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- Introduction -

Inclusive Revitalisation?
1970s: The influx of the middle
classes to Islington and its effect on
housing, public space and social
relations.

University of
Liverpool
Liam Howley,
BA History V100
0

- Introduction -

Words: 10,285

- Introduction Contents
-

Introduction

Chapter One: Safe as Houses? Revitalisation

P.2

P.15
-

Chapter Two: Public Space or Private Space?


P.27

Chapter Three: Did Revitalisation provide Social


Integration? P.39

Conclusion

P.51

- Introduction -

Introduction :

As Dominic Sandbrook depicts in his lecture to the RSA on the


Way We Were: Britain in the 70s, we remember the 70s like this: a
decade with the biggest social and economic problems since World
War 2, with coal stocks running out, too many strikes, power cuts,
an economy plunging in to oblivion and a decade when politicians
lost their grip.1 Furthermore, the decade saw the continued
collapse of the British Empire, increased globalisation as well as a
continuing increase in consumerism.2 Shopping centres increased in
number and McDonalds made its first appearance in London in
1974.3 In amongst these changes, the Bank of England made a
radical reform in the autumn of 1971 which would truly change the
structure of the British Economy. It loosened restrictions on major
banks lending in a system known as Competition and Credit
control.4 This loosened lending controls and allowed greater
mobility, particularly for the middle classes, regarding house
ownership and access to mortgages. The lights for increased action
in the housing market turned from red to green and this may
explain the volatile situation in inner London, an attractive base for
1

Dominic Sandbrook, The Way we Were Britain in the 1970s lecture:


<http://www.thersa.org/events/video/vision-videos/dominic-sandbrook> accessed
11/03/2013
2
Dominic Sandbrook, State of Emergency, The Way we Were Britain 1970-1974
(Penguin UK 2011) PP.339,340
3
Dominic Sandbrook, The Way we Were Britain in the 1970s lecture:
<http://www.thersa.org/events/video/vision-videos/dominic-sandbrook> accessed
11/03/2013
4
Dominic Sandbrook, State of EmergencyPP.304-305

- Introduction professional middle class couples looking for a new place to live now
that they could own their own property.

Observed issues of race

and immigration also have their place in defining the decade. 6 In the
wake of Enoch Powells 1968 Rivers of Blood speech, 20 million
people regularly tuned in to the black and white minstrel show and
Enoch Powell was voted Britains most popular politician for three
years on the trot.7 It has also been said that since the mid-70s,
divisions between a prosperous minority and a depressed minority
have indeed deepened, as private rents have become higher and
council housing harder to get.8 These issues had an impact on Inner
London. Increased globalisation and the need for London to be a
centre for international trade, plus the rise in consumerism meant
cities needed to redesign themselves; leading to a rise in the
amount of new service and consumer industries (especially in
London). Post War immigration was also concentrated on inner
London.9 Thus the housing market was put under pressure (indeed
today London has the worst index for overcrowding) and issues of
race and diversity were a hot topic in 1970s Islington. 10

Dominic Sandbrook, State of Emergency PP.304-305


Alwyn W. Turner, Crisis? What Crisis? Britain in the 1970s (London 2008)
Introduction P.i
7
Dominic Sandbrook, The Way we Were Britain in the 1970s lecture:
<http://www.thersa.org/events/video/vision-videos/dominic-sandbrook> accessed
11/03/2013
8
Lynne Chrisholm, Childhood, Youth and Social Change a Comparative
Perspective ; a sharper lens or a new camera? Youth Research, Young People and
Social Change in Britain P.44
9
Ed. By A.H. Halsey British Social Trends Since 1900, A guide to the changing
social structure of Britain (London 1988) PP.575-578
10
Lynne Chrisholm, Childhood, Youth and Social Change a Comparative
Perspective ; a sharper lens or a new camera? Youth Research, Young People and
Social Change in Britain P.46
6

- Introduction -

Nonetheless, this narrative of the decade neglects important


changes at local level. This is a local history study of Islington which
by the 1860s was becoming encompassed into the surrounding
inner city slums which were oozing out over Inner London. Estates
and terraces were originally built for city clerks, junior executives
and local merchants. But, as the slums began to cover more of
inner London, rich occupants of Angel, Canonbury and Barnsbury
left their houses which rapidly went in to multi-occupation. 11 More
recently things have changed and this project has chosen the 1970s
as the period from which to begin to measure this historical change.

As a result of its changing structure, Islington has received a


lot of academic attention, specifically regarding the issue of
gentrification, since Ruth Glass coined the term in reference to
Islington in 1964.12 Since 1964 gentrification has remained a
pressing subject and has caused immense economic and social
change in Inner London.13 Nonetheless, since illustrations of the
change in 1964, Tom Slater explains that the term gentrification has
been dropped from use more recently, being replaced by terms such
as regeneration and revitalisation by people such as Richard
Florida in his book The Rise of the Creative Class. Richard Florida
11

Finsbury museum
. Ed. Loretta Lees et. Al The Gentrification Reader, Ruth Glass: London: Aspects
of Change (1964) P.7
13
Ed. Loretta Lees et. Al The Gentrification Reader, Loretta Lees A reappraisal of
Gentrification: Towards a Geography of Gentrification (2004) PP.382-395
12

- Introduction argues that economic growth is driven by concentrations of


educated people.14 Although he cautions it, he does not pay enough
attention to the idea that poverty, unemployment and other social
ills may be made worse without appropriate human interventions
and sufficient attempts to build stronger communities based on
diversity and social cohesion.15

This dissertation will examine 6 different interviews with


people who resided in Islington since the 70s. The choice of Islington
as an area of study is partly due to the prevalent nature of
gentrification in this borough. Close proximity to the centre of
London helps explain its desirability to young professionals looking
for a place to live nearby work:

14

Florida, Richard Cities and the Creative Class (New York 2000) P.33
Florida, Richard The Rise of the Creative Class Review by Ted Naylor Canadian
Public Policy, Analyse De Politiques, Vol.29 No.3 (Sep 2003) PP.378-379
15

- Introduction -

Figure 1.1: Islington in relation to the rest of London

Source: <http://www.islington.gov.uk/islington/maps-statistics/Pages/borough_map.aspx>

Raymond Whatley
and Pete Fabbri:
Spa Green Estate
(Finsbury)

Figure
1.2:
The
the
difference
in
interviewees had within

- Introduction -

following maps explain


location
my
Islington.

Hassan: The Avenue


Hair Salon (Finsbury)

Cauline Braithwaite:
Battledean Road
(Highbury)

Cauline Braithwaite:
Bryantwood Road
(Holloway)

- Introduction -

Oral History

Oral history has been chosen because it allows a clearer


insight into the local history of Islington. There has not been enough
research done on the economically and socially vulnerable during
the regeneration of Islington. There are limits to such a research
method that must be taken in to account, however. For example,
nostalgia (the wistful longing for a past age) and composure (the
impact of narrators wanting to portray a positive version of their
life) may affect the way people spoke to me. On top of this reverseimaging, may have led to interviewees overstating the happiness of
their past as they compared it to their loneliness or worry today. 16
Furthermore, respondents may often draw on common culture,
cultural circuits and collective discourses and their opinion is
perhaps not always completely their own.17 For example, collective
dialogue and media discourse may enter the memory and help
structure it: like popular anecdotes told between members of a
Trade Union or stories in a particular magazine or newspaper. 18
Nonetheless, the bias, and misremembered stories or facts, can
work to our advantage as they provide evidence of what the
interviewee considers most important in hindsight. Even where
16

Samuel, Raphael and Thompson, Paul The Myths We Live By (1990 London) P.8
Abrams, Lyn Oral History Theory (London 2010) Glossary
18
Elizabeth Tonkin Narrating Our Pasts: The Social Construction of Oral History
(Cambridge 1995) Introduction
17

- Introduction collective discourses have had an impact on ones memory, we can


make inferences about popular opinions or the ideologies of
particular groups of people. Further, who is considered a villain
(symbolically) in the stories the interviewees tell, even when
inaccurate, inform one of the internalised stresses, worries and
perceived enemies of the interviewer and so help achieve a clearer
picture of how the past is imagined by those who lived it. 19 The time
between the interview and the event means that we are hearing
what one thinks in hindsight. Perhaps the interviewees opinions
have changed; these changes in opinion remind us of historical
change. The interviews also remind us that there is no essential
oneness to experiences in social history.20 Thus, although like all
historical sources there are hazards one must be aware of when
studying oral history in terms of complete authenticity, an awful lot
can be learned from oral testimonies about how real people imagine
the past to have been. Their memories can also lead us towards
researching topics we may never have thought to look at. 21

This

way more access to the complexities of mental life in Islington and


Finsbury is gained.

