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More from Emma Bryning

Stockwell Park Graffiti Hall of Fame and Stockwell War Memorial Mural

The Stockwell Park Graffiti Pen, known as ‘The Pen’ and the ‘Stockwell Hall of Fame’, is another legal graffiti site in London. It was originally built in the 1950s to be used by children from the estate to play sports but attracted graffiti and later became known as a legal graffiti site. It has been used as a graffiti pen for over forty years and can be found in the sunken basketball courts of Stockwell Park Estate on Aytoun Road. Over the years it became a space for graffiti writers and artists to create pieces, eventually becoming a destination site for some of the best graffiti and street art in the capital. The site was transformed in 2019 as part of a £200 million refurbishment of the Stockwell Park Estate by Network Homes and it was designed in consultation with local residents, graffiti artists and architects to provide a space to showcase the ever-changing graffiti artwork and to create interior wall spaces which would allow artists to continue working. 

Stockwell War Memorial Mural can be found near to the First World War memorial and just outside the entrance to Stockwell tube station. The work was created as part of a community art project led by muralist Brian Barnes and artist Myra Harris, and was painted between 1999 and 2001. Many of the images depicted in the mural link to the history of Stockwell and stories from the local area.

Skateboarding and Graffiti at the Southbank Undercroft, London

The Southbank Undercroft is a space under the Queen Elizabeth Hall of the Southbank Centre that has been a very popular with skateboarders and graffiti artists for over four decades. The Undercroft was completed in the 1960s and became popular with skateboarders in the 1970s. Over the years it has been covered and re-covered in graffiti and contains work created by thousands of artists over the years. The history of the Undercroft was made famous by Winston Whitter’s documentary Rollin Through the Decades (2005) which focused on the history of UK skateboarding from the 1970s to the mid-2000s. In 2013, the planned redevelopment of the area endangered the Undercroft but skaters and local enthusiasts campaigned and fought to safeguard the site, through the non-profit organisation Long Live Southbank (LLSB), and won.

Victorian Police Graffiti on Myddelton Passage, Clerkenwell, London

Although they may be easy to miss, Myddelton Passage in Clerkenwell contains a unique historical record as a series of numbers, letters and dates can be found carved into the brickwork on the left side of the passage, many of which were scratched onto the wall by officers of the London Metropolitan Police. The practice started at some point around the mid to late 19th century and continued until around the time of the First World War, with many of the carvings referring to personal collar numbers and divisions, carved by local Police Constables.

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The Death of “Snakehips” Johnson

On March 8th, 1941, the Café de Paris – ‘the safest and gayest restaurant in town’ – was destroyed in the Blitz. Among the dead was one of the most important figures in Black British jazz: Ken “Snakehips” Johnson.
This viewpoint includes extracts from ‘Snakehips Swing’ by Ken “Snakehips” Johnson and his West Indian Dance Orchestra, available on ‘Black British Swing: The African Diaspora’s Contribution To England’s Own Jazz of the 1930s and 1940s’.
[CW: war; death]