Segments in this Video

New Cross Road Fire (02:45)


In 1981, 13 young black British people died in a fire; over 100 people were attending a birthday party at the South London house. Parliament's response sparked an uprising in the black community.

Black Communities (04:27)

Survivors of the fire talk about their childhoods and their communities. Many of them were children of immigrates from the West Indies.

Racism Against Black British (06:47)

Survivors talk about the racism they faced at school and from their white neighbors. The National Front was a political group that called for the end of immigration and more police. First generation black British children used reggae music to find their identity.

Policing Black British (06:12)

Law enforcement created the idea of a ghetto in South London by how they policed it. Young black people were commonly arrested for minor infractions. Racism was rampant in the police department; it struggled to recruit black constables.

National Front Demonstrations (04:35)

The political party planned marches through black neighborhoods; mugging was seen as a racial problem. The group called for repatriation of all black people in Britain. The marches drew thousands of protestors.

Battle of Lewisham (04:59)

Protestors clashed with the National Front and the police protecting them in the black neighborhood. For many, it was the first time they saw black British stand against the police.

Racial Attacks (04:12)

Following the Battle of Lewisham, black and Hindu businesses, homes, and apartment buildings were hit with firebombs; many suspected it was backlash for the battle. No one was ever arrested for the attacks and tensions rose.

Immigration in Politics (03:25)

The issue of ending immigration became a topic for national politics. Margaret Thatcher called for its end, saying other cultures were "swamping" British culture.

Paul Ruddock (03:51)

Ruddock lived at 439 New Cross Road, the site of the fire. In 1980, he got married and was expecting his first child. Paul decided to have a joint birthday party for his younger sister Yvonne and her friend.

Ruddock's Party (05:58)

Connections through family and music and varying ages drew numerous people to the party. People began arriving at 8 p.m. There was food, drinks, and a band.

Fire Erupts (03:51)

By 5:30 a.m., the party was still going, and people were dancing upstairs. Those on the first floor noticed the fire and stared running out. Ruddock alerted the rest of the partygoers.

Fleeing the Fire (07:30)

Panic broken out as the partygoers attempted to escape the fire. The thick smoke made it impossible to see and some jumped out of the second and third floor windows.

Credits: Credits: Fire-Resistance in a Hostile Environment: Uprising (00:34)

Credits: Credits: Fire-Resistance in a Hostile Environment: Uprising

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Fire—Resistance in a Hostile Environment: Uprising

Part of the Series : Resistance in a Hostile Environment: Uprising
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



In the early hours of 18 January 1981, in a house in south London, a birthday party ended in a fire. Thirteen young black British people died. The fire and its aftermath would ignite an uprising by the black British community. This film tells the stories of the young people who were at the party and the events that led up to it.

Length: 60 minutes

Item#: BVL276567

ISBN: 978-1-63722-899-9

Copyright date: ©2021

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.