Barking Bard Billy Bragg has finally been given a seat — not in Parliament but at Beam Valley Park on the Havering/Barking border. A metal silhouette of the songwriter stands by his portrait bench. Three benches have been installed by the charity Sustrans, which encourages people to travel by foot and bike. Billy explains on his Facebook page: "The figures represent three people from each of the boroughs. The soldier, W/O Ian Fisher who died in Helmand, is from Havering, the figure at the sewing machine represents the Dagenham women who went on strike at Fords in the 1960s for equal pay and I come from Barking." No truth in the rumour he's recording a new song Between the Walks to mark his bench.
Thursday, 29 October 2015
Tuesday, 27 October 2015
Tuesday, 13 October 2015
There's an interesting article in The Outrigger, the magazine of the Pacific islands Society, about the Pacific Islanders who fought in the First World War and whose graves can still be seen at St Andrew's Church in Hornchurch. Grey Towers, then a country house in Hornchurch, was acquired by the Army Council and used as the New Zealand Convalescent Hospital. Not only were more than a hundred New Zealand Maoris involved in WW1, but so too were men from the Cook Islands and Niue. The Pacific islanders had little immunity to European diseases and suffered very badly from the cold, many contracting pneumonia. Thankfully, the decision was taken to send the islanders home. They were withdrawn to Hornchurch before travelling back to New Zealand. Although there are some happy tales of nights out in Hornchurch and London, four of the Niueans died while at Hornchurch and their graves are still tended, and it's good to see tafuliae, necklaces of Pacific shells, still on the graves.