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Thursday 23rd February 2023
A new tribute for victims of the New Cross Fire in 1981
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today awarded nearly £500,000 to support 28 projects across the capital to improve diversity in our public spaces. New statues, artworks and walking tours across 17 boroughs will receive funding as part of a £1m programme from the Mayor’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm. The grants offer communities the opportunity to develop ideas and share their stories in the public realm. Organisations applied for grants of up to £5,000 to develop a concept or idea, or up to £25,000 if the project is further developed. The Commission was created by the Mayor to help tell the full story of the capital, as the majority of London’s statues, street names and memorials largely reflect Victorian Britain. The £1m Untold Stories programme aims to help community organisations celebrate those who have contributed to the success of our city and, in some cases, pay tribute to Londoners who have lost their lives.
This second round of funding includes a plaque, panel, memorial bench and 15 tree guards in Hackney Downs Park will tell the story of the devastating New Cross Fire in 1981 in which 14 people lost their lives. It will also celebrate local activist Charles Collins aka Sir Collins who was one of the parents who fought for a permanent place for 14 memorial trees commemorating those who died, but for more to be done to remember the victims of that terrible tragedy and create a sustainable legacy for generations to come.
Gary Collins, Chair of the OGYG and Director of Operations/Chair of the New Cross Fire Foundation said "We are so happy to receive this help from the mayor to finalise this important story that devastated so many of us in the community this project began in 1992 and our founder and father would be so proud His vision is finally recognised”
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “It is vital that London’s public spaces are able to reflect the many different communities that make up our great city.
I am proud that through the Untold Stories programme we are able to support projects that will tell many more stories of the people who have helped to build and shape our capital”.
Friday 30th December 2022
It was a huge honour to go and support @cummin up on 25th December 2022. Richard Simpson (NCFF Director and his family generously spend their Xmas day feeding those who are alone in the community for free. My hat goes off to you sir for not only providing a welcoming place but also facilitating a wholesome community experience for bpth customers and volunteers alike. It is a great and wonderful deed that you deliver each year.
Blessings every time Robbie Gee - great to see you there, as well Sonia Collins supporting the cause. https://www.facebook.com/CumminupResturant
Gary Collins - NCFF Chair
Thursday 20th October 2022
Sir Collins’ unique archive collection made accessible for future generations
Hackney Council is looking for an Archivist to preserve and share one of the largest collections of material relating to African-Caribbean people in Hackney the archives team have ever seen. The unique collection of documents, film, audio recordings and photographs were created and collected by Charles Constantine Collins, aka Sir Collins, a club-owner, entrepreneur, music producer and activist who, alongside others, was responsible for the founding of the revered Four Aces Club on Dalston Lane and the establishment of memorial sites in Hackney to the victims of the New Cross Fire which included his son, Steve Collins, who tragically died in the blaze.
The collection provides a unique insight into local and national history. Spanning the years 1957 to 2017, the papers document the activities of several local community organisations as well as entertainment venues like the Four Aces Club, carnivals and street festivals and performances of many well known musicians. By the time Sir Collins sadly passed away in 2018, his archive had become somewhat of an urban legend. He was rarely seen without his camera, and although many speculated on the nature and content of the material he had collected, few had ever actually seen the collection for themselves. Thankfully, Sir Collins’ descendants, understanding its historical importance, have dedicated themselves to the task of opening up the collection for the benefit of this and future generations. Resurrecting their father’s ‘Older Generation, Younger Generation’ (OGYG) community organisation, they plan to leverage the material to support intergenerational community development and education projects.
Thanks to a successful grant application, in collaboration with the OGYG organisation, funding (supported by The National Archives, The Pilgrim Trust and The Wolfson Foundation) will pay for a fixed-term Archivist who will focus on cataloguing the material over the coming year. The role is currently being advertised and it is hoped that the successful candidate will be able to start work on the collection in January 2023.
“African Caribbean people have made an immeasurable contribution to Britain but often this work has been slow to be recognised. Archives like the Sir Collins collection provide crucial evidence of the struggles and successes of African Caribbean people locally and nationally, ensuring that present and future generations are able to access primary source material about their past and leverage this to build better futures. Hackney Archives is excited to be working with the OGYG organisation to preserve and share this unique collection.”
