Tom Tickell

Tom Tickell, journalist and diarist, first visited Speakers’ Corner at the age of sixteen, in 1958.  He spoke on absurd topics like umbrella worship and yak transport in a variety of accents, partly in order to mock speakers he saw as “pop-eyed fanatics.” Tom remembers eccentrics like Jacobus Van Dyn, who had a snake tattoo licking his upper lip. In those days Tom was a member of the Conservative Party, though he thought the Tory speakers were less effective than people who wanted to change the status quo.  He still attends, largely to heckle: “A form of anger management.” Tom speculates that heckling religious speakers might have been a way to attack his mother’s Catholicism by proxy without hurting her feelings. He believes that the habit of listening and debate has declined along with a rise in hard-line fanaticism. The most intelligent conversations are to be had outside the speakers’ meetings, with the exception of Marxist Heiko Khoo. He disagrees with everything Heiko says, but respects his mind. Tom says Speakers’ Corner gets in the blood, like “a kind of drug.”

Audio of Tom

“Anger management”

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Speakers' Corner, Hyde Park, London.

About the project

Sounds from the Park is a unique oral and visual history of Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park: the UK’s last great open air oratory site.

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© Chris Kennett

Exhibition

Our exhibition can be seen online here or read our booklet about Speakers' Corner.

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© Philip Wolmuth

Radio show

Our radio show can be listened to here.

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Young man talking at Speakers' Corner, 2013 © Sophie Polyviou

Education resources

History and Citizenship resources for Key Stage 3 and 4. Complete with a timeline of events at Speakers' Corner and other resources.

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