Sharley McLean

Sharley McLean was born into a political family persecuted by the Third Reich and escaped to Britain in 1939, on a “Kindertransport”, which rescued children from Nazi Germany. After the German family she lived with were interned, Sharley was supported by Catholic organisations and then trained as nurse. She was a Speakers’ Corner regular from 1939 and during the war met other refugees from Germany by Donald Soper’s platform. She made many friends including Robert Ogilvie “the free thinker” and met her socialist husband there, with whom she had two children. She says Speakers’ Corner saved her from the boredom of post-war working class Britain and helped her express her individuality. Sharley only started speaking at Speakers’ Corner in the 1980s, on the “Hyde Parks Gays and Sapphics” platform, which she co-founded. They tried to demystify homosexuality, educate people about HIV and support gay people who had little understanding from those around them.

Audio of Sharley

“Encouragement to carry on”

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“Released something crushing”

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

See the exhibition

Radio show

Our radio show can be listened to here.

Listen to the radio show

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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