The Deptford Heritage Festival returns this February for its third year running, celebrating the history and culture of Deptford with a focus on its civil rights past, writes James Twomey.
London’s largest heritage festival will showcase the production of a play, Liberty, which tells the life story of Deptford local, Kath Duncan, an activist whose two jail terms laid the groundwork for The National Council of Civil Liberties.
Traditionally held over the first bank holiday in May, the Deptford Heritage Festival brings together local schools, community groups, choirs, artists, writers, performers, poets, musicians, historians and local residents of all ages and diversity, to celebrate community and working class history at a period in our history in which gentrification seems about to erase the area’s awesome heritage, identity, sense of community, and place and importance in world history.
Liberty author Ray Barron Woolford said: “It seems extraordinary that most people are at least aware of the importance of Nelson Mandela for South Africa, of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Stonewall for the USA, and of Gandhi for India, while almost no one, including leading human and civil rights lawyers, are aware of the importance of Kath Duncan for the UK, and how a key battle for civil and LGBTQ rights was fought and won here in Deptford.
“In the year in which we celebrate 100 years of women’s activism, it seems more than appropriate that Kath Duncan, one of the most vigorous and successful activists of her time, be brought out of the obscurity to which she was condemned, most likely on account of her gender, sexuality, class, and politics.”
The festival brings together the country’s leading experts on people such as Lord Nelson, Christopher Marlowe, Peter the Great, the McMillan sisters, Kath Duncan and Olaudan Equiano, whose lives in Deptford have not just shaped the history of Deptford but of the whole world.
The third International Deptford Heritage Festival will be London’s largest heritage festival and will run throughout February.
Tickets for Liberty cost £15 and give free access to all other festival events except for the History Tour Bus.
All profits from the festival will fund a school holiday project run by the local community which keeps children fed and safe during the school holidays.