19

Tosh, J., The Pursuit of History, 3rd ed. (London, 1999) P.31 and Thompson, Paul.
The Voice of the Past: Oral History (Oxford 1978) P.4
20
Thompson, Paul. The Voice of the Past: Oral History (Oxford 1978) P.1
21
Thompson, Paul. The Voice of the Past: Oral History (Oxford 1978) P.3

10

- Introduction -

Name

Year of
birth

Place of
Birth

Residence in the
1970s

Peter
Fabbri

1947

Islington

Raymon
d
Whatley

1944

Islington

Cauline
Brathwai
te

1957

Guyana

(Community
housing)
Spa Green Estate,
Rosebery Avenue,
London,
EC1R
(Community
housing)
Spa Green Estate,
Rosebery Avenue,
London,
EC1R
(Squatted in)
Battledean Road,
Higbury,
London,
N5
--------------------------------(Shared house with
teacher from school)
Priorswood Road,
Highbury,
London,
N5

Hassan
(surnam
e not
disclose
d)
Betty
Foley

Russell
Craig

Est. late
40s, early
50s (not
disclosed)

Cyprus

1939

Scotland

1948

New
Zealand

(Privately rented
accommodation)
Rosebery Avenue,
London,
EC1R
(Privately rented
room)
Colebrooke Row,
Islington,
London,
N1
(Privately rented
accommodation)
Upper Street,
Islington,
London,
N1

Gender,
occupation during
the 70s and social
class
- Male
- Catering
- Working class

Male
Train signal box
Working class

Female
Student/political
activist
Working class

Male
Hairdresser
Working class

Female
Social service
secretary
Working class

Male
Self-employed
theatre stage
director
Middle class

11

- Introduction -

The project will use interviews from participants of varied


backgrounds. Nonetheless, this can give us an insight as to whether
different types of people considered the area inclusive. The
interviewees have in common that they lived in either community
housing or rented accommodation. Thus, analysis of their opinions
and experiences with housing can be used together. Furthermore,
each interviewee resided in an area which could be considered
gentrified today. Likewise, they are all of an age which means that
they were still relatively young adults during the 70s. Thus, changes
in terms of housing and the nature of public space and who is
prioritised within it during the process of gentrification can be
analysed by using these interviews together.

The incoming gentrifiers, rather than the displaced, seem to


receive much of the academic attention.22 Perhaps this has been due
to the ease of access to gentirifiers as opposed to difficulty in
contacting the displaced.23 Thus this dissertation has sought to
interview people who lived in cheap (private or community) housing
in the 70s and have witnessed and experienced the change. They
will have different perspectives to the incoming middle and upper
classes. This dissertation seeks to determine the influence of the
influx of middle classes it has to measure change since. Thus, some
22

Slater, Tom. International Jorunal of Urban and Regional Research Volume 30.4
The Eviction of Critical Perspectives from Gentrification Research.
23
Butler, Tim. Living in the Bubble: Gentrification and its 'Others' in North London,
Urban Stud 2003 40: 2469 P.2473

12

- Introduction of the information used to measure change touches on more recent


sociological research.

Through these methods, this dissertation hopes to debate


long-running questions like the idea that through gentrification
mono cultures of race and class can be dissolved. 24 The project
would like to contest more modern ideas of revitalisation that Tom
Slater scorns (claiming talk of structural change in gentrified areas
is now being focused on the street level spectacle such as trendy
bars and cafes). Essentially this project wants to support Tom
Slaters contestation of the idea that gentrification is a sign of
healthy economic growth for future cities across the globe. 25 As the
real effects of gentrification are often hidden from the view of the
outsider the interviews are an important piece of research. 26 There
are limits to the research method; still though, I believe if these
limits are taken in to account the research will prove to be of great
value. Alongside these transcripts, other secondary literature and
primary sources (such as local newspaper articles) will help develop
a refined argument that revitalisation is not all it seems to be to an
outsider.

The metanarrative of gentrification often overlooks problems


that existed prior to gentrification (often idealising the nature of the
24

Laurie Taylor BBC Radio 4


Slater, Tom. The Eviction of Critical Perspectives from Gentrification Research.,
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research Volume 30, Issue 4, pages
737757, December 2006 P.2
26
Ed. By Loretta Lees The Gentrification Reader (London 2011) P.11
25

13

- Introduction communities displaced) and does not give enough attention to acts
of unity in the face of increased class polarisation. So the most
pressing questions will be about whether gentrification and the
right to buy affected the tenants using cheaper privately rented
accommodation and council flats; whether change in Islingtons
public space since 1970 affected ordinary people and whether
revitalisation provided social integration and inclusion.

14

- Introduction -

15

- Chapter One -

Chapter One: Safe as Houses? Revitalisation


In the Radio 4 analysis of gentrification there were two main
arguments about displacement from housing in inner London. All the
participants on the show in 2008 acknowledged the potential for
private renters displacement. Nevertheless, Dr Tom Slater argued
that one of the things that has been happening in London is that
council houses are being bought up and then let out to very
transient people. You see an area that used to provide social
housing, becoming dominated, too, by profit. While Sophie Watson
countered this, saying social housing meant that London was
provided with a genuine social mix; thus suggesting that those in
council homes were safe from displacement.1 This chapter will take
issue with these two narratives and hopes to offer a more nuanced
depiction of the extent to which both privately rented and publically
housed people, historically, have been threatened by displacement
in Islington. The chapter will argue that on one hand, there have
been worrying signs of displacement of the two council-housed
interviewees influence over their estate, but on the other hand it
would be patronising to ignore their resistance to this danger of
displacement. Furthermore, the threat of displacement to people in
cheap privately rented homes is supported by analysis of the
interviews.

Slater, Tom., Watson, Sophie., Thinking Allowed: Gentrification, BBC Radio 4


<http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00c1d1t> accessed 11/03/2013

16

- Chapter One Firstly, to understand the extent of the threat to the council
tenants in Islingtons property, one must have some understanding
of the changing attitudes to council housing nationwide. Since the
70s there has been less government investment in the production of
council housing, the introduction of right to buy rule (which gave
council tenants a chance to buy up their property for a subsidised
price) and a change in law (brought in means testing) which meant
that council housing was only made available for those who were in
dire need of it.2 Nonetheless, local authorities were not allowed to
use the profit of the sales from right to buy for reinvestment in to
housing. Instead, they were barred from using the capital made by
such sales.3

Thus across Britain, by 1995, 1.6 million homes had been


bought from councils leaving their housing stock severely depleted
and 95% of those housed by local authorities qualified for some
form of means tested benefits. 4 The lack of investment in council
homes and the ability of tenants to buy up (and so adapt and
refurbish their council homes) mean that a gap has opened up in
some housing blocks. This gap is between (dependent) council
housed tenants and the classes who can afford to buy up their
council homes. 5 This is good on the one hand as the bland nature of
modernist architecture is overcome by the ability of people to
2

Lynsey Hanley, Estates an Intimate History, P.135 and


Ibid, P.135 and The Great estate Michael Collins Documentary
4
Ibid, P.135-141 and Cox, Alan Public Housing, guide to Londons Archives
(Guildhall London 2007) P.13
5
Lynsey Hanley, Estates an Intimate History, PP.98-101
3

17

- Chapter One decorate their homes.6 On the other hand though, it has allowed
government and flat-livers to prioritise individual wealth over
preserving the collective wealth of the country. 7 Such class
fragmentation within blocks threatens Council Tenants influence
over decisions made about where to spend money on the estate (as
their interests may differ from the transient incomers) as well as
increasing the potential for their social alienation (even if they are
not directly displaced from their homes).

