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The Bishopsgate Blog provides an added insight into all of our activities, Library, Courses, Events and Schools and Community Learning. Our regular blogs will feature speakers from our Cultural Events, photographs, documents, letters, posters and ephemera from the Library, up-to-date news and information on courses and first-hand accounts of our Schools and Community workshops.

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Courses Our regular blogs will provide up-to-date news and information on our courses
Events Featuring content from speakers our blogs give added insight into our events
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Library A new way to engage with the library collections and services.
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Schools and Community First hand accounts of our archive learning workshops

Schools and Community

Our inspired Schools and Community Learning programme delivers a range of workshops and projects using the unique and fascinating collections found within our world-renowned Bishopsgate Library. Our workshops are suitable for learners of all ages and are used by wide variety of audiences from primary school pupils to pensioners.

Our regular blogs will demonstrate how our Schools and Community Learning programme encourages discovery and enquiry amongst our wide-ranging participants.


Culture and arts, heritage and history, ideas and independent thought all come together in our exciting events programmes. You can enjoy talks, walks, discussions and debates, or one of the many concerts that take place throughout the year.

Our regular blogs will give an added insight and perspective into our dynamic programme with content from speakers at our events.


Situated in a Grade II* listed building, Bishopsgate Library’s beautiful reading room is a peaceful place to study that is open to all; a calm oasis amid the bustle of Spitalfields and the City. In our dedicated Researchers’ Area, you can consult our renowned printed and archival collections on London, labour, freethought and Humanism, co-operation, or protesting and campaigning.

Our regular blogs will provide a new way for you to engage with the library collections and services, new acquisitions, activities and future developments.


Our comprehensive range of short courses offer you the opportunity to discover, discuss and be inspired in a welcoming environment. Our courses are conveniently designed to take place throughout the day, including lunchtimes, after work and at weekends. We have five course strands, Arts and Culture, Words and Ideas, Languages, Performing Arts and Body & Exercise to choose from.

Our regular blogs will provide up-to-date news and information.

Bishopsgate Blog
Discover | Enquire | Debate

Ken Keable, editor of London Recruits: The Secret War Against Apartheid and speaker at the forthcoming event The ANC's London Recruits: The Secret War Against Apartheid (held in partnership with the Raphael Samuel History Centre) tells us a little about the African National Congress' recruits who bravely smuggled anti-apartheid literature into South Africa:

Mary Chamberlain and Joy Leman shared an office and were good friends when they worked together for ten years 1977-87, teaching at the London College of Printing. Yet it was only in 2012 that they each discovered that the other had been among the African National Congress' 'London Recruits', after Mary had told her story in the book London Recruits – the secret war against apartheid, published in that year. This deeply ingrained habit of secrecy helps to explain why the book took so long to be written.

After Nelson Mandela and other leaders of the ANC were jailed in 1964, almost all ANC members who were not in prison had to go into exile, to evade arrest and torture. They then had a problem: how could they continue the struggle against the apartheid regime and show the people that the ANC was not defeated? The ANC’s London leadership began recruiting young, white, non-South African men and women, unknown to the regime, who could enter South Africa without arousing suspicion. Most were British, but there were also three Irishmen, an American, a French woman, a Greek and a Greek-Australian.

It is now estimated that there were at least 60 London Recruits in all, though many have still not been traced. Some of us will be telling our remarkable stories at Bishopsgate Institute on Tuesday 4 June at 7.30pm.

One of the main activities of the Recruits was to plant 'leaflet bombs' as shown in the picture below. We also arranged street broadcasts, using amplified cassette players. Some unfurled banners, some posted thousands of letters and packages, some helped ANC fighters to enter South Africa, some did reconnaissance and some smuggled large quantities of weapons. Three – Alex and Marie-José Moumbaris and Sean Hosey - were arrested and tortured; Alex and Sean were jailed for long periods.

This is an inspiring story of youthful idealism, international solidarity and anti-racism of which Britain can be proud.

Ken Keable's book London Recruits – the secret war against apartheid. 

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