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Rare footage of 1972 Toxteth race riots to be shown

FLASHBACK: Some of the young black residents who were interviewed for the This Week programme in 1972

A RARE television film which examines the aftermath of a 1972 race riot in Toxteth, Liverpool, has been released online for the first time.

The 30 minute episode of Thames Television’s This Week programme presented by a young Jonathan Dimbleby visits the area’s Falkner Place a few days after racially-motivated violence hit the estate.

During the programme, black residents tell Dimbleby of their encounters with white skinheads, police discrimination and the impact on their lives of living in a socially deprived area.

The presenter also visits the Windsor Gardens Estate which he describes as having an atmosphere that is “nervous and tired".

The film has been made available to watch for free as part of the BFI's Britain on Film project.

Paul Peng, one of those who is featured being interviewed, said he was shocked to see himself on film more than 40 years after the programme was originally broadcast.

MEMORY

Remembering the events, he said: “On the first night of the disturbances gangs of white youths - mainly skinheads - ran riot through the Falkner Square estate smashing windows and beating up anyone they found out on the street who could have been a resident. On the second night, those of us in the picture and a number of others, erected barricades to the entrance of the estate to repel the expected attack from the skinheads, which did occur but this time they were unable to gain access to the estate.

"The barricades were removed the following morning, but were re-erected for the next three or four nights. The gangs of skinheads still congregated outside of the barricades, but the police then instructed those behind the barricades to remove them.

"The barricades were not removed and the response from the police was to charge the barricades, so effectively over a two or three day period it was the police who were the aggressors charging the barricades whilst the skinheads and anyone who was interested watched. Once the police gained entry through clambering over the barricades, those who manned them were given refuge in the houses of the residents of Falkner square.”

He continued: “There were some arrests, but not many and the barricades were eventually removed, with the police giving a commitment to maintain a presence for the residents to ensure that the skinheads would not be able to congregate outside of the estate or rampage through again." A spokesperson for the BFI said: “The events on the film can be seen as a prelude to the Toxteth riots which took place nearly a decade later."

The Britain on Film project, launched by the BFI, is available to access for free on BFI Player with the player’s ground-breaking Film and TV map of the UK allowing users to search films by specific UK locations and enabling people to share films with their family, friends and communities.

Highlights of the Merseyside films will be shown on the Liverpool Media Wall opposite Lime Street Station throughout August, thanks to a partnership with Ocean Outdoor.

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