Municipal Dreams

Clay Cross takes its place – alongside Poplar – as a hallowed place in the Labour pantheon: a site of struggle and resistance, a town where a Labour-led council fought valiantly for its people, whose socialism was less an abstract ideal than part of its living fabric.  All that came to a head in the famous 1972 Rents Rebellion.  But it was rooted in a history, community and politics of much longer vintage. This post will look at that at that longer story and try to answer the question why there, why then – and, by extension, why not here and why not now.

In the early nineteenth century Clay Cross was little more than a hamlet at a crossroads.  A cross stood at the intersection of Clay Lane and Thanet Street and from that it is said to have derived its name.  But its history begins in 1837 when George…

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