Dr Etienne Joseph, Manager of Hackney Archives
“I’m delighted that this amazing collection of documents, film, audio tapes and photographs will be catalogued so that it will remain accessible to present and future generations of residents and researchers. Preserving this important collection, one of the largest of its kind, is crucial to ensuring we remember and honour the contribution of the African-Caribbean community to Hackney. The set of materials provides a unique insight into the proud and diverse history of our borough and offers young people, who are keen to learn more about local heritage, a glimpse of the past and knowledge of the wider community.”
Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney
OGYG was set up by my father in the 70s to ensure underrepresented youth had an outlet for their talents and concerns. Supported by Hackney Council and local businesses he, alongside others, went on to champion a variety of pioneering and successful projects engaging the local community. OGYG has now been passed on to the younger generations of the Collins family so this work can be continued. We want the collection to be an educational resource which can benefit the whole community and are pleased to be working with Hackney Council and Archives Revealed to achieve this goal.
Gary Collins, Chair of OGYG
Tuesday 12th April 2022
New Cross Fire Foundation (NCFF) Community Interest Company Incorporated
We are pleased to inform you that the New Cross Fire Foundation (NCFF) Community Interest Company was incorporated on Monday 11th April 2022.
The Foundation has been set up to provide Training, Advice and Guidance to remove socio-economic barriers with the overall aim to build stronger resilient and sustainable communities. Our first priority is to publicise our services which have been designed with the needs of our communities at the forefront. As a new company we have been fortunate to acquire a new logo which we think visually reflects our vision. Please look out for it in the future for NCFF approved events.
The New Cross Fire Foundation
Logo Designed by: Ryan Thomas
Registered Company Number: 14039134
Registered Offices: The Play Office, 285 Albany Road, SE5 0AH
Telephone Number: 0207 708 4088
Wednesday 27th April 2022
In the lead up to 2023, the 75th anniversary of the 1948 British Nationality Act, The Making of Black Britain will launch a nationwide tour. Diane and her team will travel to cities, towns and villages across the UK. In partnership with regional networkers, the team will capture, catalogue, and archive hundreds of personal stories from the people of Britain in their own words. This is the beginning of an evergreen, living archive that will grow in perpetuity for future generations.
At the heart of the project is a collaborative digital archive created and curated by a network of partners across Britain, offering historians and future generations new insights and perspectives at a pivotal time in modern history. The Making of Black Britain team will work closely with academic partners to conduct preliminary research, create a research design, and write a treatment.
The Making of Black Britain project will embrace the use of social media, digital storytelling, and other collaborative platforms to collect and curate stories together with the public. Watch this space for information on how you can get involved!!
Jossett Lynch - right -arrived in Birmingham during the 1960s from Jamaica.
Creator: Vanley Burke Date Created: 1960
The Making of Black Britain: History in the making!
Monday 11th April 2022
On Thursday 31st of March 2022, a group of family member and survivors met with Andy Thomas (London Borough of Lewisham - LBL) and Vicki Amedume (Albany Empire). They were responding on behalf of Liz Dart, Head of Culture for the Council, and Gavin Barlow, Chief Executive and Artistic Director at The Albany following a proposal sent from LBL regarding the use of the memorial site as part of the Borough of Culture Programme which had not reached New Cross Fire Families and survivors for full consultation.
The LBL proposal was to install Linton Kwesi's Johnson's poem 'New Cross Maassahkah' by way of a speaker under the bench located at the New Cross Fire memorial site in Fordham Park, scheduled for May 2022. The meeting was arranged following letters being sent to Lewisham, including the Mayor, outlining concerns that the survivors had not been given a voice for over 41 years, which has led to many experiencing trauma and isolation and that there was a general feeling that it is time to stop having things done 'at' us, but rather 'with' us.
The meeting went well, and the group were happy that they were able to directly express their concerns about the proposed BoC New Cross Fire Memorial project, as well as discuss other issues, and were relieved that the LBL Officers and Albany representative agreed that the proposed project is no longer going ahead.
Additional topics discussed included:
The need to expand e LBL's list of New Cross Fire Families/Survivors in order to maximise communication/consultation with the same and prevent exclusion
Scope to look at what funds may be available/ring-fenced to do an alternative project in the name of the New Cross Fire as part of the BoC
The Opportunity to propose a larger project for the New Cross Fire Memorial Site currently situated in Fordham Park which we believe is not fit for purpose to memorialise the lives of our loved ones/friends
Gary Collins (Chair of the newly formed NCFF) who was in attendance said "as a space for reflection and remembrance it is crucial that myself, and others affected like me, feel that there is a place where they can go and reflect therefore it is imperative that there is wider consultation and as the Chair of NCFF we will endeavor to make this happen."