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Bethnal Green Stories

Eastside community Heritage in partnership (ECH) with Affinity Sutton and in collaboration with the residents of Bethnal Green have sort to document and preserve the rich history Sutton’s first estate has to offer.

Outside-Sutton-Dwellings-c-1940

William Sutton was born in Cheapside in London in 1833. In 1861, he founded Sutton and Co; thought to be the UK’s first door to door parcel service. At his death in 1900, the company had 600 branches. His will left almost his entire fortune to trusts for housing London’s poor, despite never appearing to have had any charitable aims prior, nor had he held any kind of public office. His family disputed the will, along with London County Council, who felt that providing good, cheap dwellings would lead to falling rent prices. Sutton’s will was upheld – a victory against those trying to prevent his wealth being used for relief of the poor.

Egg and Spoon Race at Sutton Dwellings-Bethnal Green-2012

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Patricia discusses the inside of the flat.

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Patricia discusses recreation on estate.

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Ivel discusses changing estate.

First World War Soldier and resident of Sutton Dwellings c.1917-crop

The Sutton Model Dwellings Trust built many estates for the poor across England, with the very first built in Bethnal Green. Sutton Model Dwellings Trust is now known as Affinity Sutton.
Through community outreach work and engagement with local residents and young people, ECH has been able to promote and celebrate wider civic understanding of the estates history. This has been accomplished by taking an inclusive approach to working alongside local residents allowing for a joint participation of activities such as oral history interviews, reminiscence sessions, workshops and exhibitions. In doing so, this project has engaged this diverse community through a shared heritage and history. Investing time with the local community has resulted in the preservation of history and cultural identity for which the residents of Bethnal Green can embrace and benefit. Importantly, the young people working with this project have experienced and practised transferable skills which can be used to enable further opportunities. The result of which can be taken to the benefit of wider community through a sense of empowerment and pride.

Residents, circa 1980s

Linda discusses going on holiday.

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David & Jessie Wall discuss flat and rental price.

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Michael discusses love for flat & Bethnal Green.

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If you would like more information, please contact office@ech.org.uk.