Battle of Cable Street

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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 took place on Sunday 4 October 1936 in Cable Street in the East End of London. It was a clash between the Metropolitan Police, protecting a march by members of the British Union of Fascists,[1] led by Oswald Mosley, and various anti-fascist demonstrators, including local Jewish, Irish, socialist, anarchist and communist groups. The majority of both marchers and counter-protesters travelled into the area for this purpose. Mosley planned to send thousands of marchers dressed in uniforms styled on those of Blackshirts through the East End, which then had a large Jewish population.


The Board of Deputies of British Jews denounced the march as anti-semitic and urged Jewish people to stay away. The Communist Party of Great Britain, under the leadership of Phil Piratin, led the opposition forces. The following year, he became the first Communist to be elected to Stepney Borough Council. In 1945, he was elected as a Communist MP for Mile End.

Despite the strong likelihood of violence, the government hesitated to ban the march and a large escort of police was provided in an attempt to prevent anti-fascist protesters from disrupting the march.[2]


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 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]


Commemorative plaque in Dock Street

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

In the 1980s, 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 Cable Street Mural was 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 original marchers from 1936.[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, particularly in the U.S.[9]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  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[edit]

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