Spa Green Estate: Displacement and Resistance in the Face of


Revitalisation

On first glance of the Spa Green Estate in Islington (used as a


case study here), you would expect council tenants to be
outnumbered and overpowered by private tenants. The architect of
Spa Green Estate, Lubetkin made a huge contribution to British
modernist architecture. He was convinced that architecture was a
tool for social progress.8 Tecton, a firm he founded showed the
capacity for logical organisation which has rarely graced British
architecture; Spa Green was one of Tectons well-built structures
and still impresses architects today after more than sixty years. 9
6

The Great estate Michael Collins Documentary


Lynsey Hanley, Estates an Intimate History, New Edition (London: Granta Books
2012)PP.136, 143-146, 231-233
8
Design Museum and British Council., Berthold Lubetkin Biography, Designing
Modern Britain A paper held at the Design Museum Exhibition until 26 November
2006 and Allan, John., World Architecture Issue No.24 1993 PP.65-77 and
Glendinning. M, and Muthesius, S., Tower Block., (Yale 1994) P.110
9
Frampton, Kenneth., Modern Architecture, a Critical History 4th Ed. (Thames and
Hudson World of Art London 2007) P.123
7

18

- Chapter One Thus, Spa Green Estate (as a well-made piece of modernist
architecture by Lubetkins firm and in an up and coming area in
Islington opposite Saddlers Wells Theatre) would surely be more
desirable than most tower blocks and so lose more flats to privateowners. Indeed, a certain pride concerning the durability of the flats
is reflected in the interviews with Peter and Raymond. Their praise
of the quality of the housing is indicative of its durability. This is
evident here in Raymond Whatleys tale of two painters (from
English Heritage) who came to his flat:

These cupboards are originals When the painters


came in to repaint all of this, they took one look at
these cupboards and they said, blimey, look what
we got here! and I said whats the matter? And he
said, these doors are perfect!! He said they are!
and he called his mate in and they said weve never
seen a kitchen layout like this they are perfect you
know.10

Peter Fabbri supports this with his declaration that: he lived here
(Spa Green) for 63 years and never wanted to move anywhere
else.11 These interviews agree then, with the Sunday Times that
It is a tribute to the late, great architect Berthold Lubetkin that
while modernism came to be blamed for every ill-planned, ugly
10
11

Raymond Whatley interview P.11


Peter Fabbri P.1

19

- Chapter One council block, the tenants of the real thing never wanted to
leave.12 If it has been argued that council tenants voices struggle
to be heard in the average tower block or council home as they
are written off as an underclass, surely this situation would be
worst in Spa Green (as it an attractive block for private investors).
Raymond Whatley and Peter Fabbri, council residents in Spa Green
for the past half-century have noticed some changes. Raymond has
recognised a transformation of the social structure: Some flats
have been bought upYou might bump in to people (private
tenants) coming in and out of the block, but who they are I
havent the faintest clue Its not being anti-social you just dont
see em!13 While similarly, Peter Fabbri explains differences in
interests between private and council tenants regarding the
management of the estate: The leaseholders now they dont care
about the tenants, all they care about is their own property, and
they care about the estate grounds, they want to put plants there,
this that and the other. 14 On top of this, Peter Fabbri tells a story of
how

the

better-off

leaseholders

pinched

their

playground:

Motorists, were coming in, driving over the wire fencing and using
our playground as a car park, thats how its been ever since. 15
Here we see again the divide in interest and lack of correspondence
between the tenants and the leaseholders. The legitimacy of these
quotes must be taken with caution, however, because in his
12
13
14
15

Sunday Times 24/5/92


Raymond Whatley interview P.1
Peter Fabbri interview P.7, P.8
Peter Fabbri P.8

20

- Chapter One younger days Raymond virtually knew everyone in this block.
Upstairs, downstairs we knew em all. 16 Furthermore, Peter used to
be heavily involved in the Tenant Managers Association. 17 Due to
contrasts

between

then

(their

younger

days

of

more

able

involvement) and now, reverse-imaging (a contrast between then


and now) and nostalgia (a wistful longing for a past age) must be
taken in to account as possible influences on their current opinion. 18
Still, these quotes are symbolic of a growing atmosphere of division
between tower-block tenants of different social classes. It has been
argued that this problem of divisions between owner-occupiers and
council tenants could be solved by the de-commodification of
housing so that it was no longer seen as a financial asset.19

Thus it seems that relations between council-housed tenants


and

flat-owners

on

Spa

Green

Estate

were

not

completely

harmonious. Nevertheless, private tenants have not completely


taken over and Raymond and Peter have had an impact on the
estate throughout their residence there.

Especially since the

Tenants Charter Act of 1992 (added to the Housing Act of 1980),


which allowed the creation of Tenant Management Organisations so
that tenants could form management co-operatives to decide how
available funds should be spent on repairs, maintenance and
improvement. Many communities voted to set up TMOs to manage
16

Raymond Whatley interview P.1


Peter Fabbri P.8
18
Samuel, Raphael and Thompson, Paul The Myths We Live By (1990 London) P.8
19
Slater, Dr Tom., Thinking Allowed: Gentrification, BBC Radio 4
<http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00c1d1t> accessed 11/03/2013
17

21

- Chapter One estates.20 As Peter Fabbri explains, Spa Green was one of these
estates:

In the late 80s, the work wasnt getting done on the


estate, the caretaker I wont swear, but he was
doing nothing you know. The grounds was
always

dirty.

we

kept

on

complaining,

complaining, complaining. The council was taking no


notice of us, so we started up a tenants association
which I chaired for 3 years. Someone moved in as a
leaseholder, and said, Why dont we start a TMO?
N

said

whats

TMO?

Tenant

Manager

Organisation.21

The lack of influence Peter felt, when the council was in charge is
noteworthy here. The lack of influence Peter felt prior to the creation
of the TMO is reinforced by another symbolic tale of the local
authoritys unfair control over a council tenants lifestyle in Spa
Green Estate:

my mother put the washing out on the balcony one


day N (rent collectors) used to walk in an they said to
my mother, whose is all that washing out there. N they

20

Banchin, Paul and Rhoden, Maureen Housing Policy: an Introduction 4th Edition
(London Routeldge 2002) P.182-183
21
Peter Fabbri P.3

22

- Chapter One said remove that, thats not allowed (there was a drying
room upstairs in the block that tenants were supposed to
use) you know, n so this fella went in and he got a knife
an cut the rope. My mum nearly shinned him.

Peter tells two more tales; one of a woman who owned a dog
despite a ban on pets and another tale of his father removing the
door from the kitchen despite this not being allowed. 22 These tales
may be symbolic of the fact the local authorities in charge of council
housing were seen as an enemy in some respects. This supports
Lynsey Hanleys idea that in a lot of council estates the lack of
control and the feelings of dependency (on a faceless local
authority) were bad for a council tenants well-being and implies
that Peter felt a need for something like a TMO.

