Part 5: community

Jubilee street parties. Festivals for 50th anniversary of St Pancras Housing. Housing tensions: the 1980s Right to buy introduced by Thatcher. Squatting. More multi-racial as Asian influx. Youth clubs and pub pram races popular.

George and family move to Oakshott Court in the 1970s, the brand new low rise Camden Council estate that replaces the old Polygon tenements, originally built for railway workers. George is active on his tenants’ committee. Levita House is squatted by Jeremy Hardy, and Julian Temple films Una Sapetis there. Tensions over housing and a low point. Shane Meadows makes a film ‘Somers Town’. By the 2000s there are new developments: The British Library, Eurostar, the Francis Crick Institute and more. George retires, is widowed, but the family still meet each week at sister Nelly’s flat, who is over 90.

Image of a hand-drawn magazine advertisement for Somers Town Festival 1974
  • Festivals

    ‘...perhaps Somers Town can claim, more than most neighbourhoods, to have retained its village flavour. The Housing Association has stressed for fifty years that need to preserve a community. Our flats are only part of a larger neighbourhood, and the Somers Town Festival had drawn these parts together in mutual enjoyment of a united effort.’ - Margaret White

  • Community activism

    ‘When I started, the advice worker, Shelia’d put the tea on and all her friends would come in. I remember this lady coming in whose father had died - demanding a proper funeral for him ‘no way he’s getting F** pauper’s funeral’ she said in choice language. So we raised a huge sum - they got a great Leverton’s funeral- a traditional Somers Town do.’ - Worker at Inquire

  • Adventure playground

    Plot 10 becomes an all-year round centre with gardens, adventure playground, pit for open air plays Festivals have African Drum bands, Pub Pram Races, carnivals, open air mass at Plot 10, with a tea party for 600 children, a fancy dress parade and disco.

Photo of two women at Somers Town Festival

Festival of cultures

  • Photo of a girl in a headscarf crossing the street in front of a taxi. Festival stalls are being set up in the background. Festival activism

    Community activist Alan Patterson and Steve Denholm kick off a new Festival of Cultures under the Somers Town St Pancras Arts (START) in 1997. Partly a response to a racist tensions exacerbated by the media after a murder, they aim to ‘bring people together’ and have a strong belief in community. Performers include Alexei Sayle, Madness, the Gurkhas, and Tibetan Monks, as well as scouts, ever popular Funfair and Pearly kings and queens.

Photo of a crowd in fancy dress passes in front of the Cock Tavern. Photo of two modern pearly queens being pushed in the pram race. Photo of a crowd of families watches the festival activities.
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