Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Children to honour LONDON's first BLACK MAYOR - JOHN ARCHER with a blue plaque ...

Wandsworth Schools pays tribute to John Archer, London’s first black mayor and inspires students to be positive role models.

A series of school workshops were launched on 17th November 2010, to celebrate the life and times of former Battersea Mayor, John Archer at Salesian College in Wandsworth. In attendance were eighteen of the colleges young and gifted year 11 students and their teacher Patrick Dixon. Also present were Sandra Luke: a representative of the boroughs’ Ethnic Minority Achievement Services (EMAS) who have partnered the project, secretary of the boroughs’ heritage services committee Sean Creighton, co-founder of Britain’s black newspaper Alex Pascall OBE, alongside the project manager Lorraine Gabriel from the international events and marketing company Gabriel Media International and the brains behind the initiative Jak Beula, who said:

“The John Archer role model project is a fantastic opportunity to increase public awareness about a man who radically changed community politics in the UK. The opportunity to work with young people in the borough and let them take ownership of the project is also very exciting, and John Archer is more than an appropriate role model for them.”

© Image of John Archer – Mayor of Battersea (1913)
Courtesy: Wandsworth Heritage Service.

The month long workshops, which involve five Wandsworth schools and colleges, will be followed up by a blue heritage plaque unveiling in honour of the late John Archers’ contributions to politics and marks his achievements as a man of race in nineteenth century Britain, as quoted here from his speech given the inaugural meeting of the African Progress Union in 1918:
“I am, and always will be, a race-man.”

The project which ends in February will be accompanied by both a libraries exhibition on John Archer running for two months from January showcasing the work created by students involved in the project in three of the boroughs libraries, and will close in February 2011 with an educational book being launched at the ‘Teacher’s Professional Centre’ in Tooting on the former mayor.

The limited edition book will feature the collective works of the students participating on the project and is to be named as part of a competition by one of the students, schools or colleges participating in the project at a private ceremony following the plaque unveiling to be held at outside Archers’ former workshop and studio on Battersea Park Road, in the presence of the Mayor of Wandsworth – Councillor McCausland on December 15th at 11.30am.

© Cllr Piers Conolly McCausland has been sworn in as the new Mayor of Wandsworth.

The project has been developed by the “Nubian Jak Community Trust” and has received Heritage Lottery funding. Sue Bowers, who is Head of the London arm of the fund said:

“The achievements of John Archer are largely unrecognised in the borough of Wandsworth. This project not only redresses the balance but also provides a potent source of inspiration for local school students.”

John Archer was born in Liverpool on 8th June, 1863. His father was from Barbados and mother from Ireland. His father, Richard, was a ships steward, and it was as a seaman that John Archer first embarked on as a career. He would later claim to have travelled around the world three times, before returning back to England in the early 1890s – settling in Battersea, South London. He started a photographic business when photography was in its infancy, and had a studio on Battersea Park road (where his blue plaque will be unveiled). In 1906 he (along with Henry Sylvester Williams) became the first black councillor in Britain.

Seven years later in 1913 he was elected mayor of Battersea with the Liberal party.

After the war his political alliance changed and he became a Labour party member. He would also become active in civil rights and in 1921 chaired the Pan African Congress, an international delegation which took place in London in 1921. However, his dedication to local politics never ceased and he joined the Board of Guardians in Battersea, supervising public health and welfare. He later became governor of Battersea Polytechnic, and was active in the formation of the new Battersea Labour Party and was elected Deputy Leader of the Labour Group in 1931.

Later that year John Archer’s health began to fail, and he was admitted to St James Hospital, in July, where he died on Thursday 14 July, 1932, just a few weeks after his 69th birthday. His funeral was held at the Church of Our Lady of Carmel in Battersea Park Road on Tuesday 19 July, and he was buried in the Council’s cemetery at Morden.

The workshops utilise the arts through heritage, photography, dramatic and contemporary reflections to express the life and work of Battersea’s former, and London’s first black mayor and his role as one of Britain’s iconic role models and are led by a number of project facilitators including local historian Sean Creighton.

Add to this Nu-wave photographer Elle Clacken a graduate of Westminster University, whose preference as a portrait artist focuses on giving a voice to her work, utilising her skills within the industry to shed light on the work of John Archer as a professional photographer, and seasoned broadcaster and journalist Alex Pascall OBE, whose skills as a voice-over artist and writer-contributor to the BBC’s children’s programme Teletubbies sit well within the framework of this aspirational project. His remit to educate young minds towards excellence using the art of drama, voice projection and the use of speaking and presentation skills to evoke confidence always receive attentive audiences.

The John Archer Role model project began at Salesian College, Wandsworth in November, and includes students from schools in Battersea, Earlsfield, Southfields and Putney. This unique initiative is also being championed by Burntwood, Elliott and John Paul II Schools and Southfields Community College.
The John Archer Role Models Project concludes in February, 2011.


Notes to Editors
1. The Nubian Jak Community Trust runs an educational academy in London, and also runs the only national BME plaque and sculpture scheme in the UK. For more information contact: 0800 093 0400 or email info@nubianjak.com
2. The John Archer Role Models Project is proudly sponsored by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
3. The John Archer Role Models Project is supported by the government’s REACH initiative.
4. The John Archer Role Models Project is run in partnership with Wandsworth’s Ethnic Minority Achievement Service.
Press Office
5. For more information, opportunities for press, radio, television, logos and images (available upon request) or general enquiries contact GMI by return email hq@gabrielmediainternational.com
6. All biographical information was correct at the time of going to press.
7. Invitation to the ceremony is strictly by invitation for which an e-request can be made.

To obtain biographies, press passes, and to arrange radio and television interviews and filming write to: Lorraine Gabriel by email hq@gabrielmediainternational.com in the first instance with the header ‘JARM 2010’ or contact: +44 (0) 7941 143412

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