Written by Radio

London Riots

Enough has really been said already about the looting and rioting that took place last week, without me needing to wade in with any more “insight”. That said… I’m very disturbed by all the talk of “shutting down” social media if such events arise in the future. Do we also close down the Royal Mail and the phone system? And 4 years for posting a stupid Facebook status? Hmm.
Anyway, here’s a gem you may not have heard. A few weeks ago, Radio 4’s Voices From The Old Bailey series looked at riots in London through the ages, and in light of recent of events it’s really worth a listen (indeed it would have been worth a listen either way). In Voices From The Old Bailey, court transcripts from the Old Bailey Online website are used to bring to life the voices of people from the 18th century, shedding light on the past. It’s a really clever idea.
In the Riots episode, which at time of writing, is still available to Listen Again to, several riots from different points in London’s history are examined. There were riots against brothels, political riots, and nastiest of all, the anti-Catholic Gordon Riots of 1780. 285 people were shot dead in some appalling instances.
Interestingly the programme visited Our Lady of Assumption and St Gregory on Warwick Street – which backs onto Golden Square which, as a Catholic church, was attacked. It was allowed to operate because it functioned as the chapel of the Bavarian embassy.
The programme also examines the element of “fun” that was part of many riots. Although at a base level, “rioting” was almost a legitimate form of protest at a time when there were few opportunities for ordinary people to have their voices heard.
All in all, it’s well worth a listen.