John Grieve: Alternative Newham 1972-89    
 Alternative Newham 1972-893 comments
21 Aug 2013 @ 12:16, by John Grieve


I first encountered the alternative side of Newham in east London when I returned there after finishing at college in the summer of 1972. I joined an evening class in order to make more contacts as I was working for an insurance company. This was held at a local secondary school as was in improvisation and assorted drama skills. It was run by a drama teacher and his wife, in their early 30s, called Matt Matthews and Jennifer Gould. They were young, vibrant and alternative. At that time they were in the process of moving from Reading, where they were working, and were commuting to Newham. I enjoyed the lessons and got on well with the other young people, and they valued the fact that I had just graduated with a degree in Politics.
Matt became something of a father figure to me over the the next few years, he was a charismatic man who attracted people to him, larger-than-life.Jenny,equally talented and better educated, was a natural foil to him. They had an alternative life-style and lived in a commune/community in East Ham in a sort of open house where they had frequent parties. After a few years they expanded their activities and started East Community Action which helped local people with bureaucratic, housing and money issues.

Soapbox theatre was a professional theatre group which went into schools and gave performances to students. They employed writers to produce plays and work was also put on at a venue called "Stage One" which was the Council's flagship for Arts events. Over a period of some years I attended many of these performances and found it vibrant and exciting.

At this time I was working for the London Co-op in their Manor Park dairy. I was also a Marxist and somewhat to the left of my friends in the alternative movement.
Newham Community Housing was formed in the mid 70s to use short life housing owned by Newham Council which were otherwise empty. It housed hundreds of people over the years and many of them became part of the alternative movement.


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26 Sep 2013 @ 18:28 by Jenny Matthews @86.167.140.245 : Matt's passing
Matt died 17th Sept 2013 if anyone knew him and would like come to his send off please contact the above email  


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21 Sep 2016 @ 16:57 by Mike Dixon @194.61.162.162 : Matt Mtthews
John,

I also knew Matt and Jenny Matthews-Gould, I sort of lost contact and then by chance found out from Jeff Innocent in 2015 that Matt had died over three years ago.  



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