Yes! Another lecture! And more tips on how to waste time on the youtubes! This week: the 1985 Broadwater Farm riot in London. Extra interesting because of the recent London riots – about which much, much more very soon. For now, lots of grainy VHS-format fun below.

The first half of the 80’s were somewhat of a riotous period in the UK: the Broadwater Farm incidents were part of a larger series of uprisings. See for instance John Akomfrah’s Handsworth Songs (part 1,2,3,4), documenting racial tensions leading up to a series of riots in Handsworth, Birmingham (Wouter Vanstiphout’s favourite reggae band published an album about Handsworth, by the way). Also, Tom Cordell made a beautiful documentary on London and its planning history, but it is rather hard to find – here’s the trailer. For even more on London’s cityscape, we kindly refer you to Johnny Rotten.

But in Broadwater Farm, a police officer was murdered by the mob – something that hadn’t happened in more than a century. Everybody’s favourite documentary manufacturer – the BBC – reconstructed the how, where and who (or, in this case, who not) twice: click here and here (watchable in the UK only, unfortunately). Also, Broadwater Farm itself also has a devoted reggae track from the 80’s – and a number of, ehm, more contemporary beat poets, too. For more on the estate itself, see the BF Community Centre website.

For a comparison between 1985 and 2011, see this article in the Telegraph.

Picture by Cromacom