• Connecting with current urban battles

    Various exhibition panels set up at Urban Room, UCL East
    Exhibition panels set up at Urban Room, UCL East

    The ‘Blackfriars SE1 in the 1970s’ exhibition is visiting East London to make connections with contemporary fights for housing, social services and residents’ rights. This will be the first event in the new UCL East Urban Room, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford., and is being promoted there as ‘SE1 Stories: Community action in a London neighbourhood’.

    Additional photographs, archives and sound components make this installation unique, with more to come over the show’s six week stay. Plus a programme of events (see below), bringing together activists from different times and parts of London along with students, academics and artists. Read more about the core exhibition.

    At One Pool Street, Stratford, E20 2AF – how to get there. 20th January to 3rd 8th March (later end due to change in event date), 10am to 6pm Monday to Friday, Saturday by request. Free admittance.

    Photography Project panel with additions.
    Blackfriars Photography Project panel with extra photos and some image making tools from ‘back in the day’.

    Connecting events

    Please register to attend any of the following events, for free, via Eventbrite. No need to book for the exhibition itself, but email urbanroom@ucl.ac.uk if you are interested in a special guided tour, or a large group / school party would like to visit.

    Official Opening, 19th January, 5.30pm to 7pm, limited spaces.

    Public History Open Day, 27th January. You are invited to learn about the role of historians as activists, how to work with archives and what digitisation formats can be used to document social histories. Attendees can also get a first look at the new Memory Bike – a bicycle-mounted recording and listening station and digital acoustic archive. This is a drop-in event, so feel free to come anytime between 10am and 2pm.

    Poster depicting a boot treading on clump of grass with people figures underneath. Text: "Help the Grassroots grow."
    A Community Action Team poster

    Archiving Activism Workshop. 7th February, 2pm to 5pm. East London activists, artists and UCL students are invited to work with the SE1 archive and learn about how to document and catalogue images, paper-based materials, audio files and creative histories.

    Community Action from SE1 to E20 Please note change of date due to strike action: Wednesday 8th March. An intergenerational conversation on arts, activism and regeneration in London. Dialogue event with SE1 and East London activists, artists and community organisers to discuss direct action and creative interventions across time and space. Talks 4pm to 6pm, reception to follow.

    Exploring SE1 and Southwark

    The exhibition will be back on display in its native Southwark soon after the Urban Room version closes. Details on our main exhibition info page ‘Blackfriars SE1 in the 1970s‘ once we have them.

    The SE1 Stories group is also working on ways of connecting exhibition material to a physical exploration of the local area. Keep an eye on the website for further news.

    The Urban Room

    The Urban Room is an experimental exhibition space for students, researchers, artists, and community members. Based on the idea of an ‘urban room’ as a forum for community-driven debate and dialogue, here it brings together academic research and lived experiences of city residents to inspire meaningful education for students and visitors. The space is equipped with oral history recording and archiving capabilities through a Memory Workshop.

    The Urban Room and Memory Workshop are supported by The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment and UCL School for Creative and Cultural Industries.

SE1 Stories – a record of community struggles

Telling the story of an extraordinary period of community action in the 1970s and 1980s in Blackfriars, Waterloo and North Southwark, along London’s south bank.

For many it was a fight for survival as businesses moved out and developers eyed up land for office development, leaving isolated communities struggling to maintain their way of life, coping with run-down housing and threats to facilities such as chemists and laundrettes. Very much the same pressures are re-emerging now – and there is the same need for community action.


Intrepid photographers captured a lot of the activity, which was then published in SE1’s own community newspaper. Many of the photographs are now held in private and public collections, particularly council local history archives, perhaps you know of others hidden elsewhere.

The first project based on this material is the exhibition Blackfriars SE1 in the 1970s.

Please see the About Us page for more.