I know I haven’t posted in a long time. I’m planning a round-up, but in the meantime, here is a short video tribute to the Heygate:
Found this on Youtube this morning:
Mostly old folks gathered in a community hall – I”m guessing the hall behind what used to be the doctor’s office, now the office for the Heygate Tennant’s Association. Probably the last time people got together like this on the estate.
It says a lot that in the six or seven months I lived on the Heygate, I was hardly aware that this older, white working class still existed. The faces I saw were mainly those of immigrants – Africans, South Americans, East Euros. This, I”m sure, had a lot to do with the fact I was an immigrant myself, albeit of a different kind. But it does say a lot about the alienating power of the estate, when you can’t even get a sense of the people who live around you.
Where are these folks now, I wonder?
The person behind this has made his/ her site invite only (why?) since I last checked it a couple of days ago, but supposedly there is a campaign on to paint the heygate estate.
I have six world renowned well known urban artists (local and overseas) who have told me personally that they want to come down to paint the Heygate and work with this local community. Imagine the possibilities.
A photographer named Anthony Wallace posted this short Photo essay called Sealed Up in a magazine called ‘actuphoto’. He writes that he discovered some workers sealing off another empty flat while he was exploring the estate.
“Inside, an old armchair had been left behind during the evacuation. The sunken seat cushion conjured up images of who had sat there and what kind of people had occupied the flat up until the previous day.The head of the welding team granted me permission to photograph other flats whilst they were being sealed. I found myself emphasizing with the abandoned objects and decided that I would collect one as a representative of each property.These photographs are a way of preserving the living spaces and some of the memories entombed in them.
Photographer Hannah Lucy Jones had a photo exhibit of the Heygate Estate at a group exhibition in Camberwell in February, 2009.
The first residents moved into the Heygate estate in Walworth in the early 1970’s. Never aesthetically pleasing, the estate has sunk into disrepair and does not meet the government’s 2010 Decent Homes standard. Some residents claim the Heygate has been abandoned by Southwark council. They complain of having no heating or hot water for days on end, of leaks and flooding, and of the council’s indifference to their housing needs.
The council promised residents brand new homes to move into on a like-for-like basis. However, the redevelopment has fallen behind schedule, and so far only 12 new flats have been built specifically for Heygate residents, at Wansey Street (completed 2006), of the projected 1000 plus. Southwark council has now brought forward the date by which all residents must have left the Heygate to September 2009. It is unlikely that any of the remaining 15 developments will be completed by this date, so the vast majority of Heygate residents are now having to use the Homesearch system and move into existing council stock in Southwark.
As the rehousing process – or ‘decant’ as the council phrases it – continues, the Heygate estate is gradually emptying out. To begin with empty flats were ineffectually barred off, and either squatters moved in or looters stole scrap metal such as water pipes from the empty flats, causing flooding in connecting flats still occupied. Now welding teams are on site all day, welding shut empty flats with grey steel boards. Some floors are now entirely empty and blocks such as Kingshill have become frightening places for the few residents left, who might live in the only flat still occupied, next to 21 other empty flats on their floor. Southwark’s Executive Member for Housing Kim Humphreys warned residents in November 2008 that as the estate emptied and became more unsafe, people were vulnerable to violence and even murder if they continued living on the estate and resisting a move into existing council accommodation. The remaining residents argue they would leave if the council would give them the new homes they were promised.
More than 800 households have been moved off the estate. Yet 400 remain. Touching commentary by some the old people still living on the estate:
“They don’t want the working classes in this area . . . ”
“Put me on the scrap heap why don’t they?”
The bulldozers and builder’s bums are supposed to be making an appearance this summer, but we’ll see if they do.
Feller has a whole website out devoted to the Heygate Estate. Photographer feller. Photos, links, a little history. Does walking tours of the Heygate Estate and runs photography workshops.
Back on Kingshill . . . once you seen it, you don’t want to leave.