Councillors support plaque to the Battle of Holbeck Moor

Leeds City Council heard a deputation from Leeds Stand Up To Racism about plans to commemorate the ‘Battle of Holbeck Moor’ when local people prevented the British Union of Fascists from holding a rally on the moor, at their meeting yesterday (10 July 2024).

Beeston resident Sam Kirk spoke for the group who, as we reported previously, plan to install a blue plaque at St Matthew’s community centre facing Holbeck Moor. She recounted the events of 27 September 1936.

Sir Oswald Mosley had been stopped from marching through the Leylands area around North Street where much of the Leeds Jewish community lived and instead led his 1,000 black-shirted supporters through South Leeds to Holbeck Moor.

They were confronted by a crowd of 30,000 who repeatedly sang The Red Flag to drown out the speeches. The fascists retreated under a hail of stones, one hitting Mosley himself.

Sam Kirk added that the response in Leeds had galvanised opposition in the East End of London, where Moseley tried to march a week later. She quoted the Jewish People’s Council who said: “What has been done in Leeds must be done in the East End.” Mosley was stopped again in the more famous Battle of Cable Street.

As well as inviting councillors to attend the unveiling of the blue plaque, planned for Sunday 29 September, Sam is very keen to hear from anyone whose relatives were on Holbeck Moor that day and have family stories about these events. She finished by saying:

“We are proud to be commemorating the anti-fascists of the past, but we must campaign today as well against people like Tommy Robinson who are looking to follow the success of political parties in France.”

“There are currently two plaques around the country commemorating events like this: The Battle of Cable Street and The Battle of Stockton. Ours will be the third and there are four words that link all three plaques and I think it’s something we should hold in our hearts: They … shall … not … pass.”

The speech received a standing ovation from councillors in the chamber.

Cllr Annie Maloney (Labour Beeston & Holbeck) said

“Sam spoke brilliantly today at Council. I’m so proud of our community’s anti-fascist history and that it could be shared in the chamber. I echo Sam’s sentiment, that as we remember the past, we look to the future and continue to fight for and celebrate the incredible diversity here in Holbeck, in Leeds and across the country.”

Cllr Ed Carlisle (Green, Hunslet & Riverside) added:

“Many thanks to those leading this brilliant project. As they say, those who forget their history are bound to repeat it. So it’s great to see this important local story spotlit – and here’s hoping it stirs us into action going forward, resisting those who would divide our communities.”

You can watch the speech here, it starts 20 minutes into the meeting.


Photo: Sam Kirk from Stand Up To Racism addressing the Council


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