Thu 1 August 2019 – Tue 1 November 2022

Brick Lane 1978: The Turning Point

© Paul Trevor 2021

Exploring the 1978 anti-racist uprising led by East London’s Bengali community.

4 MAY 1978

A young Bengali garment worker is found dead near Brick Lane; yet another racially-motivated attack endured by the Asian population of East London. This time however, things are different. The brutal murder of Altab Ali mobilises the community to take action. 

14 MAY 1978 

7,000 Bengalis march from Brick Lane to Hyde Park then Downing Street behind Ali’s coffin, in an unprecedented uprising against racist far-right groups. Their actions represent a turning point in resistance against racial discrimination. East London will change for good.  

Brick Lane 1978: The Turning Point is a major heritage project exploring this history.
With the help of volunteers and original activists, we are creating a vital record of this watershed moment as told by local people. 

The project will produce: 


Read our blog posts to find out how the project is progressing.

24.01.23 Exhibition on Tour - Brick Lane 1978: The Turning Point

18.08.22 Memories of Brick Lane: Short film series combining oral history with photographs

14.05.21 Brick Lane 1978 volunteer Luthfa Begum shares what the project means to her. 

06.05.21 More photographs from Paul Trevor: do you remember?

04.05.21 Window Exhibition: listen to activists share their memories of the protests. 

10.03.21 Discover more about the groundbreaking history inspiring our project. 

09.11.20 The project continues through lockdown. 

29.10.20 'The Story of Balwinder Singh Rana', Jan Fuscoe for the Byline Times. 

20.10.20  'The Story of Barbara Beese', Jan Fuscoe for the Byline Times. 

04.05.20 Remembering Altab Ali.

09.12.19 Discovering archives and oral histories. 

04.10.19 And we're off! 


We are seeking participants to be interviewed for the Brick Lane 1978 project.

Renowned photographer Paul Trevor captured the May 1978 protests. We are using his never-before-seen images to help identify and gather the memories of those involved at the time, and we need your help.  

  • Were you living in the Brick Lane area during the late 1970s? 

  • Do you remember the anti-racist protests galvanised by the murder of Altab Ali? 

  • Were you involved in the protests, either as an activist or witness? 

We want to hear from you. Get in touch


Spitalfields Life 

Open Democracy

Bangla Mirror News

British Bangla News

East End Advertiser

Byline Times


Brick Lane 1978: The Turning Point is a collaborative project run by Four Corners and Swadhinata Trust, in partnership with Paul Trevor.

This project has been made possible by the generous support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund. 

Download press release