23

The fact that a

leaseholder suggested the TMO is important; it indicates the


potential for TMOs to help leaseholders and council tenants
integrate. Peter Fabbri feels that this was the right decision and to
this day supports the organisation: thats what we went for and I
think its better.24 Furthermore, to keep it representative, a TMO has
to contain a certain amount of council tenants. 25 Thus, it seems as
though

the

Tenant

Management

Organisation

has

been

sustainable method of looking after this estate. So, although there


appears to be a certain amount of division between certain social
22
23
24
25

Peter Fabbri P.2


Peter Fabbri P.1
Ibid P.3
Peter Fabbri P.8

23

- Chapter One classes on Spa Green, the creation of the Tenant Management
Organisation in 1995 has meant that council tenants voices have
not been displaced even in the face of gentrification.26

Displacement from Rented Accommodation during Revitalisation

The other pressing topic in terms of housing regards


affordable rent and the effect gentrification has had upon it; as one
of my interviewees (Betty) explains:

But I mean growing up, as a young adult people


could see there was a lot of money to be made out of
property and things. A lot of them were old and run
down, but I swears, people could see ahead of that.
So you had people coming in, affluent people, buying
up the properties, and it was a case of like theyd pay
people to move out so as they could take over the
houses. Theyd buy them, but they couldnt actually
throw them out, so what theyd do is theyd buy them
and then pay them to move out...27

Betty Foley sums up the idea of displacement here with her


experience of growing up in Islington in the 1970s. This is supported
26

<http://www.islington.gov.uk/islington/historyheritage/heritage_borough/bor_plaques/Pages/peoplesplaques.aspx> Islington
Peoples Plaques accessed 27/03/2013
27
Betty Foley interview P.1

24

- Chapter One by other stories told on this Radio 4 Programme and in other
secondary literature of winkling which refers to the concept of
people being thrown out of their homes and techniques of displacing
low rent tenants. One example on Radio 4 was given of a landlord in
Islington threatening to shoot a tenant if she took legal action
against him.28 With gentrification: Betty Foley, Hassan and Russell
Craig all mentioned a significant change in rented housing since the
1970s, some with more of a sense of loss than others. For example
Betty Foley tells a story of her mother-in-law being forced out of her
dwelling by an American couple who wanted the house due to the
fact it was Charles Lambs old house Colebrooke Cottage and
because it was an up and coming area. The sense of loss was clear:
my mother in law moved down there and died, and she never
wanted to go and we never wanted her to go. 29 Similarly Bettys
brother also lived on Colebrooke Row and was displaced in the 70s. 30
Russell Craig explains: Upper Street was quite run down The
real reason for living in upper Street was that rent was cheap. He
has given me a document which shows that his rent was 84 pounds
a month for a two-bed sitting room.31 Hassan agreed that rent has
increased dramatically in Islington.32 Thus, for those in cheap rented
accommodation gentrification was a worry and a problem. The
28

Butler, Tim Thinking Allowed: Gentrification, BBC Radio 4


<http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00c1d1t> accessed 11/03/2013and Slater,
Tom. The Eviction of Critical Perspectives from Gentrification Research.,
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research Volume 30, Issue 4, pages
737757, December 2006 P.740 cites Loretta Lees (1994:208)
29
Betty Foley interview P.2,
30
Betty Foley interview, P.6
31
Russell Craig interview P.1, PP.4-5
32
Hassan interview P.2

25

- Chapter One interviews here have been useful in confirming the argument that
since gentrification, dearth of supply of cheap housing in inner
London has worsened, as have mobility rates and inequality. 33

Those (apart from the poorest who qualify for council housing)
who did not have the resources to stay have been displaced from
areas they sustained throughout periods of neglect. Not many
interviewees noted the poor conditions of houses in the 60s and
70s. Russell Craig did. He moved to Islington due to the cheapness
of the property and its convenient location, but notes it was quite
run down.34 The other interviewees do not really mention the rundown nature of 1970s Islington. Perhaps this is due to the
interviewees wanting to retain their composure; composure may
have led to certain issues (that the narrators did not feel
comfortable talking about and/or did not feel would help them
compose the correct image of themselves) being left out of the
testimonies. In these cases, being born and bred in Islington and
Finsbury, perhaps means that criticising the history of the area may
tarnish their presentation of self.35 Furthermore, the freedom of
youth is often remembered in contrast to later life where one tends
to have more commitments; this is why youth is often spoken about
in an optimistic tone in the transcripts.36 Thus, although Betty,
Raymond and Peter are not critical of the quality of housing in their
33

Lynsey Hanley, Estates an Intimate History P.100 and Dr Tom Slater BBC Radio 4
Russell Craig interview P.1
35
Samuel, Raphael and Thompson, Paul The Myths We Live By (1990 London)P.8
36
Samuel, Raphael and Thompson, Paul The Myths We Live By (1990 London)P.8
34

26

- Chapter One younger days this must not wholly take away from the contradiction
that they put up with poorly maintained housing, only to be
punished with the threat of displacement during gentrification.

So during revitalisation were Islingtons poorer residents as safe as


houses?

It appears, from analysis of just two council tenants from one


estate, that the history of council housing in gentrified Islington is
more

complex

than

some

academics

have

assumed.

The

commodification of council homes under the right-to-buy law, and


a lack of government investment, has created a degree of class
division within council blocks. The interviewees from the Spa Green
Estate were concerned that the private tenants may have held
different

interests

to

themselves.

Despite

this

worry,

the

interviewees from the estate offered accounts of good relations with


some private tenants as well as a description of their Tenant
Management Organisation which has evidently been a good means
of developing a representative estate community. On top of this, the
interviewees from cheap privately rented accommodation supported
widely held beliefs that during Islingtons gentrification those with
less financial might were displaced. The limitations of the interviews
did

become

clear

in

regards

to

housings

change,

as

the

interviewees composure and perhaps an element of nostalgia led to


the run-down nature of Islington and Finsbury in the past being

27

- Chapter One neglected by some interviewees. So, houses may have improved in
condition since the 70s, but this has been at the expense of those
renting cheap accommodation and has threatened council tenants
interests in their own estates. Nonetheless, it must not be forgotten
that some degree of resistance to displacement of council tenants
has been shown by those in Spa Green Estate throughout its recent
history.

28

- Chapter Two -

Chapter Two: Public or Private Space?


Similarly to how all of the interviewees noticed a change in
the nature of housing since the 1970s, they will all have
experienced some change in the usage of local public space.
Culturally, Angel is perhaps the biggest draw of the area with
Finsbury, also culturally filled, not far away so will most likely have
changed their aesthetics the most out of all postcodes in this study.
Nonetheless, there are cultural attractions all over Islington and all
the interviewees are nearby each other. All of the areas hold a train
station which is just a short journey from Central London, Camden
and the West End. Thus these residents of Islington can draw on
some similar experiences regarding gentrification.

The changes in public space are related to changes to


housing. With the influx of middle-classes, the nature of public space
has changed over time. As a result of the slow development of
public space to suit middle class interests in certain areas this
chapter has drawn upon a large deal of recent sociological research.
The aim of this chapter is to assert that working class needs have
not been taken in to account in Islington via case studies of public
spaces considered important in its revitalisation such as Angel
(Upper Street, Chapel Market and Camden Passage) and Exmouth
Market in Finsbury. The dissertation will critique the idea that
redevelopment, through private investment, can improve the

29

- Chapter Two areas

cultural

image

synonymously

with

the

surrounding

communities collective well-being.1

The changes to public space are also related to concerted


council efforts to improve the areas aesthetics for the greater good
of everyone in the area. For example, as seen in a (non-confidential)
plan concerning the use of Clerkenwells public space (with imput
from the Planning Committee; the Islington Recreation Committee;
The Transportation Sub-Committee; The Housing Committee and the
Social Services Committee) in 1976 (Agenda Item P(a)2); the aim of
changes to space was to improve employment opportunities and the
appearance of the area. This would be achieved by replacing vacant
floor space with space available for letting for offices and other nonindustrial purposes. Furthermore, in this plan in 1976, existing
community buildings such as schools, social facilities like the Adult
Education Institute and specialised shops and pubs, and shops of
use value were all supposed to be kept as they provided a valuable
service to the working population. 2 Indeed, it could be argued that
City and Islington Adult Education Institute has remained useful to
the

local

population

in

keeping

with

this

original

ideal

of

regeneration; Cauline states that five years ago, she went to redo
her maths GCSEs there and: It was amazing, a fantastic college
because the staff were amazing, and the college provided for a
range of people: It was the first time ever I had really got to
1
2

Florida, Richard Cities and the Creative Class (New York 2000) P.33
Appendix 2

30

- Chapter Two mix with people who were new refugees and asylum seekers. 3
Nonetheless,

the

term

regeneration

(which

should

provide

inclusivity) should not be considered a totally accurate term in the


region of Islington since 1970.

