Activity: Talk or presentation types › Invited talk
On 4th September 1914 the Cannon Street shop of German-born locksmith Peter Krauss was attacked amidst anti-German sentiments, drunkenness and misguided patriotism as nearby, hundreds of troops headed off to war from nearby Middlesbrough Station. Almost five decades later the same street was plunged under the national and international media spotlight as ‘white riots’ broke out in the Cannon Street area of the town. In August 1961 a mob of white youths, fresh from the local public house, set about attacking Asian families living in this slum area of Middlesbrough following days of unrest and accusations of murder against sailor Hassan Said following the death of 18-year old John Joseph Hunt.
This paper looks to these two occasions of racial disturbances and targeted attacks in Cannon Street, dubbed in the press as Middlesbrough’s ‘little Harlem’, and will consider the impact of such attacks on notions of urban belonging and social integration in a town defined by immigration since its emergence as a Victorian ‘boom town’. By turning attention to the events of 1914 and 1961, it will be contended that although both were short-term disturbances amidst relatively harmonious relations between migrant, naturalised and British citizens, the legacies of the First World War violence and later ‘Cannon Street Riots’ have played a key role in shaping historical and wider narratives of the now-demolished Cannon Street area of Middlesbrough.