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Food and Frontlines: An Audiotour

8 / 12 Number 81 Sandringham Road, The Rainbow House

In 1948, elderly Jewish residents defended the writer Morris Beckman when he was chased down the road by fascist thugs. When Morris returned here in 1990, his Jewish defenders were long gone.  Number 81 housed an underground art archive. Morris looked for the Hebrew prayer on the doorframe – the mezuzah. It was painted over in carnival colours. Morris had fallen out of time. The feeling bled into the early drafts of his memoir, which became the The 43 Group.

In a letter dated 6th July 1990, Bernadette Halpin, Morris’ editor at Centerprise, criticised his portrayal of the African-Caribbean community in and around Sandringham Road. Morris took Bernadette’s feedback on board. His book, The 43 Group, when it was published in 1992/3, couldn’t have been more timely. It became a handbook for a new generation fighting the National Front.

Remember the two-headed monster in the peace mural? The new generation had to defend themselves from brutal police as well as the National Front in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and beyond. Sandringham Road was the Frontline, while Centerprise was a focal point for campaigns against racist attacks and murders... Rainbows are bridges to the dead and the dead never stop talking.

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The ‘Rainbow House’, 81 Sandringham Road, 2016 © Patrick Henry
Michael Ferreira’s funeral procession, 1979 © Alan Denney
Letter from Bernadette Halpin to Morris Beckman, 1990