John Archer honoured by High Commission of Barbados

Published: 7 April 2017

London’s first black Mayor, John Archer, was commemorated this week at Wandsworth Town Hall during an event attended by the High Commissioner for Barbados.

On Wednesday (5 April) His Excellency Mr Guy Hewitt, High Commissioner for Barbados to the United Kingdom, presented the Mayor of Wandsworth, Cllr Richard Field, with an award to be accepted on behalf of John Archer, who was elected Mayor of Battersea in 1913. 

John Archer was a councillor for Latchmere ward, and was elected by his fellow councillors to be the Mayor of an area now part of the London Borough of Wandsworth. The capital’s first black municipal leader was the son of a Barbadian father and Irish mother, with no direct descendants alive today.

The award is one of 50 being given to recognise the significant contribution of Barbadians to the UK, to remind the community, and future generations, of the need to serve others with pride and industry.

Cllr Field said: “In John Archer’s time local government was seeing great change and opportunity and Archer set about improving the lives of many in the community, the poor and disabled, and was a passionate campaigner for what he believed was right. He fought hard against social and racial injustice.”

Mr Hewitt said that the award to Wandsworth was to recognise John Archer’s contribution, adding that for a part of his own life he also had lived in Battersea.

John Archer lived in Brynmaer Road, Battersea, in a property now marked by a blue English Heritage plaque, and had a photographic studio nearby. He went on to become an election agent for the Battersea North constituency MP Shapurji Saklatvala, one of the first Indians to be elected to Parliament in the UK. In 1931 John Archer was elected to Nine Elms ward, the year before his death in 1932. Royal Mail chose him as a subject of a Great Britons commemorative postage stamp issue, in 2013.

The event was also attended by Sean Creighton, John Archer’s biographer; Cllr Tony Belton, who represents Latchmere ward; and the Battersea Society; and took place during a citizenship ceremony held in the Council Chamber and officiated by members of the citizenship team Sarah Taylor and Sandra Macniven, both of Barbadian heritage.

For more information on nationality and citizenship, please visit the council’s webpage here.