diamond geezer

 Friday, December 14, 2012

Last night I walked to the other end of Bow Road, ladled myself a cup of mulled wine and watched Danny Boyle illuminate a giant red ribbon. My Thursday evenings aren't usually like that.

This is the former St Clement's Hospital, which looms over Bow Road like some Victorian haunted house. It started life in 1849 as the City of London Union Workhouse, before being converted into an infirmary where mental patients came for examination and assessment. 100 years ago it became a hospice for the chronically ill, the Bow Institution, with beds for more than 750 patients. By 1959 it had changed its purpose once again, becoming a psychiatric hospital, and so it stayed until 2005 when the local NHS Trust closed the place down. Since then the buildings have been boarded up and sealed off, awaiting demolition or transformation into flats. Normally this would mean a commercial development with an inadequate proportion of affordable housing, but St Clement's is going to be very different, and East London will be all the better for it.

These four and a half acres are to be the site of London's very first Community Land Trust. Bought up by the community, for the community, and 100% affordable. Some of the old buildings will be reused, others will be knocked down, and a mixture of flats and family-sized homes fitted into the rectangular site. From Bow Road all the way down to the Tower Hamlets Cemetery, the Trust will ensure that properties are bought and sold at below market price. The local community have been involved in planning what goes where, with a series of workshops at the start of the month attended by 350 people. Impressively these have already borne fruit, and the outcomes were presented (with videos and slides) at a public meeting last night. [some details]

How wonderful that this new housing stock will be used by ordinary folk rather than being the sole preserve of bankers and buy-to-let investors. To celebrate, they invited a local millionaire round to switch on the lights. Danny Boyle lives less than quarter of a mile away, in one of the gorgeous Georgian streets off the Mile End Road. Previous to that he lived up a tower block directly overlooking the hospital site - he told us so - and how exciting to discover that 2012's Man of The Year is an E3 resident. Danny stood on the makeshift stage and offered his support, praising all the good work that's been done so far and hoping for great things to come.

We stood and smiled and listened, well-wrapped in our woolly hats and scarves. Most of us had a plastic beaker of mulled wine in our hands, although that had nearly run out because so many people had turned up. The miniature very-mincey mince pies were disappearing fast too, served up from a table strewn with wintry evergreens. It's hard to imagine a commercial housing developer going to such an effort, but such is the attention to detail a group of community-focused East Londoners can muster. Three, two, one, Danny pressed the button which illuminated a 15ft red ribbon on the front of the hospital. A bow in Bow, how clever. It was a striking sight, and caused many a passer-by to turn and stare and wonder why this dead building had suddenly awoken. [video]

The first meeting of the St Clement's Community Forum will be held at 7pm on Thursday 17 January at Bow Road Methodist Church, and everyone is welcome. Work on the vision for the Community Land Trust will continue, and a planning application is due to be submitted next spring. This won't be the usual bland overpriced matchbox development, it'll have a conscience and a heart. With values similar to those in Danny's Olympic Opening Ceremony, St Clement's is a development of which London can be properly proud.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this month?
28 Jan – 23 Apr (10am-4.30pm)
Sussex Modernism
The sixth annual exhibition at Two Temple Place focuses on radical art/writing in Sussex, and is damned excellent.

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Feb17  Jan17
Dec16 Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards