Archive of the Week: East London Big Flame


MDR Weekly Archive Log
21st April 2020

Archive of the Week:  East London Big Flame 

These past weeks we have been focusing on East London Big Flame. Coming together in East London in 1972 this group of left political activists at odds with the moralism of the prevailing left politics of the time embarked on a project of organising themselves non-hierarchically. With an ethos of ‘working with’ rather than being party affiliated and concerned with recruitment, the members of East London Big Flame (ELBF), under the burgeoning influence of the Women’s Liberation Movement and the ‘politics of everyday life’, initiated a series of projects in the Bow area of London. These initiatives included setting up a food co-op and a claimants union, contributing to the East End squatting scene, working and organising within the Ford plant at Dagenham and the Lesney factory in Homerton and establishing the ‘leaderless’ Red Therapy Group.

Our collection can be found here

This material along with an extended commentary
can also be found on the great ELBF website put together by former members:


PEOPLE'S FOOD CO-OP Lincoln Estate, Bow



Details and pdf here 

Food Coop = finding ways of sharing and building solidarity through collectivising aspects of daily life.

Reflections from about the co-op from ELBF members.
Full text on from

The co-op began in March 1974. ELBF did the co-op every fortnight: a Wednesday meeting at different people’s flats in turn, to put in the orders and the money; Thursday/Friday to buy the food and store it in someone’s home; Friday evening a small group did the packing; Saturday morning everyone picked up their orders. They regularly bought general groceries, meat, cheese, tins, eggs, potatoes and apples.

The women used the meetings as a chance to talk about anything from abortion, children and demos to jobs, lifts and housework. Also, the involvement in doing this project together made us all feel stronger and less isolated as women, and changed relationships in our homes. The whole experience is described in the words of all the women involved in the 16-page pamphlet People’s Food Co-op, Lincoln Estate, Bow. They sold this locally and within the women’s movement to spread the word.


Red Therapy