Banners for Spain: Fighting the Spanish Civil War in London Exhibitions

Banners for Islington!

The Hammersmith Banners currently on display in the museum reflect Britain’s response to the Spanish Civil War and the campaigns held here to recruit new members of the International Brigade, collect food, money and arms for Spain, and remember those who had died.

For our exhibition, our volunteer Susan, did a lot of research into the Islington story of the Spanish Civil War. We decided, working with banner-maker Ed Hall, to make a banner reflecting these stories. Ed Hall has made banners for trade unions and protest groups since the 1980s. See here for an exhibition of his work at the People’s History Museum in Manchester a few years ago.   

On the day of the workshop we first explored different banners from around the country, including many by Ed himself. We then looked at the Hammersmith banners and investigated Islington stories and decided who we would like to feature and how we would do it.

Learning about the Spanish Civil War in Islington; Bosco Jones from Finsbury who fought in the Spanish Civil War

Then we began to design our banner… planning and then drawing different elements under Ed’s guidance. During all our work we had really interesting discussions about the Spanish Civil War and what’s happened since.

Drawing pictures ready for our banner

We then stuck all our pictures together and rolled them up for Ed to take away. He will be making our banner to go on display in the museum very soon!

Our final banner and the team

Banners for Spain: Fighting the Spanish Civil War in London Exhibitions Uncategorized

Banners for Spain: fighting the Spanish Civil War in London

The Spanish Civil War (1936-39) was sparked by a military coup led by General Franco against Spain’s elected government. Britain decided on ‘non-intervention’ in the war, but people from across the world joined the International Brigades to fight the fascist-backed rebels.In Britain, an ‘Aid Spain’ movement sprang up to raise funds for food and medical supplies and to help refugees fleeing the war.

Islington Museum’s new exhibition tells the story of the Borough’s involvement in the Spanish Civil War, showcasing six newly conserved banners for Aid Spain, artefacts from the Marx Memorial Library’s archives and stories of the Islington International Brigaders.

The exhibition runs from May 5th to July 8th 2017 at Islington Museum, and is complemented by a programme of free events.


Banners for Spain: Fighting the Spanish Civil War in London Collections

Islington’s Burning

London has had a turbulent and fiery history! It has been burned to the ground many times over in its 2000 year history and yet the London Fire Brigade (LFB) was only formed in 1866.


From the destruction of St. John’s Priory, Clerkenwell in 1381, the impact of the Great Fire of London, to the tragic blaze at Smithfield Market in the 1950s, ‘Islington Burning’ uncovers the story of fire fighting in the borough and commemorates 150 years since the founding of the LFB. The story is told through key objects from the London Fire Brigade Museum Collection, original material from Islington’s museum, archives and other collections from across the capital.

Here are 5 of the amazing objects on display in the exhibition:

  • The original Vestry Minute Book from St Mary’s Islington from the time of the Great Fire of London


Islington escaped the Great Fire as the wind changed direction. However many of the 100,000 people made homeless travelled north and camped out in Moorfields and Bun Hill Fields. This vestry minute book of the time records money donated to those made destitute following the fire.

  • An insurance plate from 18 Highbury Terrace in Islington


Many people were bankrupted by the Great Fire. Fire insurance started to fill a gap in the market and included fire insurance brigades who would put out fires in insured buildings to reduce costs. This plaque showed that X was insured so that the brigade would know a fire should be extinguished

  • An original smoke helmet from 1900 to allow firefighters to enter smoky buildings


This was the first real attempt to ensure firefighters could breathe when in smoke-filled buildings. It would be connected via a rubber hose to a set of bellows that would be pumped by another firefighter to drive air into the helmet. A rope between the two firefighters was used to signal for more or less air, or if there was a problem. Firefighters could only go as far as the hose would allow and had to place their lives in the hands of the bellows-pumper.

  • A German incendiary bomb from World War II


Incendiary bombs were designed to set buildings on fire. Over 500 were dropped on Islington during the war. The Fire Guards’ job was to put these bombs out as quickly as possible to prevent fires spreading and raging out of control.

  • A 2016 print out from Islington Fire Station for their next job


Today there are two fire stations in Islington –Islington Fire Station on Upper Street and Holloway Fire Station on Hornsey Road. This print out giving orders for the mobilisation of Islington Fire Rescue Unit.

Come to see the exhibition to find out more!