Battle of Cable Street

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Coordinates: 51°30′39″N 0°03′08″W / 51.51085°N 0.05212°W / 51.51085; -0.05212

Battle of Cable Street
Flyer distributed by the London Communist Party
Date 4 October 1936
Location Cable Street, East End of London, United Kingdom
Caused by Opposition to a fascist march through East London
Resulted in Fascist march called off
Parties to the civil conflict
Lead figures
Injuries ~175
Arrested ~150

The Battle of Cable Street was a riot that took place on Sunday 4 October 1936 in Cable Street in the East End of London. It was a clash between the Metropolitan Police, sent to protect a march by members of the British Union of Fascists,[1] led by Oswald Mosley, and various anti-fascist demonstrators, including local anarchist, communist, Irish, Jewish and socialist groups. The majority of both marchers and counter-protesters travelled into the area for this purpose.

Commemorative plaque in Dock Street


It became known that the British Union of Fascists (BUF) were organising a march on Sunday, 4 October 1936, through the heart of the East End (an area which then had a large Jewish population). Mosley planned to send thousands of marchers dressed in uniforms styled on those of Blackshirts through the East End. An estimated 100,000 residents of the area petitioned then Home Secretary John Simon to ban the march because of the strong likelihood of violence. He refused, and sent a police escort in an attempt to prevent anti-fascist protesters from disrupting the march.[2]

The Board of Deputies of British Jews denounced the march as anti-semitic and urged Jewish people to stay away. Phil Piratin, a member of the local branch of the Communist Party of Great Britain, quickly organised opposition forces. The following year, Piratin became the first Communist to be elected to Stepney Borough Council.


The anti-fascist groups built roadblocks in an attempt to prevent the march from taking place. The barricades were constructed near the junction with Christian Street, towards the west end of this long street. An estimated 20,000 anti-fascist demonstrators turned out, and were met by 6,000-7,000 police (including mounted police), who attempted to clear the road to permit the march of 2,000–3,000 fascists to proceed.[3] The demonstrators fought back with sticks, rocks, chair legs and other improvised weapons. Rubbish, rotten vegetables and the contents of chamber pots were thrown at the police by women in houses along the street. After a series of running battles, Mosley agreed to abandon the march to prevent bloodshed. The BUF marchers were dispersed towards Hyde Park instead while the anti-fascists rioted with police. About 150 demonstrators were arrested, although some escaped with the help of other demonstrators. Around 175 people were injured including police, women and children.[2]


Many of the arrested demonstrators reported harsh treatment at the hands of the police.[4]

Between 1979 and 1983, a large mural depicting the battle was painted on the side of St George's Town Hall. This building was originally the vestry hall for the area and later the town hall of Stepney Borough Council. It stands in Cable Street, about 150 yards (140 m) west of Shadwell underground station. A red plaque in Dock Street commemorates the incident.

For the 75th Anniversary in October 2011, there were numerous events planned in East London, including music[5] and a march,[6] and the Mural was once again restored. In 2016, the battle marked its 80th Anniversary, and was commemorated with a march from Altab Ali Park to Cable Street.[7] The march was attended by some of those who were originally involved.[8]

Modern depiction of the Battle of Cable Street. The event is frequently invoked in contemporary British politics

The event is frequently cited by the contemporary Antifa movement.[9]

In popular culture

See also


  1. ^ "Cable Street: 'Solidarity stopped Mosley's fascists'". BBC News. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Brooke, Mike (30 December 2014). "Historian Bill Fishman, witness to 1936 Battle of Cable Street, dies at 93". News. Hackney. Hackney Gazette. Retrieved 28 April 2016. 
  3. ^ Jones, Nigel, Mosley, Haus, 2004, p. 114
  4. ^ Kushner, Anthony and Valman, Nadia (2000) Remembering Cable Street: fascism and anti-fascism in British society. Vallentine Mitchell, p. 182. ISBN 0-85303-361-7
  5. ^ Phil Katz. "Communist Party – Communist Party". Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  6. ^ Cable Street 75. "Cable Street 75". Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  7. ^ Brooke, Mike. "'They Shall Not Pass' message from the past for Battle of Cable Street 80th anniversary". East London Advertiser. Retrieved 2017-04-03. 
  8. ^ Rod McPhee (1 October 2016). "'We still haven't learned the lesson of the Battle of Cable Street 80 years on'". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 2017-09-08. 
  9. ^ Penny, Daniel (2017-08-22). "An Intimate History of Antifa". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2017-08-26. 
  10. ^ "Chicken Soup with Barley, Royal Court, London". The Independent. 2011-06-09. Retrieved 2017-05-05. 

External links

  • The Battle of Cable Street 80th anniversary
  • News footage from the day News reel from
  • Video for the Ghosts of Cable Street by 'They Men They Couldn't Hang' set to images of the battle
  • Historical article by David Rosenberg linked to the 'battle's 75th anniversary
  • The Battle of Cable Street as told by the Communist Party of Britain.
  • "Fascists and Police Routed at Cable Street" a personal account of the battle by a participant.
  • Cable Street and the Battle of Cable Street.
  • Google Earth view of the junction of Cable Street and Christian Street as it is now
  • The Myth of Cable Street on the History Today website
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