period around the mid-60s to mid-70s has been recognised as a time
of radical change in the arts and in society, colourfully, if misleadingly,
identified by the phrase 'drugs, sex and rock 'n' roll'.
The period was also one of worldwide grass-root
political action involving workers, students, and community groups.
The anti-Vietnam war demonstrations and civil rights movements
in America; the 1968 students' demonstrations and general strike
in France; the 1972 and 1974 miners' strikes in the UK, typified
such events. For a brief few years, confidently, and in retrospect
incredibly, 'we the people' could change the world.
As well as demonstrations and strikes the events
included factory and college occupations, lockouts, sit-downs,
teach-ins and other more innovative actions. In all cases the events
were characterised by grass-root direct action to confront the
Around 1969-1976 South Tyneside, and in particular
South Shields, was the unlikely centre for some of these events,
concentrated largely on the South Shields Trades Union Council.
Many of those involved were seeking a radical change in the social
and political structures. Some viewed them with a clearly revolutionary
perspective. Others, fearing a charge of what Lenin might have
called left-wing adventurism, would describe the actions
This book is an attempt to record some of these
events in a (fairly) objective manner by reproducing *contemporary
documents, pamphlets and press reports. The political/social significance
is left largely to the reader - except for my own comments where
the reader will need to set my prejudices against their own political
The Introduction sets out the social and political background against
which the events occurred. Each chapter is introduced by a brief
description of the events covered, and these introductions, read
by themselves, will give the reader an overview of the book's narrative.
The reproduced documents are accompanied by a running commentary
and are intended to give some detail of the events and a feel of
the period. The Epilogue briefly considers the impact of these
events (and others like them) from a longer perspective.
The book is not intended simply as an exercise
in nostalgia but rather with thehope that it will interest and
hopefully inspire contemporary political/social activists.
South Tyneside Central Library holds all the
original source material.
Please Note, this site is intended to promote
the book and therefore does not contain the contemporary documents,
pamphlets and press reports mentioned above, with the exception
of one image per chapter. Some chapters have been shortened in
the hope that your curiosity will compel you to buy the feature
laden paperback copy.
Please click Order Book