Upon examination of changes in the use of public space in


Islington, a paradox is evident. On the one hand, public spaces
aesthetic is seen as a major factor in the revitalisation of cities. On
the other hand, the changes during revitalisation are supposed to
be beneficial for all.4 This is a contradiction because as the
aesthetics of an area becomes a prioritised, some are likely to be
socially and economically excluded. 5 For example as the council
invites private investors with the resources to try to improve the
social capital (the collective status) of the local area as a whole
(with the help of individuals with superior skills and expertise to
draw upon)6, gastro-pubs and other tasteful trades which provide
for the affluent incoming middle-classes succeed at the expense of
other businesses which provide greater use-value to ordinary
people. Although on the surface it appears that individuals with
cultural capital (in this case with better education in the realms of
property development or in service and business industries) may

Cauline interview P.13


Whitelegg, Drew From Market Stalls to Restaurant Row: the Recent
Transformation of Exmouth Market, The London Journal, Volume 27, Number 2,
November 2002 , PP.77-79
5
Ibid, PP.77-79
6
Florida, Richard Cities and the Creative Class (New York 2000) P.33
4

31

- Chapter Two help the area improve (aesthetically), in reality the area has largely
become more privatised and more exclusive.

To understand this contradiction further, it is important to


examine the meta-narrative of positive changes that the idealist
version of revitalisation would encompass. The main aim of
regeneration it could be argued, is to show displays of success
and vitality.7 Such displays of vivacity supposedly increase the
cultural reputation of the space and counter negative stigmas
attached to previously run down areas. 8 For example, Exmouth
Market was specifically chosen as an anchor for redevelopment for
the reason of bettering the image of South Islington. 9 Part of the aim
was to make the street available to all. 10 As Sophie Watson affirms,
markets have the potential to impact heavily on the social life of the
local residents; Markets have been key focal points in the centre of
British towns and cities for as long as they have been in
existence.11 Ideally, Watson suggests, markets can offer an
opportunity for social interaction and connection, social interaction
and the mingling of different cultures and the building of a sense of
local community.12 This would be achieved economically; providing
cheap goods that may not be available elsewhere as well as spaces
of inclusion for marginalised people to escape the monotony of life
7

Ibid P.79
Ibid P.79
9
Ibid P.77
10
Ibid P.79
11
Watson, Sophie and Studdert, David., Markets As Sites for Social Interaction:
Spaces of Diversity (Bristol 2006) P.1
12
Ibid P.3
8

32

- Chapter Two at home.13 (For example, in Sophie Watsons study of Ridley Road
Market in Hackney it was concluded that it provides every
imaginable fruit and veg and provides everything from fish, to
loans, to African hair pieces; objects of use value to a range of
consumers. Many interviewed from there in saw the market as a
place for meeting old acquaintances).14 It is important to consider
that, even in the most gentrified areas of Inner London, such as
Islington, the middle class is never a numerical majority. 15 Ideally
then, a positive and inclusive redevelopment of Islington would take
into account the surrounding cultures needs, including the working
class. Indeed, Exmouth Market was described in 1968 as a cheery
oasis in a desert of concrete, and a place where people of Finsbury
still pack looking for a bargain. 16 Nonetheless, since 1968 there
have been many changes in rules about what the market space can
be used for and it now attracts a totally different cliental.

Accordingly, it could be argued that opportunities for local


businesses to succeed have declined. For example, Hassan (a
hairdresser

on

Exmouth

Market)

describes

the

struggle

for

customers due to the increased competition from the numerous


hairdressers that begun to spring up in the area:

13

Ibid PP.14 and 31


Ibid P.14
15
Butler, Tim Living in the Bubble: Gentrification and its Others in North London
Urban Studies, Vol. 40, No. 12, 24692486, November 2003 P.2470
16
Islington Gazette, Friday 11th October 1968 P.11
14

33

- Chapter Two In one sense, competition is good, but if there is more


than 10 in the trade, there is too much competition. It is
very difficult to keep the custom. Because if you do not
have time to queue for us you will go somewhere else.
Excuse my English, someone will get pissed off very
easy, cos they say how long I wait?.17

Perhaps this was after 1996 when a change to letting policy allowed
50% non-retail frontage from below 33%, which led to business,
entertainment, service and leisure industries all having a new
opportunity to invest in space on the market. 18 Before this, space
had been designated to accommodate retail businesses serving
more useful purposes. With this change, the plan of inclusive
redevelopment in 1976 was contradicted. So, the lifting of a limit on
how many types of each business there was, allowed harsher
competition and this competition has adversely affected Hassans
hair-salon.

Although at the expense of others, this lack of regulation has


been positive for some incoming businesses with more financial
might that have targeted the incoming middle classes. There was a
more flexible attitude to use of the property on Exmouth Street by
the late 90s and encouragement of Cafs, bars, restaurants and
17

Hassan the hairdresser P.2


Whitelegg, Drew From Market Stalls to Restaurant Row: the Recent
Transformation of Exmouth Market, The London Journal, Volume 27, Number 2,
November 2002 , P.81
18

34

- Chapter Two wine

bars.19

For

example,

The

chair

The

Chair

of

Urban

Regeneration of Islington Council, James Winston, talked of how


different restaurants and wine bars could help regenerate a
dilapidated area, especially in close proximity to Saddlers Wells. 20
Thus, many new businesses such as Gastro-pubs and Cafs made
use of the area, appealing to and attracting an increasingly affluent
cliental.

The success of the street as a result of more flexible property


laws resulted in rent hikes and so some local businesses being
forced out (the butcher and a fruit and veg stall, as well as one pub
and a spare parts dealer). Meanwhile, cafs and bars and/or
restaurants doubled between 1995 and 2002. 21 Indeed, Betty told
me Exmouth Market no longer exists22, emphasising its lack of
appeal to her. This perception of Exmouth market as irrelevant
reverberated throughout Raymonds interview and he declared:

If you go down Exmouth Street, its full of these fancy


restaurants and cafs, where you sit on the pavement
and have these cups of coffee and it costs you about
5 and all that nonsense.

19
20
21
22

Ibid P.84
Ibid P.84
Ibid P.87
Betty Interview P.5

35

- Chapter Two Raymond also says Exmouth market is half what it used to be and
explains how shops such as old furniture shops a bike shop
(where hed get his bike done up) and a little grocer have
disappeared as a result of redevelopment and the creation of flats
for incoming residents. The feeling of loss of relevant, local
businesses is further reinforced by Hassans interview as he tells a
tale of a family opposite his Hair Salon which moved away: The
Estrada across the road... That was a family business which was a
cafeteria restaurant you know, because he tried to open a classy
business up the road but did not have the quality food despite
very good dcor.23 This tale indicated the pressure to respond to
the changing shape of the market environment, and the increased
competition

to

family

business.

Hassan

insinuates

that

this

atmosphere has affected the whole market: It used to be a proper


market. 24 So it appears as though Exmouth Market, as a place for
social interaction, has gradually lost touch with ordinary people.

The loss of businesses of use-value and places for social


interaction which ordinary residents used is not confined to
Exmouth market. Betty Foley lived in Angel and described the
change in the nature of spaces for interaction: Theres no pubs. All
the pubs have gone! Along the Upper Street, all it is, is
restaurants; furthermore, she explains the loss of shops, we used
to have shops on Upper Street, different types of shops. Betty says
23
24

Hassan the hairdresser P.2


Hassan the hairdresser P.1

36

- Chapter Two Camden Passage also had loads of little antiques shops and now
its a bit up market.25 Russell Craig agrees that there were good
local shops on Upper Street, and explains that it had a very
community atmosphere and describes how the last shop that was
there in 1983 has gone, not one place is the same, as shops have
either turned into 99p shops, Tesco Metros or estate agents. 26
Though this sense of loss may have been made worse by an
element of nostalgia and reverse-imaging 27; these descriptions of
useful public spaces and service-industry amenities being lost to
ones that provide for the more affluent has coincided with concrete
changes and is thus indicative of a change in prioritisation from
inclusive change in regeneration, to favouring aesthetic change
through encouraging superior private investors. Thus, some
businesses have thrived with the changes, while many local
businesses (of greater use value to working class residents) have
been forced out.

