The People’s Museum runs custom guided walks, be it about urban change, social housing, or radical thinkers. Here’s a sample of what we can offer.
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Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a custom visit.
Radicals, Reformers or Un-common People?
All Guided Tours start and end at the People’s Museum Somers Town, where publications on related histories and a small library can be found.
RADICALS: Anti-colonial routes & Black Radicals: Somers Town
On Cranleigh Street George Padmore lived and led anti colonial struggles. He was part of a network that stretched across the world, but Somers Town was its hub. This walk takes in places associated with Padmore, Nkrumah, CLR James, Claudia Jones, Paul Robeson and others, from the Headquarters of the International African Service Bureau to the site of the Unity Theatre to an impressive block of social housing. The short walk considers the politics of building naming, as we explore the reasons behind the presence of Cecil Rhodes House, now renamed.
RADICALS: Women who changed the world
Our Radical Women walk takes in Feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who lived near Phoenix Road. Her daughter Mary Shelley was born here and wrote Frankenstein, living, like her mother, as an author and a formidable woman. The first walk takes in sites associated with a number of strong women who made their mark on Somers Town, including housing reformers, rebels and revolutionaries. It will take in the St Pancras Old Church so be prepared for uphill walking!
REFORMERS: Social Housing
Choose from the following:
The Fairy Tale District
Somers Town has been called the ‘fairy tale district‘ – join us for a guided walk and workshop around the history of this art – finials and lunettes based on folk tales… Hans Christian Anderson, the Brothers Grimm, and the lives of the saints in flats with names such as St Nicholas, St Anthony. Led by expert guide Steve McCarthy of Hidden London Walks.co.uk, this is a live tour, a visual feast, stories, and a mystery of their loss With local insights from the People’s Museum, people who live here, you have unusual access to unseen art in hidden courtyards. We start at the museum where original restituted artworks can be viewed, because over 100+ have been stolen.
Your ticket sale will help our campaign to restore/ buy back more ‘missing’ finials.
Social housing: Ossuslton Estate echoes of Karl Marx Hof
A guided tour showing the comprehensive vision architects had for the Grade 2 Listed Modernist Social housing Ossulston Estate. Designed by G.Topham Forrest; built between 1927 to 1931, the estate was influenced by Vienna’s Karl Marx Hof, the ambitious scheme included drying rooms, Tenants Halls and different access points. This tour is an insight into with local resident input, giving unique access to its spacious courtyards, and interior features, not usually accessible to the public. The guided Tour starts and ends at the People’s Museum Somers Town, where publications on this Social Housing can be found.
Social housing: Camden’s golden age of council housing: Oakshott
Somers Town is flat. Yet in its midst lies a remarkable group of housing which carries the flavour of an Italian hill town. Built during the golden age of Camden’s Architect’s Department, Oakshott Court was designed by an emigre from the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, taken over by a Polish survivor of Auschwitz and completed by a leading Scottish architect.
1973-76. Architects: Peter Tabori, Roman Halter and James Gowan. We set off from the People’s Museum Somers Town, where refreshments can be obtained afterwards and publications about Camden Council Housing.
REFORMERS: St Pancras housing
The core of our museum is the St Pancras Housing story which is core to Somers Town. Today’s cohesive community, is a living legacy of remarkable 20th Century social housing pioneers; radical priest publican Jellicoe; the UK’s first female Surveyor Irene Barclay, and architect Ian Hamilton, who said “Why should ordinary people not have things of beauty?” Why indeed – explore the people, the vision, and the flats and courtyards and get insights from locals about this innovative vision of how people might live. 2024 marks the 100 anniversary of origins of the flats that stand today.
UN-COMMON PEOPLE: Rebels and anarchist press
Rebels takes in the anarchic and activist histories including squatting in the area; the anarchist press with surprising links to Freedom, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the murder of a policeman.
UN-COMMON PEOPLE: Spirit! Pubs
This spirited walk takes in the many-faceted community life of the area from priest as publicans to men in pram races; memories of a cohesive community, through its festivals, market and mum’s clubs We mourn the loss of 15 pubs on Chalton Street, finishing on a drink in the last remaining pub the Cock Tavern.
Disappearances and Emergences by Professor Esther Leslie
Be guided by cultural expert Professor Esther Leslie, who’s a Somers Town local: to the change in an extraordinary patch of land in the centre of London. What is today a confined blotch squashed between fast roads has witnessed much over the years. Adjacent to what many believe to be the oldest Christian site in Europe, tucked away behind railway termini, it saw waves of experimentation in housing, from the eighteenth century Polygon to every type of social housing of the twentieth century; it is home to the birth of anarchism and from where the author of Frankenstein emerged; it housed hosts of refugees from France in the eighteenth century and others since; here the Pearly Kings – the first, Henry Croft, a costermonger in iridescent garb – began their charitable fundraising; it was the site of a progressive theatre, and where community life was pursued through priest-owned pubs and Mums’ Club pantomimes. Its inhabitants include William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley and more.
Find out on this walk.
Lost/ Found: Somers Town tells the story of Somers Town – through found objects and demolished buildings and lost art – a community and area overlooked amidst developments either side.
Bounded by termini of Euston, King’s Cross and St Pancras, Somers Town is at a crossroads, its community beleagured. Phoenix Road where the festival centres, is a physical crossroads its heart – on one side the Cock Tavern tells the tale of railway workers, activism and rebellion in meeting rooms now turned into private flats; at the other representing Camden’s Golden Age of social housing, Tabori’s Oakshott buries layers of history – the Polygon which housed Wollstonecraft, Godwin and Shelley. Yet it has retained a cohesive community, in part a living legacy of remarkable 20th Century social housing pioneers.
The museum tells these stories: the result of 6 years co-curation of that community into history and local stories. Radical: Reformers: Un-common people sums up its narratives: home to earlier radical ideas about women’s education and medicine, politics, experiments in communal living and working class theatre – ideas of social justice that reach out to all of us.
Visit us the People’s Museum: A Space for us Somers Town at 52 Phoenix Road, NW1 1ES
Visit the museum: we can adapt to groups: we’ve hosted groups from schools interested in their local area with quizzes and group work: to academics: those studying Urban Sustainability, urban planning, change or architecture, or Somers Town as a case study in the development of cities.
Consultation on local area
The People’s Museum was set up to document the change and development that is happening, and we can offer consultancy services: with our experience in documenting change using film, oral histories and surveys, expertise in co-design, consultation and carrying out interviews, and as connected local residents, we offer unparalleled access to local residents and ‘unvarnished’ views.