The Camden Poster Workshop produced many protest posters for LSE students 1968-69 including one memorable occasion at a 1968 sit-in, write Workshop co-founders Peter Dukes and Sam Lord.

The Camden Poster Workshop (1968-71) was founded during an era of protest across Europe. Run entirely by volunteers, it fulfilled a need for the creation and print of posters by the many different groups who were planning demonstrations and protests in London.

In order to publicise their ideas and plans, students from LSE used the Poster Workshop very soon after it opened for business in the summer of 1968 in Camden Town. The students had strongly objected to the appointment of Walter Adams as Director of LSE in 1966. He had previously worked in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and was accused of complicity with Ian Smith’s UDI racist regime. Adams took up the post at LSE in 1967 and student opposition continued.

LSE Occupied poster

LSE Occupied poster

Fearing that the forthcoming anti-Vietnam War demonstration on Sunday 27 October 1968 would lead to a student occupation of LSE, Adams put up a statement that the School would be closed on Saturday and Sunday. The Students’ Union immediately moved to begin the occupation on the Friday evening and pre-empt the closure.

On one of their frequent visits to the Workshop, some of these radical students invited the Poster Workshop to participate in this student occupation (as prophesied by Adams!) between 25-27 October 1968, to coincide with the planned, much hyped anti-Vietnam war demonstration in London.

LSE Unchained poster

LSE Unchained poster

At that time Sam Lord happened to be working as a van man for The British Rawhide Belting Co. So the van was temporarily appropriated on the evening of 25 October  to transport the screen printing table – plus screens, squeegees, ink and other necessary equipment – from the Poster Workshop in Camden to LSE.

Ably assisted by Peter Binns, Dick Pountain and numerous students, they moved all the gear into the refectory where silkscreen poster printing quickly commenced. Soon they were joined by two stalwarts of the Poster Workshop, Sarah Wilson and Jo Robinson, and by Peter Dukes. Discussion of political ideas, choice of poster and design, and the creation of suggested images on multiple screens was democratically decided by those present.

March to LSE poster

March to LSE poster

Conducted in an atmosphere of dynamic productive enthusiasm, the Poster Workshop at LSE created some of its most iconic posters:

– Vote for Guy Fawkes: The only man ever to enter Parliament with Honest Intentions

– We are all Foreign Scum – A riposte to Tory MP Tom Iremonger who, fearful of the UK being swamped by foreign agitators, had announced in the House of Commons that “the British People are fed up with being trampled underfoot by foreign scum”. See Hansard for a full report.

Five placards were produced at LSE and carried on the October demonstration:

UK 51st State of US

Remember Whose Violence we are Protesting Against

We Must push back, pull out, break off the Fangs of Capitalism

Workers Control

Freeze Rents not Wages (purple version)

These placards can clearly be seen in videos of the demonstration and in photographs.

EMGNEW Marchers protest in Aldwych, London during a mass Anti Vietnam war rally. 27th October 1968. Credit: Alamy

EMGNEW Marchers protest in Aldwych, London during a mass Anti Vietnam war rally. 27th October 1968. Credit: Alamy

Posters printed at LSE were on the whole posted up around the School, and included:

– Occupied LSE

– LSE Unchained Solidarity

– Bite the Hand that Feeds You

– Revolution 68

– Puritanism will Castrate our Revolution

These posters explicitly illustrated radical students’ revolt against attempts to exert authoritarian control over them by an odd alliance of more conservative and Stalinist student bedfellows.

Posters printed at the Poster Workshop, by or on behalf of LSE students:

– Adams provokes Direct Action

– Open LSE

– LSE Join Us

– Link Arms with our Comrades at LSE

– March to the LSE

– Towards the Incineration of Academic Mystology

– They’ve closed the Sorbonne, Madrid, Berlin, Hornsey and now LSE etc

– The NLF are winning their Fight in Vietnam, What is our Fight?

– Students of the World Ignite, Join RSSF 

– Why waste the Tax Payers Money…

– Economic Facts – South Africa, Rhodesia – Attack

Two Schools Action Union posters printed at the workshop though associated with LSE:

– Living School

– Down with Skool

Contributed by Peter Dukes and Sam Lord (founder members of the Camden Poster Workshop)

More information

See all Poster Workshop posters

Buy the book The Poster Workshop 1968-1971 (2018) published by Four Corners Books, ISBN 978-1-909829-10-7

Read the rest of the series in The LSE Troubles

Visit LSE 1969, 18 February-15 March, a free exhibition in the Atrium Gallery.

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