Similarly, Peter Fabbri describes The Emirates Stadium as a


place where access is only allowed to those who can afford the
tickets he considers too expensive where in his younger days a
ticket was 6 bob (shillings). 28 Football as a commodity is a good
example of how a lack of regulation in terms of ticket prices has
allowed positive aesthetical change as a new stadium has been
25
26
27
28

Betty Interview P.3


Russell Craig interview P.1
Abram, Lyn., The Myths we Live by Glossary
Peter Fabbri P.6

37

- Chapter Two built, but while the success of football as a cultural attraction owes a
lot to the working class it has been made unavailable to them.

These losses were often depicted as related to the increase in


businesses targeting more affluent users as well as the increase in
Supermarkets. Hassan blames factories for why local businesses
are failing. Similarly, mass production of big supermarkets (made
possible by factories) and its negative impact on local business is
spoken about by 4 of the other interviewees.29 Russell Craig
subscribes to a middle class discourse of Waitrose as a good place
to shop with good-quality, trustworthy produces now Im very much
a Waitrose shopper; insinuating that the bad quality economy food
in supermarkets only affects those with financial disadvantages. 30
(Supermarkets and business monopolies relation to the change
must not go unmissed and gentrification must not be entirely
blamed for these changes; Andrew Simms explains supermarkets
impact on the economy well in his book Tescopoly).31 Simms
explains

that,

planning

decisions

often

work

in

favour

of

supermarkets despite the fact that in terms of use value (healthy


eating) cheaper supermarkets are failing (citing National consumer
council 2006) as many economy range foods contain more salt, fat
and sugar than their standard equivalents: supermarket methods
can be detrimental to the way those with a lower income eat. 32 This
29

Raymond Whatley P.5 Iceland, Waitrose and all these, Marks and Spencers
Russell Craig P.1 and P.6
31
Simms, Andrew., Tescopoly, How one shop came out on top and why it matters.
(London 2007)
32
Ibid P.9
30

38

- Chapter Two culture of poverty33 is tied in to political decision; until 1964, price
maintenance existed. Price maintenance protected small shops by
preventing larger stores, with greater economies of scale, from
discounting many goods. By 1997 there were 1,102 superstores in
England as opposed to 457 in 1986. 34 Their market share over
groceries shot up to 30% with this change. So in other words: as
markets provide less affordable food, supermarkets (partly built on
the ideal of healthy eating) that seem detrimental to working class
health have progressed.35 So the changes that affected my
interviewees

both

relate

to

lack

of

regulation

regarding

competition against those who provide the community with usevalue goods and affordable cultural amenities. This contributed to
some market places alienating marginalised people from using
them.
So, critiques of revitalisation seem to have been supported
by this analysis. Though there is always the possibility of other
factors influencing the positivity in which the past is described, the
historical authenticity of the testimonies regarding public space
seems to be accurate. The affluent moving in to Islington means
the production of space progressively for their use. This change is
also bound up in a general switch to large-scale shopping. 36 The
aesthetic appeal is specific to the incoming young professionals.
Markets during revitalisation often in reality serve as a cultural
33
34
35
36

Ibid
Ibid
Ibid
Ibid

P.72
P.72
P.36
P.77

39

- Chapter Two attraction rather than providing what appeals to ordinary people. 37
Thus, though markets can ideally offer a space of integration and
diversity and although regeneration often intends to provide this,
the reality is often redeveloped market places are often only
available to those who can afford it. For example (as Whitelegg says
of Exmouth market) table football at expensive caf Kick is there
for those with funds, while the glaring reality of a lack of a youth
club for locals remains.38 While similarly, Upper Street seems to
have become increasingly exclusive.39 The reality then, is that to
commodify space of consumption degrades opportunities for real
social interaction.40 This is what has occurred in several public
spaces in Islington, denying the ideology of revitalisation as being
beneficial for all.

37

Ibid P.84
Ibid P.89
39
Butler, Tim Living in the Bubble: Gentrification and its Others in North London
Urban Studies, Vol. 40, No. 12, 24692486, November 2003 P.2476
40
Watson, Sophie and Studdert, David., Markets As Sites for Social Interaction:
Spaces of Diversity (Bristol 2006) P.1
38

40

- Chapter Two -

41

- Chapter Two -

42

- Chapter Three -

Chapter Three: Did Revitalisation Provide Social


Integration?
Some people see gentrification as an inevitable process and a
way in which impoverished areas can be improved and mono
cultures of race and class can be dissolved. 1 Nonetheless, one social
theorist suggested in reality the middle classes often move past
other cultures (like tectonic plates) and would have almost
nothing to do with them.2 Of course generalisations about the
incoming middle class are dangerous as gentrifiers identities are
multiple and their ambivalent political theorising often contradicts
assumptions about the group. 3 Still, it is necessary to critique the
idea Andres Duany holds that: Gentrification rebalances the
concentration of poverty.4 This dissertation will now seek to debate
such suppositions about the middle class impact. This chapter, in
contrast to the first two which focused more on economic and
material inequalities, will focus on social divisions and will contend
that although a middle class presence is encouraged under the ideal
of integration; middle class presence in a working class, multi-ethnic
area is not the same as integration. Integration requires social
responsibility rather than property and business investment alone.
Of course my research only allows me an insight in to 6 peoples
1

Laurie Taylor BBC Radio 4


Ibid
3
The Eviction of critical perspectives from Gentrification Research (Tom Slater)
P.7
4
The Eviction of critical perspectives from Gentrification Research (Tom Slater)
P.5 Tom Slater cites Andres Duany - Three cheers for gentrification (2001:36)
2

43

- Chapter Three experiences of social life and only limited conclusions can be made
from this.

Often social divisions and inequalities are encouraged from an


early age. The idea that youth finds its experiences and
opportunities differentiated by gender, geography, social and ethnic
background is a convincing one when examining the interviews. 5
Cauline Braithwaite tells stories which may be seen as symbolic of
the idea that social barriers can affect a youths opportunities:

And when I went to Hackney Free I was in the middle


stream, and I kept coming first in class, um.. and so when it
got to GCSEs or about to, my mum went in and said. she
keeps coming first you should have put her up There
were no black people in the top set I think that was
racism actually.6

I remember one day doing that, (dance lessons) and I really


loved it because I loved dancing, but one day I noticed that
every time we were kinda doing something where we had to
hold hands, afterwards all the kids were wiping their
hands

Ed. By Chisholm, Lynne et al. Childhood, Youth and Social Change: A


Comparative Perspective P.44
6
Cauline Braithwaite interview PP.1-2

44

- Chapter Three This (although not this alone) created a reaction where Cauline (to
stand up for herself) became a fighter and got involved in black
politics.7 Cauline was made to feel different; this lack of social
inclusion, both institutionally and in social life at school was
something that prompted a reaction, but it does not seem as though
Cauline strived in the first place to distinguish herself as other.
Similarly, social expectations affected Betty who talks of her lack of
work in the 1960s like so: cos you didnt (work) in those days (as a
woman).8 Further Peter and Raymond have casually depicted how
they entered work straight from school rather than entering higher
education. Perhaps this casual depiction can be put down to the lack
of expectation the school had of working class males rubbing off on
their outlook of their prospects. 9 Thus the interviews to some extent
confirm that institutions held suppositions and highlight the
consequent social barriers this causes.

study

of

Caulines

interview

highlights

the

potentially

detrimental effect of such social and institutional discrimination.


