Case study: Dagenham

Dagenham forms part of London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. The area remained mostly undeveloped until 1921 when the London County Council began construction of the large Becontree estate. Significantly, in 1924 planning of the Ford Dagenham plant began. As a result the population of the area significantly increased during the 20th century, with the parish of Dagenham becoming an urban district in 1926 and a municipal borough in 1938. Notoriously known as Dagenham’s ‘heyday’ (Asthana, 2010), Ford Motors was significantly important for the culture and community of the area. The area was thriving in this industrial boom and at its peak in the 1950’s it employed more than 40,000. “Through seven decades, the Dagenham workers produced about 11 million vehicles and turned a corner of east London into a showpiece of British industrial culture” (Asthana, 2010).

But now, it is estimated to only employ a total of 4,000 workers (Zino, 2009) which has had a huge impact on the area culturally and economically. An expert in the transformation of the area Ian Vickers stated “the loss of manufacturing has hit hard and that was followed by the loss of some of  the borough’s focal points. The two working men’s clubs have both gone; the cinema closed; a vast number of pubs have closed or been demolished. Not many years ago the town had a number of long-established businesses and shops; these have also shut up, many replaced by fast food outlets, pawnbrokers and pound stores. The town has altered beyond recognition, both in its populace and its fabric. The borough in the 1991 census was 96% white British, in 2001 this had dropped to 81%. In a 2005 estimate, this was given as 73%, which extrapolated to 2010 is just around 65%. The white British have been replaced with a large influx of chiefly African and some Eastern European migrants. Most people who lived around the actual town centre in 1991 have ‘escaped’, as they see it, further out into Essex, Kent, Norfolk and Suffolk, and some even abroad.” (Asthana, 2010) He concluded by stating “there is much hardship here, too.”

Evidently, Dagenham has witnessed major cultural and demographic changes showing that the area is constantly evolving through time. To categorically define Dagenham would be impossible, but through discourse it is evident that the area is diverse in ethnicity and for a period of time it was the “heartland” of the British industrial industry.

Reference List
Asthana, A. (2010). Dagenham’s heyday: ‘It was all just one big happy family then’. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/mar/21/dagenham-barking-ford-industrial-history (Accessed: 24 March 2015).

Zino, K. (2009). Milestones: Ford Dagenham Estate Celebrates 80 Years of Manufacturing. Available at: http://www.thedetroitbureau.com/2009/05/milestones-ford-dagenham-estate-celebrates-80-years-of-manufacturing/ (Accessed: 24 March 2015).

Post by: Georgina Miles

Case study: Dagenham

Breakfast at Pellicci’s

When walking the streets of London one thing has become apparent to me, how filled coffee shops/cafes are. “After more than a decade of rapid growth, the UK branded coffee shop market is defying all previous expectations as coffee wins the hearts and wallets of many British consumers. There appears to be no end to the trend to café culture which began more than a decade ago, with coffee achieving a current growth rate 7 to 8 times that of the British economy” (UK coffee: market grows and to grow strongly, 2013). Large named brands such as Starbucks, Costa Coffee are seeing continuous growth but also good artisan independent institutions are thriving in this café culture boom. Andy Harrison, chief executive of Whitbread, believes “coffee shops have now filled a hole in British society that would previously have been met by pubs” (Thomas, N, 2014). So why are people gravitating to this space?

Café’s and coffee shops are notoriously perceived as being social venues where people can gather with friends and family, or even integrate by chance with a stranger with a warm smile and chat for hours. They are also places where people can go to relax and work independently and for some people they provide a familiar habitat where they feel safe. The idea of familiarity is supported by De Certeau  (Harvey, 1991, p. 214) that believed “symbolic orderings of space ad time give profounder continuity”. Furthermore, De Certeau (Harvey, 1991, p. 214) defined a basis for understanding the ferment of popular, localized street culture by saying that the “resurgence of “popular”” practices cannot be confined to the past but “exist at the heart of the contemporary economy”. He then continued to state that they “provide a framework for experience through which we learn who or what we are in society”. The video below is a short film made by Amar Patel that tells the story of one of London’s most cherished café’s called Pellicci, on Bethnal Green Rd. It’s a bustling banter-charged hub, an East End institution and, above all, a family affair.

As De Certeau believes and what the video shows is that certain social spaces that enable daily routines give people structure and provides people with experiences and interactions that shape us. In particular with the video, it is evident that Pellicci’s provides a space where varying cultures of the East London (In which we have discovered that there are many) can come together and form a multicultural community. A place where everyone is valued, everyone converses with each other and everyone feels safe.

Reference List
UK coffee: market grows and to grow strongly (2013) Available at: http://www.hospitalityandcateringnews.com/2013/01/uk-coffee-market-grows-and-to-grow-strongly/ (Accessed: 13 March 2015). Thomas, N. (2014).

Why coffee shops are replacing pubs in Britain. URL: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/leisure/11084328/Why-coffee-shops-are-replacing-pubs-in-Britain.html. Accessed: 13 March 2015.

Harvey, D. (1991) The Condition of Postmodernity. United States: Wiley – Blackwell.

Post by: Georgina Miles

Breakfast at Pellicci’s

Positive up rise in the East end driven by Hipsters.

The Guardian (Ed Cumming) recently published an article titled; Can hipsters save the world?

Super bowls: Irish twins Gary and Alan Keely, founders of the Cereal Killer café  in Brick Lane.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/mar/08/can-hipsters-save-the-world

The article challenges critics of the new hipster trend and particularly Channel 4’s interview with Cereal Killer Cafe’s owners, Gary and Alan Keely (discussed in a previous post by Bonney). Cumming’s argues that despite recent criticisms of Twenty-first century ‘hipsterism’, “economist Douglas McWilliams, The Flat White Economy, suggests that hipsters, and the ecosystem surrounding them, represent the future of British prosperity. Not only are they greener and more ethical than the rest of us, but the industries in which they work are driving our economy. We mock them at our peril.”

“To walk from Old Street roundabout to Shoreditch High Street is to see an extraordinary mix of open-plan offices and galleries, Asian restaurants with fat queues outside and cafés that will mend your bicycle, sprinkled with shark-eyed estate agents and a few resilient kebab shops.”

East London and hipster culture are a demonstration that the 21st century (postmodernist) has moved away from mass production, where during the height of fordism in the early 20th century you would of seen mass trade and production near the docks of the East End, you now see a more intimate, more personal feel. With creative, artistic independent gallery spaces, vintage shops and coffee shops. Although Harvey theorises that postmodernist and capitalism creates this idea of the stranger in the city, East London encourages a more individualistic ideology and hipster consumerism is all about defying capitalism and celebrating independent projects and spaces, this is why East London has such a diverse and magical culture

“It can be tempting to see the world that has been created in this part of east London over the past five years as a model for modern cities. A highly skilled, creative international workforce, commuting by bicycle, thinking hard about where their meat comes from, buying second-hand clothes and selling complicated things to buyers around the world. If you close your eyes and try hard to put aside any prejudices about men with waxed moustaches riding penny-farthings, Shoreditch can appear like a kind of idealised cross between Stockholm and Silicon Valley. Plenty of people hate hipsters, but if more of us lived like them, the world could be greener, more left-wing and less preoccupied by greed”.

Douglas McWilliams believes that the new generation of earners (the hipster generation) is less focused on the economy and how much they’re earning/ spending but they’re more focused on what experiences they can gain and be involved in. He argues that the flat white economy is more driven by leisurely activities then investments and marketing.

Posted by: Sheldon

Positive up rise in the East end driven by Hipsters.