Friday 5 September 2008

Legacy in the dust - the film about Dalston's Four Aces Club

At 7.30pm on Friday 19 September at Cafe Oto, Ashwin Street, E8 you have the chance to watch "Legacy In The Dust" (click on Trailer). Dalston legend Newton Dunbar, who ran the Fours Aces club for 33 years, and Dalston's brilliant young film maker Winstan Whitter will be there too for a Q&A session. And there'll be a mega music session to follow starting at 10.30pm featuring Winston Reedy, Delroy Pinnock and Freetown plus surprise guests.The details are here and more here.

The Four Aces Club had a controversial history. In one period of frequent raids the Metropolitan Police, with the Daily Mail in tow, sought to vilify the Club (the headlines screamed about drug dens, Yardies etc). But, whilst the authorities sought to expel black music from Dalston, dozens of police officers were transferred away from Stoke Newington Police Station amid allegations that some were dealing crack cocaine on Dalston's "front line" - Sandringham Road, E8. Police officers were convicted in the criminal courts but Newton Dunbar's reputation was, and remains, unblemished.

Newton triumphed in the face of adversity and harassment until the Council's compulsory purchase orders finally claimed Dalston's historic buildings for redevelopment purposes in 1999. They remained derelict and on death row until finally demolished in 2007.

The first act of demolition occurred suddenly when Hackney cut down the trees which Newton and Charles Collins had planted in the Club's garden to commemorate the young people who had perished in the New Cross fire - widely believed to have been a racist arson attack.

The demolitions proceeded without any opportunity for the community to celebrate the 120 years of service to popular culture and performing arts which the historic buildings had performed. The buildings had reinvented themselves over the years to meet the public's changing demands - from the times of Sir Robert Fossett's circus in 1886, through the period as a Victorian variety theatre with Hackney's own international star of the music hall Marie Lloyd, then its makeover and re-opening by Hackney's Mayor Herbert Morrison in 1920 as "the greatest cinema in the Britsh Empire", then in the 1960s & '70s as a home for international stars of black music and finally giving birth to the drum 'n bass & acid-house as part of the rave scene of the 1990s.

click image to enlarge

Newton worked with OPEN to challenge Hackney Council's moves to demolish Dalston's character and history and replace it with towerblocks. He filed an affidavit in OPEN's High Court proceedings describing the history of the Club, the eviction of the community from the buildings and, with historic photographs, how part of the roofs of the Theatre building were removed contributing to the destruction by rainwater of Dalston's jewel in the crown - the magnificent 1920's interiors of what had become known as the Labyrinth.

Winstan Whitter's documentary film details the history of the buildings and the Four Aces Club, its people, its music and Newton's 33 years as its Director. Not to be missed.


How did it happen? A ten year plan to destroy 185 years of culture."The story that was never told"


  1. Hey, great piece. Keep up the good work, I'm watching from across the pond. Wish I was there to see the film....BVI Steve

  2. thanks a lot for this, just bought tickets!


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