Autonomous political groups representing unrest about racial
inequality mobilised many in Inner London during the 1970s. 10 It
seems as though this may be put down to the marginalisation of
ethnic minority groups by institutions of power and in social life.
7

Cauline Braithwaite interview P.2 and P.5


Betty Foley interview P.1
9
Raymond Whatley P.2 and Peter Fabbri P.3
10
Brunce, R.E.R.: Obi B. Egbuna, C.L.R. James and the Birth of Black Power in
Britain: Black Radicalism in Britain 1967-1972 Twentieth Century British History,
Vol.22, No.3, 2011, PP.391-414
8

45

- Chapter Three West Indian, Pakistani and Indian migration increased rapidly
between the 1950s and 1971; synonymously overemployment (the
cause of the original encouragement of West-Indian migration)
turned to underemployment; this led to social unease and political
agitation for immigrations control.11 Indeed the concept of a takeover by other, coloured immigrants was portrayed as a threat to
British society in some of the media. For example, muggings were
considered black crimes and were part of a media scare about black
culture, and the coverage of the phenomenon reflected some of
the general publics assumptions.12 As put by Stuart Hall blacks
become the bearers, the signifiers of the crisis of British society in
the 1970s Consequently; many in the 1970s saw the sending
away of those of another race as a way to solve societal
problems.13 It appears as though non-white people were subjected
to a hostile reception by many in Inner London; the following
paragraphs would like to explore whether this has changed with the
influx of commendable middle-classes to Islington.

It has been argued that, despite there being persistent


problems of institutional racism and media stereotypes (which
reflect continuing public perceptions of race), the second black
generation is more integrated than the first, and according to the
grassroots black newspaper The Voice in 1997 40% of (black)
11

Ed. By Owusu, Kwesi., Black British Culture & Society; A Text Reader (London
Routledge 2000)Henry Louis Gates JR A Reporter at Large: Black London P.171
12
Find reference for pictures
13
Ed. By Owusu, Kwesi., Black British Culture & Society; A Text Reader (London
Routledge 2000) Intro P.4

46

- Chapter Three males have a relationship with a white woman. 14

Furthermore,

Cauline explains how she went to live with some of the incoming
middle-classes in the 70s, when unemployed: if youve got
nowhere to stay you can stay at mine the woman (a teacher)
said.15 Thus, it could be argued that some of the incoming middleclass and the ever-present white working class residents in Islington
have integrated with people in the area considered by some as
different and threatening in the 1970s. Thus, although stereotypes
remain, the interview with Cauline includes an important reminder;
some of the incoming middle classes have attempted to integrate
and divisions between races are by no means concrete.

Nonetheless, even where people made political efforts for


change in the 1970s Cauline maintains that there was some
political factionalism; for example middle class feminists could
be disrespectful about women with children. 16 Cauline goes on to
explain that sexism and racism also existed in political circles and
that even where some politicos spouted theory they did not live
up to in personal relationships.17

The difference between the liberal theory of integration and


the reality of continued divisions is explained in Tim Butlers article:
14

Ed. By Owusu, Kwesi., Black British Culture & Society; A Text Reader (London
Routledge 2000) Henry Louis Gates JR A Reporter at Large: Black London (1997)
P.176
15
Cauline Interview P.5
16
Cauline interview P.7
17
Ibid P.7-8

47

- Chapter Three Living in the Bubble: Gentrification and its Others in North London.
He explains the educational strategies of the incoming middle
classes involved sending their children to schools outside of the
borough or of a private nature. 18 (This lack of integration applies to
class too. Raymond and Peter spoke about their immediate entry
from school to work as if college was not even considered,
insinuating that they were never expected to go to higher education
as working class men). He concludes that the middle class and their
children inhabit entirely different spaces from the other; In a city
which is massively multi-ethnic, its middle classes group together. 19
One of Tim Butlers interviewees (a middle class incomer to
Barnsbury) said: my kid wont go out of fear of local gangs; we
have to collect our son from wherever he is here, a discourse of
fear of a class considered separate and threatening to theirs is
evident thus bringing into doubt the idea that the incoming middle
classes were totally in favour of integration. 20 Another respondent
to Tim Butler said: This end of the street was much more colourful
and mixed when I first came we even had a brothel! 21 Thus, the
idea of moving to a diverse area was perhaps seen as an edgy
attraction to some: an exciting social wallpaper as it were. The
stereotyped crime-ridden lives of these other cultures appear to
some to have been a cultural attraction to view out of the window of

18

Butler, Tim Living in the Bubble: Gentrification and its Others in North London
Urban Studies, Vol. 40, No. 12, 24692486, November 2003 P.2469
19
Ibid P.2469-2484
20
Ibid P.2479
21
Ibid P.2480

48

- Chapter Three a middle class house.22 Although the liberal middle class idea of
diversity is used a lot in reference to Inner London, the reality is that
real social relationships do not appear to have got a lot more
integrated with the middle class incomers.
There appear to have been changes in terms of race relations
since the 70s. Divisions and stereotypes still exist however, for
example as Ambalavaner Sivanandan explains: a black intellectual is
considered un-black, but in his race is considered not-white. 23 With
black sports stars entertaining at club and national level in Britain,
there has been some praise for them in the media. There is,
however, now a worry about the education of black youth today
pushing them towards sport due to presumptions about innate
physical ability and intellectual interest being determined by race.
Indeed, as Cauline says: theres this narrative that black people
arent that fussed about education and they (academics) love to
write about you know, black youth and gangs... 24 In one sense the
media praise the success of black individuals in certain cultures
such as sports; but stereotyping often still exists in these
representations. These factors reflect popular notions of black
culture and reinforce them. Caulines interview echoes this idea;

Have you heard of the writer called Dreda Say Mitchell?


Shes a black woman, she writes thrillers, and shes in
22

Ibid P.2471-P2476
Ed. By Owusu, Kwesi., Black British Culture & Society; A Text Reader (London
Routledge 2000) The Liberation of the Black Intellectual A. Sivanandan P.70
24
Cauline interview P.8
23

49

- Chapter Three East London Shes a really well known thriller writer.
And she says that she was at school and she was doing
really well, at javelin or something and you know she
was told you really could go far and she was really pushed
to be professional and then she suddenly realised that
only the black girls were being pushed for sport and she
didnt even discuss it, she dropped it and she did her Alevels and she went on to go to LSE.25

Here, Cauline reflects on what is perhaps a popular story in her


political cultural circuit (where personal memories of events and
experiences draw upon public constructions of the past and in turn
the popular accounts draw on memories of individuals). 26 The quote
suggests that although individuals (Dreda Say Mitchell in this case)
have had the charisma to challenge presumptions about their
intellectual ability, societal and institutional assumptions about
black culture may have impaired the intellectual education of black
youth in schools. Cauline explains that she believes this idea still
holds black people back to an extent today; There are ideas that
there are things that we are not interested in and cant do. 27 The
idea of an all-encompassing black culture thus had and still has the
potential to be a barrier to black people with certain interests.
Furthermore, Cauline explains new immigrants still receive some

25
26
27

Cauline interview P.11


Abrams, Lyn Oral History Theory (London 2010) Glossary
Cauline interview p.13

50

- Chapter Three bad treatment on street level; an 8 month pregnant woman in a


hijab was beaten up for wearing her religious clothes this
decade.28 Middle class influence on racial divisions and stereotypes
and their attempts to deconstruct difference and integrate, thus,
must not be overstated. The state education system was perhaps
underfunded and affected by racial and class prejudice. While, many
of the middle-class incomers submitted to middle-class conceptions
of class consciousness and of schooling.

So, although Richard Florida argues that economic growth is


driven by increased concentrations of educated people, this
appears quite untrue through the lens of the more marginalised.
Florida puts forward the idea that through tolerance and efforts to
envelop the changes with diversity the region can be improved for
everybody.29 The vision of the redevelopment of Exmouth market for
example always suggested, it was growing, keeping and creating an
urban mix and going some way to deconstructing difference. 30
Nonetheless case study examples suggest otherwise. Examine the
Almeida Theatre; the redevelopment of the theatre since the 70s
played a substantial role in the areas resurgence. Rusell Craig a
theatre-director talks about his support of the Almeida:

28

Cauline interview P.13


Florida, Richard The Rise of the Creative Class Review by Ted Naylor Canadian
Public Policy, Analyse De Politiques, Vol.29 No.3 (Sep 2003) PP.378-379
30
From Market Stalls to Restaurant Row (Drew Whitelegg) P.89
29

51

- Chapter Three The Almeida started which was just round the corner
from there. I was a bit involved in that

Do you think that thats partly the reason why, you


know, Finsbury and Islington have got so smart and
expensive?

