Harringay online

Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

I know there's a great appreciation of local history in the Harringay Online community.

What do people think of this, then:


My thoughts: Rather than destroying historic landmarks or erasing names of buildings, places and streets, we can use them as a springboard for more rounded education.

For example, statues' podiums generally have 360 degrees or 4 sides, but just use a small portion to tell a tiny fraction of their story. We can use each statue's podium to tell more sides and degrees of their story. We can use the room around every street sign and name plate for further information giving more rounded and fuller information about history - both positive and negative.

Doing so will help us to de-idolise historical figures. It will help us to recognise that humans are more complicated than that. Hiding historic figures (and thus ourselves) from scandals and successes risks leaving us ignorant. That cannot be a good thing. Few if any historic figures have a completely clean record or reputation.

Admittedly, no story, however told, is complete. They can, however, be updated with facts over time. At a time when we see so much "fake news", more than ever, we need to focus on facts, and actively seek to avoid misinterpretations of history - either wilful or erroneous. 

History is horrific. Being confronted with the horror helps us to avoid repeating the same mistakes of previous generations in the future. (An excellent example is Berlin's Topography of Terror, and various other installations identifying the terror that most of Germany experienced for most of the 20th Century.)

Out of sight, out of mind doesn't solve previous injustices or teach future generations. History and art is helpful when it's on our streets rather than masked by museums. Statues and other outdoor education installations are an important part of public access to education. The argument that they should be placed in museums concerns me. People from lower socio-economic groups visit museums far less than those from more advantaged groups. Removing street education will be a detriment.

This review is an opportunity to either increase ignorance or enhance education.

I hope it is used creatively for the latter.

Tags for Forum Posts: review on monuments, building place and street names

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I remember watching Top of the Pops in the early seventies and young women dressed as school girls, made to look sexually available, was a popular prop for some bands and presenters.  It was considered acceptable “entertainment” by the BBC then but quite rightly we would be horrified now.  History isn’t a static thing. We look at it through our own eyes as well as those of the past.

How do you feel about present-day Love Island, Naked Attraction or Big Brother ?

The statue to J. Saville likewise.

There seems to be a common argument that we cannot judge the behaviour of figures in history through a modern day lens which absolves the culprits of responsibility and blame. However on so many occasions there were brave people contemporaneously voicing opposition.

People knew that slavery was wrong in the 16th, 17th and 18th century (and there were people opposing it throughout this time) just as we know its wrong today. 

William the Conqueror brought in a law preventing the sale of slaves overseas and in 1102 "Let no one dare hereafter to engage in the infamous business, prevalent in England, of selling men like animals" decree form the Church Council of London. 1569 -a slave brought to England from Russia was set free by the courts because slavery was not recognised in English law. It did not stop people engaging in the slave trade but at no point can it be said that they didn't know any better.

Not aimed at you Michael just following on from looking at history 'though our own eyes as well as those of the past'.

Just to add to the discussion, very good article about statue toppling debate from John Siblon here

Thanks for that link. Great article. 

Thanks GP for the excellent Siblon article. And thanks, Brian Aherne, for starting this useful discussion.  I wonder whether anyone else has noted that last week Belgium's parliamentary chair called for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to address Belgium's legacy of empire. As racism seems endemic in Britain's ruling class, and perhaps in British society as a whole, would not a TRC look at the effect of the British empire on today's black lives that matter and non-black lives, too, be a starting point with which to address modern racism?

Did anyone mention that at thetime of abolition slave owners were compensated for their loss....nothing was given to those who had been kidnapped from their homes, kept in captivity under inhuman conditions and then sold as human chattel to be used and abused in a sytem that was based on 'racial' origin.

But the system based on centuries of one way trade = exploitation, continues -

"We have given you independence but want to continue buy your raw materials at a low price, process them and resell them back to you and capture all the value added too. So that we can continue to maintain our 'standard of living' at your expense and even if it means that you stay mired in poverty for aeons".

"Oh...we can give you a bit of aid...but you have to hire our consultants and our services. We can lend you money for this too. This is also so that what we invest benefits mostly...us, of course! We can also sell you arms and prop up dictators and so that you can fight wars amongst yourselves. Even if we then complain because this causes some of you to abandon your homelands and come to Europe to seek 'a better life'.

How long will this go on?

£20m was paid as compensation to slave owners from the public purse - worth about £2.5 billion today

Not going to lie, I feel like the statues debate is a complete and utter distraction from the racism and class struggle. It's a useful distraction for those on the left and the right to distract from not sharing wealth, not rethinking housing and education which are the real reason from inequalities. Frankly I find it insulting that some people, rich academics and the mayor think that by abolishing a bunch of inanimate objects which help the lot of black people.

Thankfully, we in the ladder should be fairly safe from street renaming schemes.  Apart from the seven streets or mews named for Disraeli's novels, I seem to remember reading that the British Land Company files, thought to contain some authoritative record of how the other streets came to be named, were all lost in a fire.  There have been several attempts at finding some kind of pattern to the names (including by me).  In my view, most of the names can be associated with respectable individuals but not uniquely and, so far as I can see, none can be tied exclusively to some egregiously objectionable person.  Oddly enough, Wightman is the one for whom a rational origin seems hard to find.  Perhaps he was a City financier, or maybe a railway engineer involved in the construction of Hornsey station, or maybe he was the coachman at Harringay Park!  All better ideas gratefully received.

Read this interesting article about the road names from The Londonist. 

I condone chucking the statue into of Colston into Bristol harbour because he was personally responsible for the enslavement of 80,000 people many of whom died en-route and their bodies chucked into the sea. When they arrived he had men, women and children branded with hot irons on their chests with the initials of the Royal African Company to show that they were nothing but chattels. The campaign to have his statue removed to a museum was well known and longstanding and the hurt caused to African- Caribbean people, descendants of slaves, living in Bristol from having to walk by it everyday knowing that their antecedents were tortured was difficult to accept. It will now be put in a museum and I support that.

My position on other statues is that we need discussion, statue by statue, to work out which would be better moved to a museum and which would be more suitable to have a plaque alongside to explain their complex history. (e.g Sir Francis Drake- first to Captain a ship to circumnavigate the world, a pirate, central to repelling the Spanish Armada, brought fresh drinking water to the city of Plymouth when the Mayor of Plymouth with 'Drakes Leat',  joined with escaped African slaves in Panama to fight the Spanish rulers- so they could both loot, had as his interpreter on some of his world voyages an escaped slave who asked to accompany Drake on his adventures and was paid and treated equally to the other sailors on board his ship, and a slave trader- joining his cousin Jack Hawkins who started the English slave trade).

Re Karl Marx- where to start ( apologise to any academics out there) in a brief post except to say that he developed theories of history, politics and economics to demonstrate how our society is organised. Many of his theories on the class system and his theory of history for example we generally now take for granted. He was against oppression of any kind wether in the family, at work, or in society and outlined that historically change occurred through the struggle against oppression; he wrote that it would take further struggle/ revolution to change the relationship between the ruling class and the working class. "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point however, is to change it." is on his tomb. Marx died in 1883.

I do not condone the graffiti on Marxs tomb, its historically incorrect and he is not responsible for acts committed long after his death; the people who committed those acts should be held responsible. I would be happy to see a plaque explaining Marx s relation to history and economics beside the tomb. However for people who used his writings, in my opinion for their own ends, like Stalin who caused millions of deaths, I would be happy to see any statues of the likes of Stalin removed.



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