Historical references to London's sounds

A database of several hundred historical descriptions and references to London's sounds. They're drawn mainly from primary sources such as autobiographies, diaries and statutes, as well as novels written around the times they depict.

11th to
16th to
18th Early
 Demonstrations     2 1 1   1  
 Elections and election campaigns     1          
 Meetings and indoor gatherings       1   2    
 Public political oratory   2       1 1  
 Strikes and trade union activities     1       1  
 Political, sectarian and ethnic conflict   1   1     1  

Period referred to: 1930s

Sound category: Political > Rallies and demonstrations

Title of work: The Water Gypsies

Type of publication: Novel

Author: A. P. Herbert

Year of publication: 1930

Page/volume number: Chapter X

A. P. Herbert’s satirical description of a Hyde Park political rally

The entertainment which Ernest had in store for her the following afternoon turned out to be a Monster Demonstration and Mass Rally in Hyde Park in support of the 'Hands Off Croatia' Movement. [. . .]

So Jane found herself marching along the Victoria Embankment in column of fours. Ernest was on one side of her, and on the other an envenomed old lady with wrinkled face, who as she marched muttered maledictions on the Conservative Government. Not far in front of them was a banner, and not far behind them was a brass band. [. . .]

Comrade Watkins was a small, dark, chubby man with burning eyes and a high voice. He had the practised orator's trick of breaking up his opening sentences into small sections, with great pauses between them, which made the audience feel that the section next to come would be of profound significance. This trick he had learned from the Earl of Derby at a meeting of the Liverpool Conservative Women's Association many years before, when Comrade Watkins was a stage-hand. He began:

'As you 'ave 'eard –
I 'ave enjoyed –
The 'ospitality –
Of 'Is Majesty's Government. (Great laughter.)
I 'arbour no ill-will –
Against 'Is Majesty's Government –
They did me proud – (Laughter.)
They 'ave my gratitude – (Laughter.)
They 'ave my prayers – (Great laughter.)
For what are my sufferin's, comrades – ? [. . .]

Comrade Watkins had now warmed his audience, he had stamped his personality upon their tender minds, and he gathered speed.

'Comrades,' he said, 'I am not going to come any 'umbug over you, I am not going to use the language of chicanery and hyperbowl at this great meeting this afternoon, but I say without fear of contradiction that the behaviour of the Government in the West 'Am controversy 'as been a scandal and a dudgeon to the public life of the country.'

Here he stopped suddenly and looked about, as if expecting support, and many of the loyal comrades again made encouraging sounds; but Jane began to weary of Comrade Watkins.