Today, it houses a posh hotel, an aquarium, a McDonald’s and ‘Shrek’s Adventures’ – but 30 years ago County Hall, on London’s South bank, was the home of a radical experiment in local government. In 1981 the Labour party won control of the Greater London Council (GLC) on a manifesto which championed antisexism, antiracism, LGBT rights, workplace democracy and community-controlled development.
In 1986 the GLC was abolished by Thatcher, reduced to a plaque on the wall of a tourist attraction. Most people who have arrived in London since then have never heard of it, but it had a profound effect on the city and on British culture. ‘A Greater London’ aims to recover that lost history, and see what lessons we can learn from it today.
Having been inspired by oral history projects like Remember Olive Collective and Heart of the Race: Oral histories of black women’s movement, we applied for and were awarded funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to collect oral histories from people who were involved in the GLC, and in the social movements around it. A group of volunteers have collected and recorded these memories – check them out on the listen to interviews tab.
The project is now complete, and to celebrate it and share it with a wider audience, we have created six exhibition banners which will be touring different venues over the coming months. We have also created a zine which you can download here, or contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to buy a hard copy.
Tracy Brabin MP talking in front of our banners at The World Transformed conference, September 2017