Laburnum Street

Even if you’re a Londoner, you probably don’t know Laburnum Street. Haggerston has never been the most glamorous area of Hackney, itself on many measures one of the more deprived areas of the country. Even the artist-led regeneration that has brought Shoreditch, Hoxton, Bethnal Green and elsewhere back onto the map of London hasn’t quite got to Haggerston yet, although there are a few studios around in old industrial buildings.

It’s an area with quite a lot going for it. Walking distance from the city. A canal, with an increasing number of desirable waterside properties being built. A new city academy rising. The large Suleymaniye Mosque on the corner. And plenty of other new developments not far away. But for the moment its most interesting features are the lively and very ethnically mixed people who live in the area, and (C) 2007, Peter Marshall, long neglected by Hackney Council, closed without notice in February 2000, and the subject of a lively local campaign to see it re-opened.

(C) 2007, Peter Marshall

The pool is a listed building, and English Heritage want it retained as a pool, as do the locals. Hackney Council have worked on feasibility studies which include a 25 metre pool together with other uses for the west side of the site, and the pool campaign have added their ideas to these proposals through a people’s consultation. The plans for the future are there, but not the £21 million to put them into practice.

(C) 2007, Peter Marshall
This was the only pool open for the street party

The first Laburnum Street Party was organised in 2004 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the pool, and to raise the profile of the campaign for its re-opening. I went to photograph the third party in 2006, and was pleased to have one of my pictures used as the main image on the flyer, poster and programme for this year’s party.

This year the event was bigger than ever, and attracted more sponsorship. There were around 75 street stalls of various types, including food, bric-a-brac and various informational stands. Two stages with performances of very different types and a childrens street parade, following workshops organised by Lucia Wey of Mush Arts, who I first met photographing the 2004 Shoreditch Parade. Free canal boat trips and various kids activities. So much going on that I could only photograph a small part of it, and was sorry to miss some of the acts I’d been looking forward to.

(C) 2007, Peter Marshall

Of course there were many other photographers there, as well as several film makers, including Dan Edelstyn whose hilarious film (with Hilary Powell) on the Olympics I mentioned here a week or so ago in More than the Olympics.

The weather was fairly kind to us, just a few minutes of heavy showers around lunchtime, and then some sun, and we made hay. Too soon it was time for me to go home.

More pictures from Laburnum Street Party 2007 on My London Diary shortly.

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