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 are currently being trained to collect and record these memories – watch the video from the training day to learn more, or explore the site to see how you can get involved.