5 Cally Road: 60 years of books and activism is an oral history project exploring and celebrating the history of one of London’s important radical spaces.
5 Caledonian Road, behind Kings Cross station in North London, has been the home of Housmans Bookshop, a radical alternative bookshop, and pacifist newspaper Peace News since it opened its doors in 1959.
It has also been the location of many grassroots organisations which have changed the landscape of Britain today, including the Gay Liberation Front, London Greenpeace, Lesbian and Gay Switchboard and War Resisters International.
The activism that has taken place in the building has opposed war, stood up for freedom of speech, fought the longest running libel trial in British history against the McDonalds corporation and provided a space for radical literature and ideas to be discussed by all. The building has weathered incursions from undercover police and attacks by far-right groups.
From 2020-2021 a committed team of young volunteers (aged 18-25) have recorded oral history interviews, collected an archive of material, written and performed fictional queer monologues, original songs, poems and verbatim radio plays, which can all be found at 5callyroad.org Reverberations,our sound installation, will be in Housmans bookshop from 26 July - 1 October 2021. We expect to publish a history of 5 Cally Road in early 2023.
The archive we've collected will be held at Bishopsgate Library.
Kindly supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, thanks to the contributions of National Lottery players.