Segments in this Video

After the New Cross Fire (05:40)


By 8:30 a.m. on January 18, 1981, people began learning about what happened at the birthday party at 439 New Cross Road. The injured were taken to Greenwich and King's Cross Hospitals. The fire brigade continued to look for those still missing.

Fire Investigation (04:02)

Investigators determined the fire started in the front room of the ground floor and spread quickly. A firebomb was suspected based on witness accounts. People believed it was a racist attack.

Community Response to Fire (07:56)

Black activists and the media learned about the fire and also felt it was a racist attack. Activists created the New Cross Massacre Action Committee and started meeting with the families. Fire investigators found no forensic evidence of a firebomb.

Racists Letters (04:11)

Two days after the fire, families began receiving letters celebrating the fire and death threats. With no help from police, the action committee planned a response.

Andrew Gooding (02:22)

A vigil was held at the site of the New Cross house fire, but the media had moved on. Three days after the fire, police informed the Gooding family that 14-year-old Andrew's body had been found.

Fire and the Police (05:12)

Police said there was a fight during the party, but no survivors remember one. The police theory was that the fire was started with an accelerate inside the house.

Police Conduct (03:34)

Police dropped the racist attack theory and said a fight led to someone inside the house starting the fire. The action committee held a public meeting about what to do.

Victims of the Fire (06:12)

Yvonne and Paul Ruddock died in the hospital days after the fire. Those in intensive care slowly learned that many of their friends were dead. Police escorts were needed at Andrew Gooding's funeral because of death threats.

Community Investigation (05:40)

Police used leading questioning and witness intimidation to get witnesses to confirm the fight theory. The black community lost faith in the police investigation and the action committee started their own.

Black People's Day of Action (07:02)

The British government gave no response to the fire or the victims' families. The action committee planned a march through London. More than 20,000 people took part.

Battle at Blackfriars Bridge (06:39)

A large police presence met the march at the bridge and attempted to stop it from entering central London. Police attacked the marchers though they had agreed on the march's route. Media coverage of the event was racist.

Credits: Blame-Resistance in a Hostile Environment: Uprising (00:37)

Credits: Blame-Resistance in a Hostile Environment: Uprising

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Blame—Resistance in a Hostile Environment: Uprising

Part of the Series : Resistance in a Hostile Environment: Uprising
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The story of the aftermath of the New Cross fire and the run up to the Black People's Day of Action. As news spread about the fire at 439 New Cross Road, the scale of the tragedy overwhelmed the local community. Amid uncertainty about whether the fire had been caused by a racist firebomb attack, anger mounted at the police investigation and the seeming indifference of the press and the government to the loss of so many black lives. The Black People's Day of Action, a mass demonstration, was organised to bring the tragedy to the attention of the nation.

Length: 60 minutes

Item#: BVL276568

ISBN: 978-1-63722-900-2

Copyright date: ©2021

Closed Captioned

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