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Making a home in maritime London

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An oral history project

Community members from Fred Styles House
View full size imageCommunity members from Fred Styles House. © NMM

Britain's capital city at the start of the 21st century is home to an astonishing diversity of peoples, cultures and languages.

As a global port and the centre of the British Empire and Commonwealth, London has always attracted people from across the world.

Many came to London to work in the port and its associated industries, some were seeking refuge and a better life for themselves and their families.

Some merely passed through the port, while others stayed and made their home in the capital. The result of this influx can be seen around us today.

Billboard on Vanguard Estate
View full size imageBillboard on Vanguard Estate. © NMM

The National Maritime Museum's Community Development Team worked with people in local sheltered housing to find out what brought them to London and what types of accommodation they have had since their arrival.

The project was conducted in conjunction with the Peabody Trust and Age Exchange in Blackheath. Its participants were families and older people living in the sheltered housing unit on the Vanguard Estate in Deptford, together with first generation, post-war immigrants resident at the Len Clifton House in Lewisham.

The work was launched and promoted using installations created by community artists 'Cut and Paste'. This was followed by a series of workshops and exercises with residents to explore housing issues and what makes a home for them.


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