Collected over 18 months, Grow Our Histories is an oral history project produced by the South London Gallery in partnership with Peckham Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI). For Grow Our Histories, local people share their memories and experiences of living and working in Peckham and Camberwell.
Grow Our Histories explores the history of Peckham through the first-hand experiences of local people. In these recorded interviews, people with connections to the area generously share their unique stories, bringing personal experience and place together. Through early childhood memories, creative and cultural inheritances, local activism, and community connections, these interviews expand on Peckham’s documented history and enrich our understanding of the area’s heritage.
You can listen to selected extracts of all the interviews here, or to each interview in full below.
Dr Charmaine Brown
(Born in Kingston, Jamaica 1962)
Charmaine is a Senior Lecturer in Initial Teacher Education at the University of Greenwich. Between 1989 -1994, Charmaine managed the Peckham Literacy Project and Peckham Publishing Project, known as The Book Place, in Peckham High Street.
(Born in Barbados, 1948)
Karin has had a varied career; she went on to further studies and enjoys creative writing. She lives locally and is a mother and grandmother.
(Born in Bicester, 1959)
Joy has lived in the area since 2013, teaching at Camberwell School of Art. She is an international artist working with photography and related media.
During lockdown, Joy walked in Burgess Park, engaging with fellow locals while connecting with nature and plants. This time inspired a new work, Invisible Life Force of Plants.
(Born in Dulwich, 1944)
Barry has lived and worked in Peckham all his life, doing body work for several local vehicle repair companies. He was the owner of Barry’s Accident Repairs.
Barry shares his memories of the local businesses and the people he worked with around the Bussey Building and in Peckham in the 1960’s.
Dimitri Launder and Anila Ladwa
Dimitri Launder (Born in Surrey, 1974)
Anila Ladwa (Born in London, 1971)
Dimitri is the Artist Gardener and is co-director of Arbonauts. Anila is a creative producer, working in interdisciplinary, social arts practice.
Area 10 was set up in 2002 in an abandoned timber yard in Peckham. It was a cultural space for artists, live music and mixed media arts events until 2009.
(Born in Lagos, Nigeria 1981)
Clement has worked in events and hospitality, organising upscale late night entertainment. He is the owner and landlord of The Prince of Peckham pub.
In his interview, Clement talks about establishing The Prince of Peckham, making change in the area and adding value to the local community.
(Born on Tyneside, 1941)
Eileen is a community activist and founder of Peckham Vision. She has campaigned to get people involved in shaping their environment locally.
Eileen has lived in Peckham since 1973. She recalls the campaigns she has led to protect buildings in Peckham town centre.
VOICES OF PECKHAM BY FELIX TAYLOR
As part of the Grow Our Histories project, artist Felix Taylor was commissioned by the South London Gallery to create an audio-visual piece in response to a series of voice recordings taken on Rye Lane in 2019, before the pandemic. The artist melds these words with a slow, ambient soundtrack, incorporating field recordings made in 2022 on Rye Lane and the Rye itself. Their camera centres on a majestic tree on Peckham Rye, its leaves fluttering in the breeze as the reflections of those people living, working and passing through Peckham unfurl on the screen to create a languid, contemplative work exploring time, people, and place.
“There’s a fluid, dream-like quality to the footage that I really like, and the play between all the talk of changes and regeneration against an unchanging, long-standing tree was something I resonated with. The hazy, dream-like feeling of the VHS puts the stories and the setting out of time. There’s something about memory and moments gone, places and people changing.”– Felix Taylor, 2022
Click here for the Summary of Charmaine Browne’s Oral History
Click here for the Summary of Karin Greene’s Oral History
Click here for the Summary of Joy Gregory’s Oral History
Click here for the Summary of Barry Jenkins’ Oral History
Click here for the Summary of Dimitri Launder and Anila Ladwa’s Oral History
Click here for the Summary of Clement Ogbonnaya’s Oral History
ABOUT THE PECKHAM TOWNSCAPE HERITAGE INITIATIVE
The Peckham Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) has funded the repair of historic buildings in Peckham town centre. Alongside this programme of building works, the Peckham Heritage Regeneration Partnership (PHRP) has developed and delivered projects to encourage and support community involvement in Peckham’s built and social heritage.
This Peckham THI is the result of years of work to promote awareness of Peckham town centre’s historic built environment by Peckham Vision and the Peckham Society. The THI bid was prepared by Southwark Council’s Design and Conservation Team.
Want to find out more about local history?
In our Archive and Local Histories pages, you can explore further stories from Peckham and Camberwell and learn more about the South London Gallery.