A new political ‘party’


The Wall began as an idea – in short, to move a wall.  It was inspired by a search for the legacy of a time and a place – of Manchester in the Haçienda days. And realising in trying to find its temples that most have been demolished. In the wake of the 2011 riots, it provoked a contemplation – of 1989 and 2011, wondering what had changed.

A narrative emerged about demolition – of certain buildings and material histories, of social public space. And in parallel with their gradual disappearance, of places where people congregate and come together, it seemed a sense of social possibility had also started to fade.

The Wall emerged as a form of positive protest – to create from the processes of urban renewal a forum for community action, built by the hands of an open and self-creating community.  Amidst the regeneration of Chapel Street, Salford, a wall has come down – the east exterior wall of The Old Bank Theatre, built in 1930 by the Royal Liver Friendly Society to house its Salford branch.

In collaboration with Salford City Council, each brick was individually numbered prior to demolition.  They’ve now been salvaged and moved 100 meters east along Chapel Street, to a vacant plot of land across from Bexley Square.

On this site, permission has been granted for The Wall to be rebuilt – and once resurrected, for it to stay for two years until development is due to take place [see UPDATE].  As private and corporate interest increasingly divide us and determine our shared space, on this patch of Salford another possibility is taking shape.  It has the potential to be a site where people can once again come together – to retain the legacy of a collectively built past, and together create a monument for posterity and the future.

The phase of demolition is now complete.  Amidst the ruins much help is needed on the way towards reclamation / reconstruction / regeneration.  Please get in touch.

UPDATE MAY 2015:  Permission has been obtained from English Cities Fund for THE [SALFORD] WALL, once rebuilt, to stay as a permanent monument on Chapel Street.  It is an opportunity in the truest sense to preserve and renew the legacy of why and how the Old Bank Theatre building was built – in 1930, as the Salford branch of Royal Liver Friendly Society — as a physical and financial structure of mutual support built by and for a defiant Northern working class, under severe threat by the aggressive forces of post-1929 government austerity.

THE [SALFORD] WALL has always been a project driven by the grassroots.  If there has been any failure in the last year, it has been as a failure of vision on my part – to believe the project needed the support of those who hold the reins of money and power for its continued actualisation.  It is to betray why and how this building which formerly stood at 301 Chapel Street, Salford was built.  It is a betrayal that will be no longer.

THE [SALFORD] WALL will be the resurrection of not only a physical structure, but also of an alternative ‘banking’ system built from the ruins of the Friendly Society – the precursor to Britain’s social public state.  Details will be forthcoming.  To stay informed:

E-mail:  thewallmustberebuilt@gmail.com
Phone:  07766 130 860
Follow via this website
Or on Facebook / Twitter: thesalfordwall


THE WALL – sketch for a collaborative album.
Tracks, Jen Wu, 2013.

Audio samples from Madchester: The Sound of the North, Granada 1990  // BBC Newsnight, 25 Aug 2011

Audio samples from ‘Hulme Crescents – The End’ (uploaded by FASTF0RWARD)


On politics and parties
Paul Gilroy, speaking Aug 2011 about racism in the 1981 versus 2011 riots (dreamofsafety blog):

“The question is supposed to be was there politics in this rioting, or was it just a cry for help or a cry for things. And I think the question shouldn’t be was there politics in this rioting and looting, but is there politics in this country? Because when you have three parties who are saying the same thing…[applause] there’s no politics in Britain. There’s a kind of entertainment, there’s a bit of theatre, which is delivered to people, in the face of what is a desperate situation, which can only get worse, and can’t just be understood from a local perspective.

… So the temptation is to say it’s the same game as it was thirty years ago, or twenty-five years ago, and it isn’t the same game. For instance, the police admitted that they’ve done a hundred thousand searches under the new terrorism legislation, and of those hundred thousand searches not one, not one, led to an arrest under the terrorism legislation! So I think we need to remember that the game has changed.

And in 1981 there was a sense that they knew there were particular areas of London that were places which could blow up at any time, and the solution was a very complex thing, which involved soft policing, and schools, etcetera. And what we’ve seen since 1981 is the militarization of that structure. The criminal justice system and places of incarceration have become blacker and browner places—the groups of people incarcerated in this country is a disproportionate phenomenon.

To me that data doesn’t show, doesn’t suggest, that the people, our people, are any more criminal than anyone else. What it suggests to me is that they’ve been subjected to processes of criminalization.

… When you look at the layer of political leaders from our communities, the generation who came of age during that time thirty years ago, many of those people have accepted the logic of privatization. They’ve privatized that movement, and they’ve sold their services as consultants and managers and diversity trainers. They’ve sold their services to the police, they’ve sold them to the army, they’ve sold them to the corporate world…go to some of their websites and you’ll see how proud they are of their clients. And that means that, in many areas, the loss of experience, the loss of the imagination is a massive phenomenon. So that the young people in the courts today don’t have a defence campaign. They don’t have one yet, but I hope that one will develop.

… That privatization is also a privatization of the mind. Because in 1981 there were no computers, there were no mobile phones, so people didn’t have all of that digital distraction. There was no porn saturating the world that young people move through, there was no place to upload your videos to. These are big changes. They point us to something that’s important in understanding the difference between then and now.

The difference between 1981 and now is that the relationship between information and power has been changed, and our tactics for understanding our defence of our communities have to take those changes into account. …

… The media, owned by people like Murdoch, have a ‘golden hour’ after the story breaks, in which they can fix the story, and then that fixed story grows, like a snowball rolling downhill.

What we need to understand is that this doesn’t happen by accident. These things are techniques for making information meaningful, and we need to learn from them. …

… We’ve been talking about poverty, and one of the worst forms of poverty that’s shaped our situation is poverty of the imagination. … When we feel the impact of our poverty of the imagination, we reach for what we think is the future, and that’s always the United States of America.

I never thought that in a public forum I would agree with Sir Hugh Orde, the police chief of Northern Ireland, but he would say clearly that is not a situation that is going to be eliminated by the infiltration of American techniques. And I think he’s right. I think we should remember that before we think that the Coach Carter scenario is part of our future and the solution to the problems faced by our young people. [applause]

If we go down that road, we’re headed toward a society that’s run on the basis of mass imprisonment. And that’s not just about making the prisons bigger and fuller, making them engines for making money for private corporations, but it’s also about turning your schools into prisons, and turning your streets into prisons, and turning your community into something that’s much more like a prison. And we do not want that society based on mass imprisonment. That’s not our future. We are not Americans, we are not Americans.

… The last thing I want to say is that in 1981 and 1985 we knew we were dealing with a system. We understood the interconnecting parts. When I talk about the poverty of the imagination, I mean that we are thinking like people who approach these things through the lens of a privatized world. We only think of these things as individuals, and we don’t see them as connected. The last week has been an amazing class, a primer, to give us the opportunity to understand how these things function today. You remember that party they all had, in the Cotswolds…and they were all there, the Milibands were there, the Labour people were there, the TV people were there (not the ones from David Starkey-land but the ones from Channel Four News), and they were all there together, and they’re telling you something when they all congregate like that. They’re telling you that they’re a class. And they think and act and conduct themselves like a class. They chat to each other, they marry each other, they go to the same places…And if we want to act as a body, if we want to act in concert, we have to learn something from the way they conduct themselves, even as we challenge what they do.

So the pieces I can see in this system, the role of information, of policing, of deprivation, of inequality…And we need to clarify that we have the resources we need in our community—we just need to use them in a different way. Thank you.”


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