News, info, thoughts and links from Lordship Hub, Lordship Rec and Central Tottenham
9th May 2020
We can all feel very fortunate and inspired by living in a neighbourhood that has such a great history of community initiatives to improve the local area for the people living in it, which still continues to this day. Looking around us, the fruits of past struggles and campaigns by local people can be seen and enjoyed everywhere. In this blog, we will look at just a few.
A brief History
The first part of Tower Gardens Estate was started in 1903 by the London County Council and it was its first ‘garden suburb”. It was originally built for the rehousing of working class residents from the slums of Whitechapel in Tower Hamlets (which is the connection to the name Tower Gardens). The money for the project came from a Jewish philanthropist who had been a Liberal MP for Whitechapel demanding that the working class residents should be rehoused, without distinction of race or creed. By 1915 there were 963 homes. The chief architect, WE Riley was strongly influenced by William Morris’s Arts and Crafts movement and Garden City, ideals which gave Tower Gardens its special character. Building stopped during the first world war which took a heavy toll on the working population. As a result the Estate was extended, named the White Hart Lane Estate and continued to the 1930s with a total of 2229 dwellings.
Residents get organised
An active Tenants’ Association, The White Hart Lane Estate Welfare Association, was founded in 1919. The rents were relatively high and rates had to paid on top, and the Association took up this and other issues like the lack of electricity on the Estate. They campaigned for a community hall (which they did not get) and used local school facilities to meet where they organised many community events including sports, whist drives, dances and flower shows. They also had their own savings and loan club with 800 members. The Association continued to be active into the 1960s and since then new groups have developed to support the Estate and its residents.
The Tower Gardens Estate Conservation Committee was very active in the 1980s successfully lobbying for conservation of the estate’s historic character. The Tower Garden Residents’ Network was set up in 1998 fighting for improvements and tenure on the estate, and building up community mutual aid and solidarity. There were meetings, bulletins and surveys and much successful campaigning for traffic calming measures, re-opening of a derelict allotment site, and safety in Tower Gardens Park – and support for the founding of the Friends of Lordship Rec in 2001.
Then the Tower Gardens Residents Group was set up and is still active today.
See this link for a more detailed history
Friends of Tower Gardens Park
There is an active Friends Group in Tower Gardens Park with local people taking control of the area that had become very neglected and dangerous. They organise regular clean up and gardening days and have lobbied and worked with the council to share their vision for their park to make it a wonderful place for local residents to enjoy. A Community Action Plan has been developed devised and agreed by all (see below).
Friends of Tower Gardens Park:Email: email@example.com
Twitter at @TowerFriends
BROADWATER FARM ESTATE
The history of Broadwater Farm Estate is so much more than just riots, It predates them and includes the tireless work of many residents working to make it a safe and decent place to live, and running popular activities for children and young people.
Broadwater Farm Estate showing the beautiful waterfall mural by Bernette Hall and
Donald Taylor, 1991
Broadwater Farm Estate was built in 1967. Because it was built in a river valley subject to flooding, the concrete blocks were built off the ground. The first floor was linked by interconnecting walkways, with other walkways above that made the lower ones very dark. Shops were also on the first floor so there was really no connection with ground level that limited a feeling of true community. There were few facilties. By 1973 conditions on the estate had deteriorated and became damp and pest infested. The hidden, dark walkways became a hotspot for criminal behaviour. Unemployment on the estate was high. People did not want to move onto the estate.
The residents take control
The authorities wanted to demolish the estate but many residents fought against this. Community leaders emerged, determined to revive the Estate and challenge its poor reputation and in 1981 the Broadwater Farm Youth Association (BWFYA), founded by Dolly Kiffin, including a young Clasford Stirling, MBE who still puts so much into Lordship Rec’s sports field and the estate today. The Youth Association set up a youth club and advice centre and began to lobby for change. Eventually the Council saw the wisdom of working with the residents to deal with concerns together.
However, despite all the advances made, underlying problems still persisted, the Afro-Caribbean community still suffered disproportionate disadvantage and unemployment was high. There was growing distrust of police. Raids on members of the black community were common and it was during one of these raids that Cynthia Jarrett, the mother of a young man who was a member of the Youth Association, collapsed and died. Residents planned a peaceful demonstration outside Tottenham Police Station but their progress was blocked and a state of siege existed that caused an escalation that culminated in the death of a policeman, PC Keith Blakelock. An inquiry found that policing and police attitudes needed to change, and recommended improvements to the estate (and to Lordship Rec).
Building on the previous good work of the Youth Association, work began with the council to take action to improve living conditions on the estate, adding a community centre, health centre, neighbourhood office, and enterprise centre and by 1993 the walkways were removed, shops were moved to ground level and concierges and children’s play areas were introduced. The Youth Association established a remembrance garden for those affected by the riots, murals were created and training and enterprise initiatives were set up with local labour being used to do the renovations. And Broadwater Farm Residents Association was set up and is still active today.
Since that time the estate has become a much safer place and until the decision was made to demolish a couple of the blocks that were deemed of dangerous construction, the estate has always been full. There is now an excellent school with an integrated campus for children with disabilities and a great children’s centre. Clasford Stirling and others continue to do amazing work with young people and families and run several youth football teams for boys and girls.
