1970s SE1 social action chronicled in app-based tour

A new self-guided walking tour takes you around the SE1 area bringing the community campaigns of the 1970s and 80s to life.

1970s SE1 social action chronicled in app-based tour
In the 1970s and 80s North Southwark Community Development Group (NSCDG) was based in this building on the corner of Great Guildford Street and Copperfield Street, SE1. NSCDG was formed in 1972 to give a voice to local people campaigning for improved social and housing conditions in the Borough and Bermondsey. In 1974 it set up a Community Planning Centre funded by an Urban Aid Grant. Bob Colenutt (holding the photo) was one of the workers there. Photo by Paul Carter Β© / SE1 Stories

Using the PocketSights phone app you can take the tour virtually or allow it to lead you from one location to another on a real walk.

The tour has been developed from the SE1 Stories group’s exhibition  Blackfriars SE1 in the 1970s: Community Action in a London Neighbourhood

The SE1 Stories project includes several people who were involved in the SE1 community newspaper that circulated between 1975 and 1991.

All the back numbers of the old SE1 paper were digitised and published online by Southwark Archives in 2020.

The new walking route was launched in December with 20 participants taking part in a guided tour by members of the SE1 group.

On a sunny but chilly day, they made their way up Blackfriars Road to the river, round past the Globe, and back through north Bermondsey - pausing briefly at each location to learn what part it played in the community struggles of those years.

A set of photos taken in the 1970s were handed around at each stop to give an idea what campaigns the places were connected to and who were the driving forces behind them.

After two hours in the cold, the walkers were very happy to reach the last stop - Blackfriars Settlement on Rushworth Street.

The settlement provided a warm welcome, hot drinks and a hearty lunch. There were calls to do another guided walk, but on a warmer day!

Watch this space in the spring. In the meantime the tour can be followed via the Pocketsights app which is available for Android and iOS devices.

SE1 Stories is grateful to Professor Sue Brownill and Dr Debbie Humphry at the School of the Built Environment, Oxford Brookes University. They helped document the day with photography and audio recordings.

They also contributed to the costs as part of the department's Spaces of Hope / PeoplesPlans.org AHRC-funded research project which explores the hidden histories of community-led planning.

Find out more about SE1 Stories from their website and Instagram @se1stories.

The exhibition Blackfriars SE1 in the 1970s is on show at the Castle Centre until Tuesday 6 February. Next stop is Una Marson Library in Walworth, opening from Thursday 8 February. It will continue touring throughout 2024. Check the website for dates and venues as they are confirmed.

Tags: History, Southwark, Bankside, South Bank

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