Radical Housing in Tower Hamlets

I’ve just been to this and it’s well worth a visit.  I’m always wary of excessively celebrating ‘the fight for a better yesterday’, but this exhibition has some important lessons for today.  It chronicles the radical tenant-led organisations, rent strikes and squatter movements that fought for – and won – better housing conditions in the East End as they did elsewhere.  Too much has already been lost, but it would be a further betrayal of their struggle if we allow this Tory government to turn the housing clock back even more with its Housing and Planning Act.  I was particularly struck by the campaign of mass non-payment and huge demonstrations against the rent rises proposed by the GLC in the late 1960s/early 70s, a clear parallel with ‘Pay to Stay’ AKA the Tenant Tax.

Tower Hamlets Radicial Housing History

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8 Responses to Radical Housing in Tower Hamlets

  1. Andrew Lloyd says:

    Maybe a Tory minister should be invited to visit the exhibition? Fat chance they’d go. That period of the rent strikes, wasn’t that when Horace Cutler was in charge of housing? He helped start the whole right to buy movement, before Maggie took it up.

  2. Dave Roberts says:

    Yes a very good exhibition. I went to the lecture by Sarah Glyn a couple of weeks ago. I’ll come back later with the link to her site which is a mass of information on housing generally but particularly on the East End.

  3. Dave Roberts says:

    And this Saturday the 1976 TV film ” Goodbye Longfellow Road”. In the same location.

  4. Dave Roberts says:

    Don’t know if any of you made it to the showing, it was well attended by a hundred or so people. It was strange watching people I knew and houses I was in forty years ago. Great history.

    • Glyn Robbins says:

      No I didn’t Dave, but I’m very pleased that – at long last – housing is beginning to penetrate the mainstream consciousness. I don’t think we can reach the future through the past, but we definitely need to learn lessons from it. Do you know if the film is available in any other format?

  5. Dave Roberts says:

    Contact the organisers. It was made by Yorkshire TV and the curators have obtained it from somewhere. Along with The Secret History of Our Streets it is essential viewing for this period.

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