Jane Clark
talking about
Ellingfort Road

What was the year that you moved into Ellingfort Road and what was your first impression of it?
I moved to Ellingfort Road in 1983, I was meant to move to Martello Street but when I went there someone had squatted the house so I was then put on to Ellingfort Rd. At the time, I can remember liking the garden and I can remember being traumatised by moving from Westgate Street because I had really liked the house. I came round here and realised that it was the only option that I had and I can remember going outside to the garden and it was really sunny and thinking, oh this is alright its South facing. The first thing I did when I first moved in was unpack the plants from Westagte Street ( before the boxes).It was a strange street, it was the largest street that I've lived on for some time and it was the first street for a long time where I felt that you actually made contact with your neighbours.It was full of shortr life housing associations and a variety of people, some very odd people. I remember there was a house that had been allocated for people with mental problems, there was another house where the man had lived all his life, he was now widowed and had a dog that he used to swear at a lot.Number 23, Mr Sawyer! He progressively became more out of it and would run up the street trying to find his wife. He used to like accosting you in the street and showing you how he could bring his knees up to his chin, and that he must be a footballer.
Was it in a bad state this house?
It was ok and I discovered that the person who had been in it before me was a squatter and that she had been moved out of here and she went around the corner and squatted the house I was meant to move into in Martello Street.The plumbing and the roofing were problems and still are, most of the money went into the plumbing.
Did you get a renovation grant?
Yes from the Arts Council, they were excellent those grants.
The properties were for two years initially from 1983 I think?
I remember being told it would be one to two years, and then early 1984 a newsletter came roundfrom the council planning committee under Brian Marsh and we went along to the meeting. I remember the woman there from Holly Street Estate wringing the condensation from her bed sheets out on to the floor.

What was the scheme called to redevelop?
I can't remember but the plans for the area were published and put on display in Broadway market.Spring of 1983?
It then became clear that the council was going to build Industrial Units on Ellingfort Road?
Yes The newsletter was to consult people about that.
By 1985/86 I think the Council had sort of decided that this was a kind of no go area at that time and they had the opportunity to develop something in Shoreditch so the emphasis movewd there.
The next thing that I became aware of was the 92 UDP inquiry. What happened was that I had mety someone who is now a councillor but who certainly wasnt then overin the Lady Di pub.He had plonked himself next to me in the pub nd started going on about squatters in the area. I suppose what had happened between 86 and then was that all the short life housing associations in the area had gradually moved out. In this street number 43 was sold toi the council, no 7 was eventually auctioned, Tom with his 11 kids are still there there is no original person left.Gaps occurred in the street and then the squatting started.So I met this guy who is now a councillor and we started to argue about the street.About three months after that meeting he came round and told me that there was a UDP at the Town Hall in Hackney and that what had happened was that the government had come down on Hackney Housing to ask them what they had done with the money that they had been given to develop this area. So as he put it this was our last chance to be there as a body representing the community because there had been another inquiry and no-one had found out about it, it had remained a tiny insert in the back of the Hackney Gazette.So there was this extraordinary meeting where one or two of us were allowed to say things about what was happening on the street. I have all that paperwork.We were allowed to speak at this meeting but it was only a token gesture. There was this government person there and a government inspector who was going to come round, it prompted everyone to clean up the street and form this group that called itself ELFCAG, East London Fields Community Action Group.So, there was a big panic for a while and then it all subsided. Then eventually in I suppose 1993 this person who is now a councillor approached me again and said that he really wanted to think about ways to develop the area. He had a bee in his bonnet and at the time was a thorn in the side of Hackney Council, he was someone who had lived in the community for years and who was just this constant agitant. He was involved in the Graham Road Neighbourhood Association, with London Fields Users Group and was generally a sort of Council nuisance.

So who is the Councillor?
Pete Snell.
What is are the most recent developments with the street?
Well initially Pete Snell formed a group which was initially formed of mainly artists and people not living in the area. There was Tim & Amanda, Jeff who had history of the housing, Jo who has a bike shop on Mare street and myself from the street, the rest were not.There was a lot of publicity and the group called itself The London Fields Renewal Partnership and that gradually worked from 93 onwards. There were various points in time when the council tried to go ahead with their plans that they were sticking to.
Were they still in trouble with the government?
We never ever heard about that it was brushed aside and suddenly they were getting their act together.
Was that part of the post Thatcher urban regeneration scheme with small workshop units?
Yes there was this man called Don Kemmal. Tom Hunter was making his model, there was stuff in the Hackney Gazette.
What happened eventually was the London Fields Renewal Partnership handed over to London Fields Solutions which was the people on the street and what has happened now is that they have negotiated the council into the position whereby they have to raise funding within a year to buy the houses.

Is that all houses in the street?
No we had to give up eight, and they are going to demolish the property and build live/work units.
So you get this end of the street?
Yes, it was a bargaining situation. London Fields Solutions got involved with Buildings for Change in Manchester.There were various plan options.The issue is where the money comes from. We have to raise 15000 to be allowed to have the property to develop within five years. The problem is that no-one in this community can afford that sort of money

Interview with Jeff Marson

Interview with Brian Marsh

Other Educated Persons
Artists and Art Organisations in the East End of London 1972 to present day