15. New Cross Rd. Anti-racists block route of National Front (Paul Trevor)


Anonymous said...

great pictures of the great battle, thanks

Larkin said...

This was the first time local people came out in large numbers to join the left in fighting the fascists. From then on this became the norm. An important day

Anonymous said...

After this the nature of anti fascist fighting changed. ~From lefties chasing nazis around the country to mobilising local people to come out on the street with the local left and actually beat the fascists both physically and politically. Great!

Anonymous said...

I was in Lewisham on 13th August 1977, as a member of the National Front, and I took part in the march.The photos of the day on your site brought back so many memories. Thirty years after the event I'm ashamed of being part of such an attack on the people of Lewisham.
The actual fighting between us and the counter demonstrators was over very quickly. I remember us NF marchers coming up Clifton Rise, and all the bottles and sticks raining down on us. I wore a builder's helmet, and most of us seemed to be really enjoying ourselves. We had come prepared for a fight. Anyway, now I'm older and a bit wiser. Sorry to the people I offended and attacked.

Anonymous said...

I lived at that time i got attacked and beaten many times this site brings back sad memories i hope everyone who attacked blacks and other may come back to his senses

Anonymous said...

I was there as one of the local people who came to demonstrate peacefully and remember that it was a sea of white loonie lefties who'd come to fight with the police regardless of what the occasion was.

Doesn't anyone recognise the shame attached with this being the first occasion in Britain that riot shields had to be used to quell a bunch of undisciplined thugs (and I've not even mentioned the NF who had no place in NX that day or any other day).

The only funny thing that day was the bus that was diverted down Edward Street and got well and truly stuck under the railway bridge.

Anonymous said...

I was 17 on August 13 1977. Myself and a friend lived in Lewisham and decided to go and confront the NF. We talked about the probability there would be police violence. I remember being nervous, excited and invincible all at the same time.

As a young black man I'd never gone toe to toe with coppers and I was looking forward to some payback for all the slagging off I'd taken from them.

My friend, Michael Johnstone, is the young man in the photo gallery wearing the "MICK" t-shirt who wrestled the Union Jack from an NF supporter. That moment appeared in the Sex Pistols' 'Anarchy in the UK' video, and a shot of it was on the cover of Paris Match.

Later in the day some Millwall fans joined the NF ranks, resulting in the appalling sight of black Millwall fans marching with the NF. What morons.

There was a rumour floating about that a copper had been killed, and it set the filth right off. I remember seeing lots of blood, mostly from head injuries caused by police batons. The cops were cracking head indiscriminately. I remember waves of police baton charges around Lewisham precinct. It's a miracle nobody got killed.

A group of us ran and huddled in a doorway during a charge. The girl right next to me took a massive blow to the head from this copper who looked demented; he was practically foaming at the mouth. She was streaming blood from a gaping wound.

After that we went mental too. We linked up with some tooled-up youths from Brixton who were copper-hunting and kicked the shite out of as many as we could.

I remember a mounted copper charging into the crowd kicking and swinging. We dragged him off his horse and gave him a right kicking. (What animal has a dick on its back? A police horse.)

At a roadblock on the way home, some coppers pushed me around. I just smiled politely and took it. I reckoned I was well ahead.

Micheal is the son of the late Monty Johnstone, founder of the socialist paper The Challenge, who died recently. I haven't seen Michael for twenty years; if anybody knows where he is. please email me at

Anonymous said...

i was 9 years old and remembered the anticipation. my mum saying "dont go down there.." I did and I followed an ever swelling group of black men, Saxon sound men,blokes I played football with up Hilly Fields and my mate Marcus, down Algernon Rd with bats and sticks. I got to the church and I could hear the roar. I knew it wasn't for me, I grabbed Marcus and turned back. I know now what was going on. why i felt the anticipation because as a 41yr old black man born in south london I have encouterd racism all my life (its got London..)and its good to share my experiences and I feel comforted by those of others.

Anonymous said...

These pictures bring back memories I was there. Looking back it was so violent then But it set out to be peaceful. Now I'much older it's sad to see crime riots on a different level. Please can there be peace.