Walks ‘n’ Talks: London’s Vietnam War history

Sunday 30 September, 09:4511:00, Grosvenor SquareUK satellites


On the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War protests in Grosvenor Square, join the Future Cities Project for this special Battle of Ideas satellite event, a one-hour political history walk, with James Heartfield, journalist, lecturer and author.

Donald Trump condemned the recent relocation of the American Embassy to south London eulogising the embassy’s original location in Grosvenor Square with typical Trump hyperbole: “we had the best site in all of London. The best site”. Indeed, the embassy was at the heart of the London Estate owned by the Grosvenor family since the 17th century, including Mayfair and Belgravia. The embassy has been demolished but the statues of Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Reagan remain.

The original London US Embassy – Eero Saarinen’s modernist masterpiece – opened in 1960 just in time for John F Kennedy’s presidency the following year and was the scene of violent protests against the Vietnam War towards the end of that same decade. Although we shall mention the story of the Grosvenor Estate, we are primarily going to be retracing the footsteps of the UK anti-Vietnam protests exactly 50 years ago.

The initial demonstrations occurred on 17 March 1968, but a much bigger rally took place on 27 October with 250,000 marchers. In the ensuing violence many hundreds were injured. Labour MP Peter Jackson said that he was “outraged by the violent use of police horses, who charged into the crowd even after they had cleared the street in front of the embassy”. This walk will relive that battle, occasionally reflecting on the voices of protest political leaders Tariq Ali and Vanessa Redgrave; recounting the battle and the actuality of Vietnam War.

After this initial account of the War, we shall retreat to the site of 1960s Peace – Carnaby Street – the beating heart of Swinging London. One year before the Grosvenor Street battle, London was experiencing the Summer of Love, while US Air Force B-52s were dropping 800 tons of bombs a day on North Vietnam.

Walks and Talks are £8 (£5 concession). Places are limited so please reserve by emailing Elisabetta Gasparoni futurecitiesproject@googlemail.com For further details, visit Future Cities Project