Remembering Robin Hood Gardens
Through the local charity network in and around E14, I’ve recently got to know an organisation called SPLASH, or South Poplar and Limehouse Action for Secure Housing.
SPLASH grew out of a collection of tenants and residents associations in 1988 in response to a lack of representation within Tower Hamlets Borough. It exists to advocate for and to improve the lives of residents, like running for example health projects and campaigning for better homes. Over time it has worked with lots of the residents on the Robin Hood Gardens estate (RHG) where I live.
I was casually speaking to someone at SPLASH about the importance of stories as a way to connect with and encourage people to play a more active part in local life. Before I could say much more, I was asked whether I wanted to help out on a new project about local people’s histories. Because I’m a bit nosey and like to know about the places and people where I live, I jumped at the offer.
The idea is to hear and collect people’s stories of RHG before the whole thing comes down, it’s too late and they’re lost for ever. It’s important you know RHG is being levelled to make way for a brand-spanking shiny new estate.
So I, with the help of mates, will meet with as many people as possible – of all cultures, ages and faiths – to hear the stories of families, friends and neighbours who have lived on the estate. We will then produce a booklet with what we’ve heard and the pictures we’ve received, to narrate a small part of the estate’s history that will go to each of the 200 odd homes.
RHG is in immigration heavy East London and has been lived on for over forty years by thousands of people. It’s also attractive to some for its brutalist architecture, I guess we’ll find out if the fondness is shared among residents.
I hope to hear stories in the broadest sense of the word – accounts, opinions, gossip, myths – the folklore of RHG if you like.
The marketing drive has begun with posters, emails and talking. I can’t wait to get started.