Online service will mark 40 years since New Cross fire this Sunday

An online service will on Sunday mark the 40th anniversary of the New Cross fire, which killed 14 young black people.

The virtual memorial, pre-recorded this week at St Andrew’s Church, Brockley, will be available from 3pm.

Throughout this year a number of events have been planned to encourage Lewisham’s residents to remember and reflect, including a window exhibition at The Broadway Theatre in Catford from March and a series of community projects led by Goldsmiths, University of London.

Damien Egan, Mayor of Lewisham said: “Forty years on, it is still difficult to imagine how the families and close friends of those young people felt dealing with the tragic loss of loved ones.

“The Black Day of Action was a brave and powerful act that resonates now as people have come together to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Lewisham prides itself as being an open borough that celebrates our diversity and has a history of standing up against racism.

“Not only will we continue to remember the terrible tragedy of the New Cross fire each year on this day, but we will keep speaking out in our communities and schools to make sure that we understand black struggle in history and in current times.”

Community projects this year funded by Goldsmiths, University of London, will explore the past and present of Lewisham’s black community to mark the 40th anniversary of the Black People’s Day of Action. Six grants of £1,000 are supporting proposals developed with local organisations and community groups.

Dr Kalbir Shukra, of Goldsmiths, University of London, and the Young Mayor of Lewisham, will bring together young black people involved in campaigning alongside older adults who campaigned when they were younger, in a workshop called ‘When We Were Young… Now We Are Young’.

A video archive will be created of people who attended the first Black People’s Day of Action in March 1981 to demand justice for the community, and other projects will focus on oral histories; a ‘scan-a-thon’ with Deptford People’s Museum linking the legacies of the transatlantic slave trade to the New Cross fire, Black People’s Day of action and ongoing black struggle in Deptford; developing local black history research and teaching in schools.

Black and multi-ethnic public history professionals will work alongside local teachers and pupils as final-year Goldsmiths history students support Lewisham schools to create learning packs and toolkits to provide resources and training for teachers who want to teach more black history.

The annual Mayor’s New Cross Bursaries also aim to help some of Lewisham’s young people from families on low incomes to achieve their potential at university. The bursary, established in 2006, has supported 65 students to date with living costs. In addition, Goldsmiths waives the tuition fees for these students.

The service will be available to view from 3pm Sunday here.

Pictured top: Firemen and police in front of the flame-ravaged house in New Cross Road, Deptford, where a West Indian all-night birthday party ended in tragedy (Picture: PA)


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