Remembering gay history in west London

Image above: Roebuck pub, Chiswick High Rd

Who remembers the Birdcage?

The Birdcage pub was a well-known gay pub in Chiswick, before it was rebranded as a family gastro pub and became The Roebuck.

The barman at the Birdcage was David Morley, who lived upstairs. He had been barman at the Admiral Duncan in Soho when it was attacked with a nail bomb, which killed three people and wounded around 70 more in 1999.

Five years later he was beaten up on his way home after a night out in a vicious and unprovoked attack near Waterloo station, and died of his injuries. Four youths from Kennington went to prison for manslaughter. It is important to remember people like David, known as ‘Cinders’ and widely regarded as a lovely man who would help anyone.

Image above: Aubrey and Joe from West London Queer Project

West London Queer History project

West London Queer Project wants to remember the gay history of west London and capture it before it is forgotten.

“We turn to local archives which can hold old newspaper articles, leaflets, advertising, photographs, letters and more to help us celebrate, remember, and understand progress made over the years. But LGBTQ+ history is currently not well represented in archives, which tend to focus mainly on the AIDS epidemic or the legalities of being gay, or there no material at all,” says Aubrey Crawley, founder of the West London Queer Project.

He would like to celebrate LGBTQ+ History month with an exhibition showcasing west London’s “diverse and colourful queer history.

Having scoured the archives he has found: “there is very little documentation or history on lesbian women, non-binary, black, ethnic, or trans members of our community.

“We want to celebrate the joy, love and community that has existed so that our full history is not forgotten.”

The West London Queer Project need your memories and memorabilia

“I’m calling for a West London shout-out to anyone willing to share their memories of life in West London, documents, pictures, or anything that could be donated to the local LGBTQ+ archive collections” says Aubrey.

There are four events taking place throughout February to mark LGBTQ+ History Month and members of the public are welcome to join in.

  • Thursday 8 February, 6 – 10.30pm at The Chelsea Theatre – Let’s Make History film screening, Q&A and Queer Tango performance
  • Saturday 17 February, 6 – 10.30pm at The Ealing Project – Pride film screening, Q&A and After Party
  • Monday 19 February, 1 – 4pm at Hounslow Council – Annual LGBTQ History Month event with guest speakers and community groups
  • Thursday 29 February, 7 – 10.20pm at The Fulham Library – LGBTQ+ History Month Quiz Tutorial hosted by drag act Beary Poppins

Submissions for the archives can emailed to info@wlqp.org, taken to one of those four events in February for photocopying or scanning, or you can take them to Hammersmith Library (W6 7AT) on Monday & Tuesday between 3-5pm.

The West London Queer Project (WLQP) has partnered with the London Boroughs of Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Hounslow, and Kensington & Chelsea to promote awareness of LGBTQ+ history and the importance of capturing memories and telling stories.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar