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Walk It Talk It: Radical Publishing

Illustration by Laura Fitton

For this second online edition of Walk It Talk It, the SLG's monthly heritage tour, we look at the history of radical publishing in south London.

This route has been put together by Peter Willis and illustrated by Laura Fitton.

Peter Willis runs BOOKS Peckham, a shop selling a wide variety of secondhand books and zines. Peter’s motto is ‘nice copies of good books for cheap prices. 

Click here to find the route on Google Maps*, which includes the embedded illustrations and Peter’s extensive insight into the histories of each location.

Discover illustrations of the chosen points of interest below and short previews of the accompanying histories.


*If using on your mobile, please copy the link into your mobile browser rather than opening directly into the app.

1. Communard Gallery
18 Camberwell Church Street (now Tuckers Solicitors)

Run by the League of Socialist Artists, Communard Gallery (1971–1975) put on exhibitions, organised talks and published pamphlets.

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2. 76 Peckham Road

This address was squatted in the mid-70s by a group of anarchists including illustrator Clifford Harper, who painted the 76 which adorns the front wall to this day. Various publishing projects were run from the house including Harper’s own Class War Comix (published by Epic Productions) as well as Black Bear Press.

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3. The Bookplace
13 Peckham High Street (now Lux Fabrics)

Founded in 1977, the Bookplace consisted of a bookshop downstairs, and the Peckham Literacy Centre upstairs, which hosted adult education classes and the Peckham Publishing Project. 

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4. Thames Bookshop
91 Peckham High Street (now Pempeople)

Thames were a short-lived chain of bookshops run by the London District branch of the Communist Party in the forties. 

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5. 83 Astbury Road

This inauspicious house was the Peckham branch of the Black Unity & Freedom Party, which was formed in 1970.

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6. 164 Queens Road

This was the home of Dr. Harold Moody and served as a key meeting point and hub of the League of Coloured People, the civil rights organisation founded by him and others in 1931. 

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This is my shop which (when open) sells all kinds of secondhand books and zines. My motto is ‘nice copies of good books for cheap prices’.

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8. Peckham Black Women’s Centre
69 Bellenden Road

Bellenden Road has over the years housed two community centres. The Peckham Black Women’s Centre (1981–1990) was at number 69. Formed as part of the OWAAD (The Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent) Network, the group published a newsletter called ‘Root’, and a magazine called ‘In Print’. 

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9. Blake’s Tree
Peckham Rye

No literary tour of Peckham would be complete without an homage to the site of a ten year old William Blake’s angelic vision. The young Blake walked from the city of London to Peckham Rye and saw a vision; “A tree filled with angels, bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars”.

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