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More from Emma Bryning

‘G. DAVIS IS INNOCENT’ Graffiti, East London

Under a railway bridge on Salmon Lane in the Limehouse area of East London is an inconspicuous piece of graffiti left in large white letters, ‘G. DAVIES IS INNOCENT’. The graffiti is one of the few remaining pieces painted in the 1970s as part of a grassroots public campaign to have George Davis freed from prison. In 1974, Davis was sentenced to twenty years in prison for the robbery of the London Electricity Board in Ilford. After family and friends raised questions about the evidence used to convict Davis, the phrase ‘George Davis Is Innocent OK’ began appearing all over East London and the rest of the country. The campaign paid off and in May 1976 Davis was released under the royal prerogative on the advice of the then home secretary, Roy Jenkins. However, only 18-months later, Davis was caught robbing the bank of Cyprus in Holloway and pleaded guilty to his involvement in this armed bank raid. 

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.

The Lord Napier Graffiti Pub, Hackney Wick, London

For about twenty years, not a single pint was been pulled in The Lord Napier pub, located near to the Hackney Wick overground station. The pub was licensed in 1868 under the name The White’s Arms and was then advertised for sale, whereupon its news owners changed its name to The Lord Napier. During the twentieth century, the pub appeared in the local and national news as the site of numerous robberies and assaults. After its closure in 1995, the former pub attracted squat parties, became known as a destination for illegal raves in the early 2000s and began to be covered in graffiti. In 2016, artist Aida Wilde commissioned 29 local street artists as part of a 48-hour takeover of the building as a ‘symbol of protest against [the] gentrification’ which was happening in the local area. The pub has been attracting tourists to its ever changing exterior ever since it was reimagined with its iconic graffiti makeover. After attracting new ownership, the pub is expected to go through an extensive programme of refurbishment. 

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Paul’s Cross

The north-east corner of St Paul’s Churchyard was from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries a space where people came to gather and hear sermons preached from an open-air pulpit. During the fierce debates of the Reformation it was on the frontline of a vicious war of words.