Admiral Duncan, the pub on Old Compton Street, has a long history, having been up and running since 1832. However, on 30th April 1999, that history took a dark turn when a nail bomb exploded inside, killing three people and hurting an additional 79. Of the living, some came away blinded or with missing limbs. It turned out to be part of a campaign (there were additional explosions in other London areas) by a young Neo-Nazi, David Copeland, who was attempting to kill racial minorities as well as LGBT people. The tragedy occurred at a time when things were finally changing for minorities, after a period of stasis under the rule of the previous government. Under Tony Blair, Britain saw the equalisation of the age of consent, the end of Section 28 and the introduction of civil partnerships. If anything, the bombing spurred on the process of equalisation rather than hindering it, so in the long term, Copeland’s immoral, homicidal plans backfired. Today, more people are willing to risk holding hands in public. Gay massage London is considered a perfectly normal pastime. And although there are always forces at work, plotting to take us back in time and remove our liberties, they are, as yet, unsuccessful. At the time, investigators discovered Copeland’s bedroom plastered with Nazi memorabilia. He had also pasted newspaper clippings of the three nail bomb attacks onto his walls, glorying in his own criminal activities.The
The twentieth anniversary of the terrible events of April 1999 were recently marked. The far-right lunatic who pulled off these atrocities is languishing in prison, serving six life sentences. For some survivors, tragedy continued to haunt their lives. David Morely, who worked as a bartender at the Admiral Duncan and lived through the bombing, was subsequently murdered by teenagers in a gay-bashing incident on the South Bank in 2004. At the anniversary commemoration this year, he was singled out by name and remembered. We now live in a country with tougher hate crime legislation and this is, in part, down to the efforts of OutRage activists, who responded to the tragic events of 1999 by campaigning for stronger crack-downs on anti-LGBT violence. Copeland had also targeted Asian and black communities with bombs and, coupled with the MacPherson Report (which looked into racism in the police force), this has led to racist violence being dealt with more resolutely than prior to 1999.
The Soho Act of Remembrance took place on Tuesday 30th April 2019 at 5pm, outside the Admiral Duncan. It occurs every year, to mark the anniversaries of all three nail bomb attacks (the other two took place in Brixton and Brick Lane). Pride in London and 17-24-30 NationalHCAW (an anti-hate charity) participated in the event, after which a further remembrance at St. Anne’s Gardens took place. Three candles were lit in honour of the fatalities – John Light (32), Nik Moore (31) and Andrea Dykes (27). Despite the loss of some historical LGBT venues (e.g. The Coleherne, The Black Cap), the Admiral Duncan continues to thrive. Perhaps if you were unable to attend this year, you can take a detour to Old Compton Street the next time you have gay massage in London, and undertake a private remembrance of your own.