R-Urban

Wick Curiosity Shop

The Collection

Trowbridge Estate

What:

Film

When:

1985

Where:

Trowbridge Estate

Who:

Image by Chris Dorley-Brown

Image by Alan Denney

With the decline of industry in the are Hackney Wick lost much of its population, much of the early street pattern has now disappeared and as part of redevelopment in the 1960s the Greater London Council's Trowbridge estate left only the north-south line of Osborne and Prince Edward roads from the centre of the old street pattern. First opened in 1965 and completed in 1969, the estate included 117 bungalow homes but was most striking for its seven 21-storeyed towers with mosaic facings and glass balconies. In 1960 the London County Council's Eastway Park was opened as an old people's home, south-west of Hackney's former Public Baths (now the Hackney Wick Community Centre).

The railway's division of Hackney Wick was reinforced from the 1970s by the partly sunken Cowdry Road and the elevated East Cross motorway. Construction of the East Cross route involved the demolition of Hackney Wick station, which had been closed since 1943, although a new station in Chapman Road was opened in 1980. The condition of the estate itself deteriorated quickly and plans to redevelop the Trowbridge estate were modified in 1987, after only three of the tower blocks had been demolished. By the late 1990s all the towers had been demolished and replaced with a low-rise housing.

The demolition of these tower blocks was highly contested within the local community and like many demolitions, was well documented. Many photographs are captured on various photographers Flickr pages such as sarflondondunc, Danncy McL, Alan Denney and Chris Dorley-Brown.

Artist Rachel Whiteread screenprinted several images of the estate in her series Demolished, now in the Tate Collection. Whiteread writes that "Demolished captures the destruction of tower blocks in three different housing estates in Hackney, east London, between 1993 and 1995. According to Whiteread, this work is 'something that is going to be completely forgotten... the detritus of our culture'.During the Thatcher era, Whiteread was particularly concerned by the social and economic changes introduced by the Conservative party, and their impact on homeless people in London. This work operates as a metaphor for neglect and disappearance, commemorating what no longer exists".

The Trowbridge Estate also features in a book published in 2009 by the Hackney Society entitled Hackney - Modern, Restored, Forgotten, Ignored edited by Lisa Rigg. The book aims to docuement changes in the built environment of the borough since the Society's inception in the 1960s through case studies of 40 architectural projects.