For more detail see this blog about the history of Broadwater Farm
To make history come alive, take this local Community Empowerment Walk
Locally-made film about Broadwater Farm
Local community artist, Wendy Charlton made this fantastic film The Farm – Narratives of Home, telling the stories of 4 residents on Broadwater Farm in collaboration with local spoken word artist, Abe Gibson.
LORDSHIP RECREATION GROUND
A long history of local involvement that has transformed the park landscape and also the relationship between residents and the council.
Community Action in Lordship Rec
After years of Government cuts to public services, Lordship Rec had deteriorated. Facilities were inadequate and there was no staffing. In the 1990s, Broadwater Farm Estate residents drove forward regeneration on their estate and in the park. They organised multicultural festivals in the new community centre and in the park. Broadwater United football teams multiplied and they began to manage the sports pitch in the Rec. Local people helped to plant the current Woodland at the south of the park. Some physical improvements were then made in the Rec with drainage in the main field and a new BMX track but chronic lack of staffing and maintenance continued. The Mother & Toddler Group took over the disused small park building by the lake as play a facility and they continue to hold sessions in the Hub today.
The creation of the Friends of Lordship Rec
In 2001 the Friends of Lordship Rec was formed, inspired by the work of the Friends of Downhills Park and the successes on the neighbouring estates (see above). The aim was to raise the profile of this ailing space and to make improvements to encourage local people to use the park again. The Friends raised money for projects like the regeneration of the lake area and the creation of a rustic track through the woodland along with information boards. They also organised annual festivals and conservation workdays in the park to engage local people. This has resulted in a number of volunteer groups across the rec, co-managing different areas like the orchard, the woodland, the spinney, the meadows, the river and the lake and encouraged sports and music groups to develop activities in the park which generated activities such as Bike Fest, Youth Fest, One World Folk Festival, Jazz Fest and Blockorama to name but a few.
The Lordship Rec Users Forum was set up in 2002 involving the Friends, other park user groups and local community organisations and Haringey Council. The Forum has met monthly since that time, being a place where coordinated discussion takes place about park improvements and the general running of the Rec. Through the Forum the Friends and others co-manage the park with the Council. A vision for community-led regeneration was developed through the Forum and this later became the blueprint for a bid made to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the major regeneration works in the Rec to bring old features back to life and to introduce new ones and make the Rec the fantastic place it is today. To demonstrate local demands to make our local park fit for purpose again, the forum brought everyone together to organise a large “Restore the Rec Festival” in 2008 involving around 4000 people.
A huge photo opportunity at the “Restore the Rec” Festival in 2008. So many people wanted to have their say!
In 2012, this culminated in the present refurbishment of the Shell Theatre, Model Traffic Area and main entrance, including the old toilet block on Lordship Lane that is now a bicycle project, Rockstone Bike Hut, and the introduction of a new bike dirt track and a beautiful new Hub building. Not least was the creation of a new channel for the Moselle River with bridges and water plants. After the works 8,000 local people attended a Lordship Rec ‘Re-launch’ Community Festival in September 2012.
For more information see the BBC Countryfile broadcast about the Rec: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yjvb9MxxDrw
Or check out the Friends of Lordship Rec website: www.lordshiprec.org.uk
Downhills shelter memorial
An active member of the Friends of Lordship Rec, now sadly deceased, Ray Swain, spent a lot of time dedicated to finding information about a terrible tragedy that happened in the Rec during World War II. A bomb fell during an air raid and entered the ventilator shaft of a shelter, killing many local people. This information had been suppressed during the war and the loss of over 40 people had never been commemorated until Ray sought out the information and set about contacting relatives. So many people were so grateful to him and the Friends appealed for money to create a permanent memorial that you can now see on the path by the woodland in the Rec, carved by a local sculptor Gary March. The photo above is of the commemoration event organised by the Friends and attended by families of the victims and some survivors with the memorial sculpture inset.
To find out other interesting bits of local history see the fantastic website that Ray and his brother created. It is a mine of fascinating information and photographic evidence.
Residents, still doing it for themselves
Lordship Hub is the jewel in the crown of the park improvements made in 2012 and is the perfect base from which to continue the regeneration of the park and the wider area. The Friends had not at first intended to run the Hub but just wanted to be a partner in it, but as no appropriate tenant came forward, it seemed obvious that if it was to become a truly community building then we had to take it on. Over the past 6 years, hundreds of people have had a hand in making the Hub what it is today. The Hub is run as a cooperative and all users are welcome as members. The aim of the Hub is empowerment of people and the strengthening of our community, allowing people the opportunity to get involved and be part of a collective movement for change. On the one hand it is a café with rooms available for parties, classes and events but on the other hand it is the support and base for all the voluntary groups in the park and also a place where people can volunteer, learn new skills and feel committed to their community. Long may it thrive!
One bit of Coronavirus support on masks and mask making: www.instituteofmaking.org.uk/blog/2020/05/face-coverings-faqs
BE A PART OF THIS BLOG:
For the future, we want to chronicle the lock down with examples of neighbourhood projects you have been involved in, moments of collective joy and new skills you or your family have developed or shared during lockdown be it fabulous artwork, crafts or poetry/prose or delicious cookery (with recipes). Send photos, documents or videos to firstname.lastname@example.org.