London in Summer 1968


1968: A Year of Protests

Protests over the Vietnam War, invasion of Czechoslovakia, worker’s rights, women’s rights, civil rights, and other issues were rampant in London, Paris, Helsinki, Berlin, and in cities in the United States in 1968. In addition to the more global concerns, university students protested about curriculum and funds for student activities.  One such example blamed for these disturbances that swept the student fraternity nationwide.was the Hornsey Art Collegel Sit-in in 1968.

Students attending the multi-site college convened at the Crouch End Hill site to discuss the curriculum and the withdrawal of Student Union funds by the college. They called for a sit-in. During this period they set up a temporary administration of the college, and called for major and consultative review of the art curriculum, supported by sympathetic academic staff and visiting artists. They offered a major critique of the education system at the time,and some of these documents were presented as part of a project called The Hornsey Project. During the six weeks that the sit-in lasted, Hornsey became the focus of debate about the method of art education and teaching in Britain. The college was repossessed by local authorities at the beginning of the summer break.

Hornsey achieved notoriety because of the scale of the all night protests and sit-ins, which were copied in similar art schools around the UK.


Hyde Park Concerts

On Saturday June 29, 1968 in Hyde Park, Pink Floyd led off a concert that included T-Rex, Jethro Tull, and Roy Harper. The concert was held to coincide with the release of Pink Floyd’s second album, A Saucerful of Secrets. Most of the material played was from this album, with only one piece from their previous, Syd Barrett-led, début album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Roy Harper reportedly played the cymbals on A Saucerful of Secrets.  Thus began a summer filled with live outdoor concerts, including this one on August 24 (photo). Seventeen year-old Chris Marshall remembers the concert:

I went to two Hyde Park free concerts in 1968 – Roy Harper apart they had very little in common.Saturday 24th August was my first ever free concert of any kind though I had paid to go to the magnificent Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival the preceding summer. I was 17 in 1968, into music and occasionally attending London clubs like The Marquee, travelling up by train from Watford.This concert was in the Cockpit on a sunny afternoon, featuring a very varied and contemporary line-up: I saw Ten Years After, Peter Sarstedt (Eden Kane’s brother?), Fleetwood Mac, guitarist Stefan Grossman, Fairport Convention, Roy Harper and Family. The audience was relaxed, music great and the afternoon was generally imbued with 1967’s love and peace. My diary entry read: “Really fantastic and enjoyable. I’m so glad things like this can happen”.  From the archives of


New Buildings Rise Up

The mid to late 1960’s saw the rise of tower blocks estates, seen by town planners as the future of social housing and “streets in the sky.”  Six  Nightingale Estate blocks were built in 1968 next to Hackney Downs. They included  Seaton Point, Emblem Point, Farnell Point, Rachel Point, Rathbone Point, and Sutherland Point. Like so many of the tower block estates, the flats fell into disrepair and became crime ridden in the 70’s and 90’s. By 1998, the Hackney Council decided it was time they were demolished. Farnell Point was the first tower block to be felled by controlled explosion in July 1998. Four more buildings came down and only Seaton Point remained. A new decade of refurbishment began. The first phase of refurbishment was completed in 2006, the tower blocks making way for over 700 new homes. The final stage of regeneration is currently in the pipeline, with plans for 400 new homes on a two-hectare site agreed last year and set for completion by 2020. Photo below: Nightingale Estates in 2011.








One Kemble Street and Civil Aviation Authority House (CAA House), originally known jointly as Space House was built for the developer Harry Hyams as part of the 1960s commercial property boom and kept empty for several years after completion. The cylindrical shape was chosen in order not to block the light of the buildings in those streets. The buildings are joined by a two-level enclosed walkway. Underneath the building is a car park that originally had a mini filling station It is a grade II listed building with Historic England.

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