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The End of Steam. St Edmund. Southall Youth Movement

Tom Holland casts his mind back 50 years to the end of steam, asks whether Saint Edmund could lie under a tennis court, and marks the impact of Southall's Youth Movement.

Tom Holland is joined by the history podcaster and stand-up comedian Iszi Lawrence.

In Britain's recent past, a long hot summer has often coincided with racial unrest on our streets - 1981 is perhaps the most notable example. But while we remember events in Brixton, Toxteth and Tottenham, have we forgotten the tensions in Southall during the 1960s and 70s which, some argue, paved the way for better race relations in the UK? Lovejit Dhaliwal visits a Heritge Lottery project in Southall re-examining the importance of the town's Youth Movement.

King Edmund of East Anglia lost his life in a period of our history when the country we now know as England was still being defined. He was our patron saint until the 14th century but now he's largely forgotten - and so his is resting place. Historian Dr Francis Young has a hunch that he's still in Bury St Edmunds, not in a church but under a tennis court.

Fifty years ago, a programme that some know as 'dieselisation' reached its climax on Britain's railways and saw the end of steam in public service. Many mourn the passing of steam trains but, as Helen Castor found out on a trip to Swindon, keeping these beasts going was dirty, dangerous and laborious.

Producer: Nick Patrick
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

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28 minutes

Last on

Fri 28 Sep 2018 23:25


Tom Holland is joined by comedian and history podcaster Iszi Lawrence to discuss stories from today which are rooted in the past.

Southall Punjabis

Balraj Pumeral is leading a Heritage Lottery Fund project in Southall. West London which is recording the experience of who came to the borough in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Panjabis of Southall is producing a film, exhibitions and will be organising a heritage week. One of the dominant themes of the project is the racist treatment that Asians received at the time. The murders of Gurdip Singh Chaggar  in 1976 and Blair Peach in 1979 created a resolve among younger Asians not to retreat in the face of racist attacks by the likes of the National Front. As Lovejit Dhaliwal found out for Making History the founding of the Southall Youth Movement  was instrumental in helping other Black and Asian groups organise around the UK.


Tom Holland spoke with Dr Anandi Ramamurthy at Sheffield Hallam University the author of Black Star: Britain's Asian Youth Movements  

The End of Steam

Fifty years ago, on the 11th August 1968, British Rail ran their last ever public steam service. As Christian Wolmar the author of Fire and Steam reminded us, steam engines were dirty and expensive to run and they also required more people to operate them. But, the steam engine had also shaped towns and cities throughout the UK as Helen Castor discovered when she met up with Daniel Rose at Swindon's Railway Village.

A King Under A Tennis Court?

Edmund was a ninth century king of East Anglia. Martyred in a battle with the Vikings he became England’s first patron saint and it is widely thought that his body was taken to what we now know as Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. The town became a major centre of pilgrimage, especially after its huge abbey was established in the tenth century. But, it’s not known how long Edmund’s relics were kept there and whether they were removed at what we know now as the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the sixteenth century.


Now, the historian Dr Francis Young has put forward the idea in his new book Edmund: In Search of England's Lost King that his bones never left Bury St Edmunds but were spirited away and re-buried in an area of the abbey that is now the site of a tennis court.



Producer: Nick Patrick


A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4