Protest at Whitechapel Road and Commercial Street

Series: East End Series

Artist information

Name John Allin (1934-1991)

Born London, England

Died London, England

Find more work in the collection by this artist

John Allin (1943 - 1991) was born in East London. He began to paint whilst serving a six month prison sentence for minor theft. He first exhibited his work in 1969 at the Portal Gallery and in 1979 won the international Prix Suisse Du Peinture Naïve award.

Object Details

Date 1975

Object type print

Medium print on paper

Materials and techniques lithography (technique) paper (support)

Unframed 48.5 x 65 cm

Framed 66.5 x 82 cm

Signed signed and dated, bottom right: John Allin 75

Acquisition gift from Mr Jonathan Stone 1982

Accession number 1987-6vii

Display status not on display

John Allin's print was created in the East End of London, where he was born and grew up. Allin depicts the Anti-Fascist rally known as the 'Battle of Cable Street', which took place in East London in 1936. The community was protesting against the British Union of Fascists - known as the Blackshirts - led by Oswald Mosley. The scene, at Gardiners' Corner, shows thousands of protestors, waving banners worded with slogans such as 'They Shall Not Pass', 'East End Unite', and 'No Nazis Here'. Uniformed policemen, some on horseback, prevent them from passing by barricading them with rows of furniture. There is an almost overwhelming sense of community and togetherness. It depicts thousands of people including local Jewish, communist, socialist, anarchist, and Irish groups, uniting as one in the battle against Fascism. The print was made in 1975, at a time when many Jewish people had left, or were leaving the East End to reside in better homes in the suburbs. It was painted nearly 40 years after the protest and so is a retrospective work, based on childhood memories. The image provides a touching account of many different East End inhabitants joining forces, fighting together to protest against the same cause. The artist nostalgically recalls a period from the past when a tight community were living together as one, sharing aims and sentiments. Allin's print serves as an eternal reminder of a time past; when a thriving Jewish community, rich in culture and tradition, resided in East London. It provides historical evidence of this time, much like a photograph. It evokes many sentimental memories of these days to those that remember them, and shares the experiences with those that don't.


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© John Allin estate