That might be because of the Almeida

So it is true that culture did help Russell and reciprocally Russell


helped revitalise the theatre. Nonetheless, it has been said that the
real consequence of this revitalisation in Islington did not do much
to counter specific problems of poverty, housing, unemployment
and education.31 The problem with the idea of bolstering the citys
image is that it is often given more importance than grassroots of
local communities.32 Indeed, Peter, Raymond and Betty (like Cauline)
counter the idea that tolerance and inclusivity has been prevalent
during the revitalisation of the area through (private) investment in
cultural amenities. The one change in the area that is praised by
Betty is of a more public nature on Sheringham Road (Holloway);
Betty says:

Well, take this park across the road for instance, in


the 70s, that used to be all little streets, with little
31
32

Ibid P.89
Sharon Zukin P.2

52

- Chapter Three houses they knocked them all down and we got a
park. That wasnt such a bad thing because they were
old houses, and in the 70s, we only had one park in
Islington and that was Highbury fields
Anyway they made that in to a park and its one of the
best things they did with the old houses. You got a
football pitch over there, you got a play area for
children, youve got Martin Luther King place over
there, and you know its like a club for children.

33

Betty describes how the children on the local estate access the
park; the Martin Luther King adventure playground and a football
pitch which were made available by the council. Thus the
improvements that according to Betty, in reality, changed the lives
of local people had nothing to do with attracting private investors
with greater educational capacity. Similarly, Peter Fabbri describes a
lack of understanding and passion in terms of meeting the needs of
local communities from the incoming middle class private tenants:

I mean when the Olympics started, about a month


before that me and a lady across the road we
organised a barbeque for everyone N then nothing
ever happened with it, they thought it was all down to
the (tenants) committee, and I thought come on you
33

Betty Interview P.7

53

- Chapter Three gotta get your hands dirty, you gotta go out and do
some work.34

As this statement about a lack of work from some private tenants


regarding a barbeque for the estate suggests; incoming middle
class have to do more than just invest economically in an area.
Without getting their hands dirty they cannot integrate. 35 Thus, the
idea that educated people automatically improve the area for
everyone appears faulty. The lives of ordinary people are often
improved when more industrious attempts are made to get involved
and there is more understanding of people who have lived in the
harsh conditions they are trying to tackle. Private investment is not
suggested, by any of the working class interviewees, to have
improved life for ordinary people or increased their integration in to
wider society. Of course, these are only four voices from a whole
borough and many middle-classes may have integrated socially and
private industries may have opened up some working class jobs.
What these interviews do suggest though is that an increased
presence of middle classes without effort does not necessarily mean
integration. Private investment is not an effort to improve society
and integrate. Too much stress on the issue of those with a more
middle-class education improving an area by their presence alone
by people like Richard Florida and Andres Duany appears wrong.

34
35

Peter Fabbri interview P.8


Ibid P.8

54

- Chapter Three Thus, the idea of gentrifiers being commended for meeting
the other certainly overstates the overall impact of the influx of
middle classes since the 1970s. Though some attempts may have
been made at integration, the concept of a larger concentration of
educated people in an area being directly related to integration is
flawed. The reality is that this often means increasing investment in
amenities relating to middle class lifestyles and increased social
polarisation in the locale. Class and racial divisions have remained
to a large extent; schooling has largely remained segregated
between classes and the real, concrete questions of local needs
have largely remained unanswered by the incoming private
investors. Where social progression since the 70s has been praised
by my interviewees, there have been concerted efforts to inclusively
improve things for the public; this has required an understanding of
the local population which does not come from simply privately
investing in an area.

55

- Chapter Three -

56

- Conclusion -

Conclusion
In conclusion, the idea that gentrification is a sign of healthy
economic growth for future cities across the globe appears false.
1

My research has shown that houses may have improved in

condition as a result of gentrification of the 70s, but that this has


been at the expense of those renting cheap accommodation and has
threatened

council

tenants

interests

in

their

own

estates.

Furthermore, despite the narrative of regeneration of market places


and cultural amenities as being beneficial for all, public space
appears to have in fact become more exclusive and difficult to
access for local residents as a result of the incoming middle classes.
Finally, the ideals of integration and diversity are overstated in
regards to revitalisation. In truth it appears that the introduction of
middle classes with superior tastes and better-education has done
little to improve the lives of ordinary people. Working class interests
can be improved through concerted attempts to understand local
needs (such as by building a public park in Holloway); middle class
can indeed help with this but need to show a real effort to
understand and act upon these needs. It appears that in 1970s
Islington many of the incoming middle-classes did not make this
effort

and,

encouraged

diversification

and

by

the

council

redevelopment,

under

instead

the
made

ideal

of

private

Slater, Tom. The Eviction of Critical Perspectives from Gentrification Research.,


International Journal of Urban and Regional Research Volume 30, Issue 4, pages
737757, December 2006 P.2

57

- Conclusion investments in the area. These investments were more to the


detriment of working class social and economic lives.

Though the interviews helped me come to this conclusion,


they have also provided me with a nuanced understanding of the
impact of gentrification on my subjects. Forms of resistance to
divisions which already existed and the divisions that opened up due
to gentrification were identified via help from my interviewees. For
example, the Tenant Manager Organisation on Spa Green Estate has
allowed council-tenants a voice and a space to push for their own
interests to be recognised despite an increasing middle-class
presence (these Tenant Management Organisations have been a
means of resistance on other council estates too). 2 Furthermore,
Cauline (despite overall confirming that there are still problems with
racism in Islington) had an involvement in black politics and
interactions with some middle class incomers; this provides a good
counter argument to the perception of a concrete nature to racial
divisions. Moreover, Bettys praise of a public space opened up in
the 1970s for kids on the local estate is evidence of the potential
for positive and inclusive regeneration. It appears that, the narrative
of gentrification (as displacing all of those less-well-off) and the
narrative of regeneration and increased presence of individuals
with cultural capital being good for the local area are both
confused. The gentrification narrative neglects the strength of
2

Appendix 3

58

- Conclusion working class and ethnic minority resistance in the face of hard
times; while regeneration puts too much emphasis on the aesthetic
changes made by private investment, neglecting the reality of
increased exclusivity of public space.

This dissertation has highlighted the limits of oral history


throughout, the potentially misleading impact of nostalgia and
subscriptions to certain discourses and cultural circuits as well as
the limiting factor of people wanting to compose a correct image of
their self. Despite this, the nuanced understanding offered by this
method appears to be worth it. This is only from 6 interviews too,
which highlights the fact that reading a narrative of a British history
of the 1970s for example can tell us only a limited amount. This
dissertation, amongst its other conclusions on gentrification and
regeneration, also suggests the need for more local studies and
more attempts to understand the people who lived the past that we
as academics often discuss in a sweeping fashion.

59

- Appendix Appendix 1.
Russell Craig 1976-1977 Upper Street House Cost, Self-employment
records

- Appendix Source: Russell Craig interview

- Appendix -

Appendix 2.

Tenant
Management Organisations
statistics/Pages/1439.aspx>

in

Islington

2013-04-10

Source:

<http://www.islington.gov.uk/islington/maps-

- Appendix -

Appendix 3 PP: 4,5,6,7 and 9,10 of Clerkenwell Planning Committee, Non-Confidential Report 1976, Agenda Item
P(a)2

- Appendix -

- Appendix -

Source: Finsbury Library Local History Centre

- Appendix Appendix 4 : Sunday Times 24/05/1992

Source: Finsbury Local History Centre

- Appendix -