Berber Road, SW11

Place Name

Named after General Charles George Gordon’s mission in Sudan to evacuate Egyptians in 1883. Sudan was under Egyptian rule at the time and Egypt was a British protectorate. Gordon stopped at Berber to address an assembly of tribal chiefs before heading to Khartoum. It was from Khartoum that he decided to disobey his orders, to remove the garrison and civilians, and instead tried to defend the city from the on coming Mahdist forces, who were trying to get rid of their harsh Egyptian rulers. Gordon’s aggressive policies won favour among the British public but were not supported by William Gladstone’s government and he found himself holding out against far stronger forces, while a belatedly sent relief force was sent to support him. Berber, 370km to the north of Khartoum, had, been taken over by the Mahdists who later retreated under fire by a gunboat. Gordon, who “still had cigarettes, which are as inseparable companions to General Gordon, as the Bible, Thomas á Kempis, and Stamford’s maps of some of the darkest places on earth” used the time to garrison Khartoum with defences and supplies. But to no avail. He was killed when Khartoum was overrun by the Sudanise on January 26, 1885. His death brought a great outpouring of grief in England and jingoistic developers named streets in his honour.

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