UK Government

Tower Hamlets, London Borough of: Find out about the rich history of Tower Hamlets

Press Release   •   Sep 27, 2010 10:26 BST

Photograph attached:  An example of social housing in Tower Hamlets - The Cranbrook Estate designed during the late 1960s.

Tower Hamlets’ social housing will come under the spotlight in a series of exciting events exploring the borough’s heritage and culture as part of a Londonwide festival organised by the Mayor of London.

The Story of London celebrates the capital both as a place of heritage and as a cutting-edge city of change and new ideas.

The borough has been witness to the pioneering development of social housing with the creation of the Boundary Estate – one of the country’s first social housing schemes.

As part of the festival, running from October 1-10, the Council’s Local History Library & Archives in Bancroft Road, Mile End, will be holding four free events focusing on the history of social housing.

The project has been made possible by a grant of just under £10,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The events will include; two guided walks on selected estates in October 5 and 9, a talk and debate on the history of social housing with Guardian journalist Lynsey Hanley, CEO of Tower Hamlets Community Housing Mike Tyrrell and Marcel Baettig from Bow Arts Trust on October 4 at 6pm and the premiere of documentary 14th Floor at Rochelle School in Arnold Circus on October 7.

14th Floor is a film by Shane Davey charting the development of social housing in the East End using rarely seen imagery from the archive collections and interviews with former and current residents, architects, artists and historians.

Shane who lives in Poplar explained: “The unique context provided by the extreme deprivation and slum clearances of the 19th century and the postwar reconstruction of the Blitz-damaged borough provided fertile ground for experimentation in addressing key issues of poverty and regeneration.

But how did this affect the lives of local people and families, whose homes were lost, made and re-made?”

Earlier this year Shane won the 28 Day Feature Film Challenge: Best Film Award with The Horror of the Dolls, a chilling movie set in Poplar's Balfron Tower.

14th Floor will have its premiere at Rochelle School (the former school which served the first Old Nichol slum and later the Boundary Estate and is now a converted gallery) at 6.30pm.

For more details visit To book a place on any of the events contact Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives on 020 7364 1290 or email

For more about the Story of London visit


Notes to editors


Journalist and photographers are invited to attend the film premiere of 14th Floor at Rochelle School, Arnold Circus, E2 on Thursday 7th October at 6.30pm.


There will be an opportunity to interview filmmaker Shane Davey. To book an interview call Shalina Hussain on 020 7364 4393 or email

Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives preserves and provides public access to unique collections reflecting the history of the borough and the diverse communities that have lived here. 

It holds an extensive range of local history publications and pamphlets, maps and plans, archives and minutes evidencing the borough's administration, oral histories and audio-visual materials as well as over 30,000 photographs. 

Based in the Grade 2 listed Bancroft Library, the building is currently undergoing construction works to support its redevelopment as a heritage centre for the East End. To find out more call 020 7364 1290 or email

Bow Arts Trust was established as an Arts and Educational social enterprise and charity in 1995 by Marcel Baettig.

The Trust provides a range of affordable support services for artists whilst also creating access to the arts through a comprehensive education project and contemporary art gallery the Nunnery. 

Bow Arts Trust provides over 200 affordable studios for artists and over 70 Live Work / Work Live units for artists across East London.  To find out more visit

For more details contact:
Shalina Hussain
Tower Hamlets Council
Mulberry Place
6th Floor
5 Clove Crescent
E14 2BG

Tel: 020 7364 4754



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