Riots and Social unrest in Thatcher’s Britain | Andrew Moore

British Culture Archive

Self-taught photographer Andrew Moore grew up on Tyneside in the North East of England. In the early 1980s he moved to London to go to university and it was here where he first picked up a camera.

Housing Rights

The first real photographs Andrew took were in 1983 to support a housing rights organisation, campaigning for better living conditions for the Whitechapel Bangladeshi community who were living in awful conditions. This is one of the first photographs that I made, It was 1983 and I was still finding my feet in London after moving from Tyneside.

Photo of a Sleeping child of the Bangladeshi community in Fieldgate Mansions.
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. He documented the aftermath of the first night of the Handsworth Riots of 1985.

“I’d 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 night began to fall.’

Aftermath of The Handsworth Riots. Birmingham, 1985.
Aftermath of the Handsworth Riots, 1985. Photo © Andrew Moore.

Later that night, people desperately try to get refuge from a police snatch squad in a billiard hall. This was my first experience of trying to make pictures in a place where nobody wanted photographers around. 

Handsworth Riots, Birmingham, 1985.
Police snatch squad. Handsworth, 1985. Photo © Andrew Moore

At the time Andrew said there wasn’t a mainstream appetite within the UK for the kind of images he was making, he 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 with extended periods back on Tyneside during the last decade to care for my elderly parents”.


Handsworth Riots. Residents survey the damage following a second night of rioting. Birmingham, 1985.
Residents survey the damage after the Handsworth Riots, 1985. 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, 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
Broadwater Farm, London, 1985.
The morning after the riot. Broadwater Farm Estate, 1985. Photo © Andrew Moore
A homeless man and his daughter in the notorious Mount Pleasant Hotel. London, 1986.
A homeless man and his daughter in the infamous Mount Pleasant Hotel. London, 1986.  Photo © Andrew Moore
Poll Tax Riots. Trafalgar Square, 1990.
Police come under a hail of missiles at the beginning of the Poll Tax Riot. Trafalgar Square, 1990. Photo © Andrew Moore
Poll Tax riot, London, 1990.
Protesters attack police. Poll Tax Riot, Trafalgar Square, 1990. Photo © Andrew Moore
Photo of the Poll Tax riots. London, 1990
Police charge. Poll Tax Riot, Trafalgar Square, 1990. Photo © Andrew Moore.
Poll Tax riot. Trafalgar Square, London, 1990.
Police attack protesters. Poll Tax Riot, Trafalagar Square, 1990. Photo © Andrew Moore
Photo of the Poll Tax riots in London, 1990.
A protester lies unconscious as police run through Trafalgar Square. Poll Tax Riot, 1990. Photo © Andrew Moore.
Police make an arrest following a protest against racism in Newham. London, 1985.
Police make an arrest during a protest against racism. Newham, 1985. Photo © Andrew Moore

You can see more of Andrew’s work on his Instagram page

All images © Andrew Moore, all rights reserved.

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