Recording Somers Town
Documents of change
Somers Town has been recorded more than most places – in surveys and maps by reformers, to point out the perils of alcohol, or the correlation of density and crime, and now in consultations for developments.
Basil Jellicoe and the St Pancras House Improvement Society were innovators in using film to raise funds. They showed bleak slum life with lurid depictions of vermin and bed bugs. Their films showcased their achievements and they published a illustrated magazine: Housing Happenings.
Later in the twentieth century, interest in the reformer and radical histories led to more recording. In the 1970s, the History Workshop created oral histories of working class lives. In the 1980s, Sue Crockford, a youth worker, made a film Somers Town about the St Pancras housing project, the ‘creation of a new Jerusalem’, with its rooftop nursery, community clubs and summer trips.
Many private photographs, cine films and videos exist, of family celebrations and in the various parties, beanos, from Jubilees to street festivals. Record covers and photo shoots in squats give glimpses of the 1980s. Mike Leigh, who lived on Cranleigh St for over ten years, reflected working class lives. Somers Town, the 2008 film by Shane Meadows tell of change.
The purpose of this museum is to continue to reflect and record change in Somers Town.