Anti-Fur Protest in London circa 1979

My photograph shows the mink coat burning.
I took this photography of my friend, Fay Funnell, outside a major department store in London’s Oxford Street in 1978 or 1979. Fay, who is the second woman from the left and is dressed in black, camped outside the store for one week to make sure she was first in line to buy a mink coat that was on display in the window. In fact, when she arrived to start her stay there was already one woman ahead of her! Fay quickly determined that she was waiting in line to buy something else that was also greatly reduced in price. The mink coat was reduced in price by some extravagant amount because it was used as a tool by the store to advertise its sale, which was a very common practice then. Fay wanted to use this opportunity to protest against fur. She arranged for her animal rights friends, including me, to sleep overnight on Oxford Street with her. I was working for the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection at the time and their offices were nearby. Fay never divulged what she planned to do other than to those who were helping her.

By the morning of the sale there was quite a crowd waiting to get in the store. Fay and the first woman in the line were admitted first so that they could buy their merchandise and be photographed by the press at a reception. Fay had decided she would buy the mink coat and leave without participating in any of it. She immediately went outside the store and put the coat in a trash container and set it alight. She paid for the coat herself and the protest was organized by her as an individual.

Fay’s feelings of anger at using animals to produce fur are clearly expressed in her face. The three woman on either side of Fay were journalists who were fascinated with why a suburban mother and homemaker would do such a thing. The journalist on the left clearly shares Fay’s horror.

It is worth noting that when I took this photograph there was very little campaigning against fur and very little public understanding of the animal cruelty involved in producing fur. Fay and I were, however, regular participants in anti-fur protests outside Harrods, which we fondly called Horrids, from 1977 to the early 1980s. Britain’s primary anti-fur group, Lynx, was not formed until 1985 when Greenpeace anti-fur campaigners left to form the organization. Lynx subsequently became the excellent organization, Respect for Animals.

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