Local school children from Hill Mead Primary and Evelyn Grace Academy took part in a project to learn about and connect with their local heritage, concentrating on Brixton Market and Electric Avenue. Reporters Linda Quinn and Colette Webber visited the exhibition at Evelyn Grace .
The children in Year 5 at Hill Mead created information boxes on a wide variety of themes. Year 7 at Evelyn Grace Academy produced a ‘street’ of themed boards. The work of both schools introduces viewers to the many aspects of the town centre, especially Electric Avenue, which they learned about in workshops run by the educational charity Our Hut. The plaque to commemorate the 1999 Brixton nail bomb attack drew the response from one year 7 student, Nii: “I made a stop hate crime building” (see below) “it’s because of the bomb they put there, but these people are together”
Workshops included visits to the market, learning about Brixton’s past and thinking about improvements that could be made. When asked about Brixton one student Tenisha said “I don’t like the smell…but I like the clothes, the buildings, and the food!”
Our Hut, is an organisation that uses architecture to teach young people about the world around them, linking all areas of the curriculum, developing analysis, design and creative skills. It says: “The great thing about architecture as a teaching resource is that everyone, no matter how old they are or where they live, knows something about it. From the youngest schoolchild everyone has opinions about buildings.”
Suzanna Prizeman from Our Hut said: “We started by finding out what the students knew, we looked at photos from the Lambeth archive and discussed what they liked and didn’t like. We broke up into groups who looked at different aspects – windows, floor finishes, decorations and improvements.
Year 7 wrote about the project for their art homework.
“Electric Avenue has many different good aspects. One of them is the variety of shops and what they sell. It is a very good environment and has all kinds of architecture with different sophisticated and pretty designs from the top of the building down to the floor level.” Diana
“There was a big ship called Windrush that stopped off at Jamaica and picked up 492 migrants from the West Indies. Many came to live in Brixton and often shopped at markets in an near Electric Avenue.” Sumaya
There was a real sense of appreciation for the local area and its rich cultural heritage at the Evelyn Grace Academy exhibition, summed up well by student Tariq’s final comment on why he loves Brixton “well its lots of different cultures, not just one culture”.
The creative heritage workshops run by Our Hut will run again in 2018 post the regeneration of Electric Avenue. The project is part of a wider regeneration project, The Brixton Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) and is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The aim is to preserve and enhance the unique architecture and historic character of Electric Avenue, while stimulating economic regeneration and raising knowledge of, awareness of and participation in local heritage.
As well as providing grants for building repairs and restoration, the THI includes a programme of community initiatives. The Our Hut workshops with Hill Mead and Evelyn Grace are part of that programme.