Welcome to the Hoxton Cafe Project, My name is Gordon Porter and I was one of the
who used the cafe 1963 - 1969
I recently had a bit of nostalgia for my younger years and decided to see if there
was any mention on the Internet regarding the Hoxton Café which used to be on the
corner of Pimlico Walk and Hoxton Street, dead opposite the Roses pub which is now
called the Macbeth. I was surprised when Google showed a report – first published
in 1972 - about the Hoxton Café and the people who ran it titled “Hoxton Café Project
report on seven years” written by Dr. H.M. Holden.
I wasn’t aware the report existed until then, although some of the content seemed
familiar. I found a copy for sale and immediately bought it. (I haven`t been able
to trace another copy anywhere since). When it arrived I opened it at the first photo
and to my surprise there was a picture of me and my old friends outside the café.
It was taken about 1964-65. I read the report…and what an interesting read it turned
out to be. We had all believed back then that the Café was funded by the Probation
Services and was run on a voluntary basis. But it turned out the funding actually
came from both the Inner London Education Authority and the Shoreditch Youth Services.
The Committee had given their time for free and the salaries for the workers, plus
expenses, were paid for by the taxpayer. What we didn’t realize was that they were
using us as a project to see if they could change the lives of the young people (“UNCLUBABLES”)
of Hoxton. When looking through the report it seemed strange reading the names of
people like Barrie & Barbara Biven, Steve and Laurel Brake, Margaret Jones, Joe the
Monk, Ian Kellett, Ian Guild, Nancy Amphoux and Glen Thompson (I still have the copy
of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass which Glen gave me, stamped “American Library Istanbul”)
and Derek Shuttleworth one of the nicest men I have met.
After I read through all this it made me want to try and find out what had happened
to all the people who had worked in the Hoxton Café and the kids who went in there.
I came up with this web site in the hope that people who had either worked in or
had used the café at this time would let me know what had happened to them since
those long ago days (yes it really is over 45 years ago). I will also include part
of this site to update the profiles of people as and when I can, if given permission.
If you can fill in any of the gaps regarding the workers such as what happened to
them after they left the café or what they are now doing. Or better still if you
are one of them, please do get in touch.
I decided to try and track down the author of the report on the Internet “Hyla Montgomery
Holden” and fortunately there was an H.M.Holden who was researching a project regarding
evacuees during the war. It gave his telephone number so I rang him and - to my delight
- it was the right person. After a chat about the café he said he was still in contact
with Barrie Biven,Barbara Biven (Ward) and Laurel Brake (Frank) and would pass my
details onto them. Within a day or so I got a call from Barrie Biven,and we had a
nice long chat after which we decided to meet up, which we did on the 1st of November
in a restaurant in Hoxton Square. My sister Bobby and her husband Jimmy Hines also
came to the restaurant and the four of us had a great time talking about the old
days and remembering many of the people we had known back then.
I recently Contacted
Ian Kellett and we met up at Liverpool Street Station sharing a few beers in a nearby
pub. It was great seeing each other and having so much to talk about. Sometime after
I had another meeting with Barrie Biven…only this time with his Wife Lucy, Ian Kellett,
and Bobby & Jimmy Hines at Browns Restaurant Islington Green.
I have since met up with Stephen Manning, Stevey Yates and have spoken on the phone
too Jimmy Lockhart, John Bloom, Steve Brake, Billy Bewley, Pete Mose and Glen Thompson's
first wife Margaret Gosley, Roy King (Wiggins) who lives in Manchester. Also I received
an email from Kathy Maloney.
Update December 2008
I have recently been in contact with Michael Nicholson-Florence who you may know
was the first manager of the Hoxton Cafe. We are planning to meet up early in the
New Year probably in London. It is also hoped that Michael will write a Bio for the
So if you can help at all, if you were one of the kids or one of the workers - or
if you have any photos of Hoxton at or around that time - we would love to hear from
you. Just drop us a line on the email address below.
Updated 22nd September 2012
I contacted Robin Griffin a while ago, who you may remember as a teacher at Shoreditch
School but was also on the committee of the Hoxton café project - he also took the
photos of my class mates in Hoxton Square. The last two contacts I had from him he
said he was going away for a couple of days and wouldcontact me on his return; and
then a couple of days later saying that he hadn’t forgotten me and was going to let
me know what he had been up to in all those years. But since then I have not heard
anything further despite emailing him several times. I hope he is ok and that nothing
has happened to him. As he told me “I am 84 now”. So if anyone knows Robin let me
know how he is.