Protests and Riots in Thatcher’s Britain | Photographs by Andrew Moore

Self-taught photographer Andrew Moore grew up on Tyneside, in the North East of England. In the early 1980s, he moved to London for university, and it was there where he first picked up a camera and discovered his passion for photography.

Housing Rights

Andrew “The first real series of photographs that I took were in 1983 to support a housing rights organisation campaigning for better living conditions for the Whitechapel Bangladeshi community, who were living in appalling conditions. The photo below of a Bangledshi child sleeping is from that body of work. It was 1983, and I was still finding my feet in London after moving from Tyneside.

Photograph of a Sleeping Bangladeshi child in Fieldgate Mansions. Whitechapel, 1980s.
A Bangladeshi child sleeps in Fieldgate Mansions, Whitechapel.

Photo © Andrew Moore.


From that point onwards, Andrew began to document the unrest triggered by the social and economic changes that came with Thatcherism.

Andrew recalls the aftermath of the first night of the Handsworth Riots of 1985. “I had just arrived on the train from London, didn’t know my way around Birmingham, and was spooked by the obvious nervousness of the police as the night began to fall.”

Aftermath of The Handsworth Riots. Birmingham, 1985.
Aftermath of the Handsworth Riots, 1985.

Photo © Andrew Moore.

“Later that night, people were desperately trying to find refuge from a police snatch squad in a billiard hall. This was my first experience of trying to capture pictures in a place where nobody wanted photographers around.” – Andrew Moore.

Handsworth Riots, Birmingham, 1985.
Police snatch squad. Handsworth, 1985.

Photo © Andrew Moore.

Newham 7

Andrew documented the protest march that took place in Forest Gate, Newham on 27th April 1985. The march was in defence of Gerard Pryce and the Newham 7. It was due to pass Forest Gate Police Station, en route to Plashet Park – upon reaching the police station, police snatch squads charged the crowd, pulling out black, asian and mixed race youths and violently assaulting them. Ten of the youths were taken into custody. Around 3,000 people refused to move from outside the station until all 10 were released.

Police making an arrest during the Newham 7 Protest, 1985.
Police make an arrest during the Newham 7 Protest, 1985.

Photo © Andrew Moore.

Reportage Photography

“At the time, there wasn’t a mainstream appetite within the UK for the kind of images I was making. However, I got a much warmer response internationally and began to work with news magazines in Europe and the US.

“If I’m known for anything, it’s my work in Northern Ireland, although, again, the recognition for that came outside of the UK. For a long time, I’ve lived and worked abroad, but I’ve also spent extended periods back on Tyneside during the last decade to care for my parents.”


Handsworth Riots. Residents survey the damage following a second night of rioting. Birmingham, 1985.
Handsworth Riots, 1985. Residents survey the damage following a second night of rioting.

Photo © Andrew Moore.

Handsworth Riots, 1985.
"A couple of weeks after the Handsworth riot, there was serious unrest in Brixton following the shooting of Cherry Groce during a police raid. Immediately after making this image of an arrest, my night was cut short after the police turned their attentions to me. The staff of Guy’s Hospital patched me up".

Photo: © Andrew Moore.
Tottenham, 1985.
A week after the shooting of Cherry Groce, Cynthia Jarrett died during a police raid in Tottenham. In this image, police are swamping the local area as tension grows. London, 1985. 

Photo: © Andrew Moore.
Broadwater Farm Riots, 1985.
Police make an arrest that night on the Broadwater Farm Estate. By this point, there had been a second death with the killing of PC Keith Blakelock during rioting on the estate.

Photo: © Andrew Moore.
Poll Tax Riots, Trafalgar Square, 1990.
Poll Tax Riot, Trafalgar Square, 31st March, 1990.

Photo © Andrew Moore.

The Poll Tax protests culminated in a major riot centred around Trafalgar Square on 31st March, 1990, which left 113 injured and led to 340 arrests by the Met Police. 

Poll Tax riots, London, 31st March, 1990.
Police charge. Poll Tax Riot, Trafalgar Square, 31st March, 1990.

Photo © Andrew Moore.

Poll Tax riot. Trafalgar Square, London, 1990.
Police attack protesters. Poll Tax Riot, Trafalgar Square, 31st March, 1990.

Photo © Andrew Moore.

“As the afternoon went on, control of Trafalgar Square ebbed and flowed between the police and protestors”. – Andrew Moore.

Documentary photography of the Poll Tax Riot, Trafalgar Square, 1990.
A protester lies unconscious as police run through Trafalgar Square. Poll Tax Riot, 1990.

Photo © Andrew Moore.

All images © Andrew Moore, all rights reserved.





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