Guiding Lubetkin

This blog was kindly written for us by Jiff Bayliss. Jiff is our qualified Clerkenwell and Islington Guiding Association Guide who took up the mantel of creating a community walk with the residents of Bevin Court.

When, in in the summer of 2014, Islington Museum secured Heritage Lottery funding to undertake the restoration of Peter Yates’ 1954 mural in the lobby of Bevin Court, one of the exciting ideas included in the project was to take a lead from the community and have a series of community initiatives.

As well as establishing a website, restoring the bust of Ernest Bevin and engaging with the wider community, a walk to put the mural into local and historical context was planned and I put in a proposal to the Heritage Team as to how we might approach this.

The initial brief was to produce a walk which told the story of:
• Berthold Lubetkin, the architect of Bevin Court, and his associates
• the local landmarks associated with Lubetkin, and
• the history of the area’s development.

The intention was to make this a community led initiative and a steering group of Bevin Court residents was formed to oversee the walk’s development with the aid of some professional support. Alex, the project co-ordinator, convene and chaired the meetings with myself as the Clerkenwell and Islington Guide, who would be leading the walks.
The Gang
Some of the Gang: Paula, Julia, Sue, Jiff and Alex. We also had huge help from Carol, Tom, Haidee and David.

One of the first things to sort out was how long we would like the walk to be. I advised that for an hour walk the total number of stops should be between 7 and 10.  We then started with a brainstorm of possible stops within a mile and a half of Bevin Court, “The Gang” identified 18 stops which was then whittled down to 12 then 10.

We then went through all the information and stories and discussed what it was that we wanted to impart to people on the walk. One of the challenges was to think about how this information could be related to the stops so we had to make sure the stops were:

  • safe to stop at
  • interesting and informative in their own right
  • make sense of how they are related to the wider theme of the walk

To work through how the walk would flow I  summarised all of our stops and ideas in  a matrix.

Bevin Court Walk Matrix

Once we had all our thoughts agreed I was sent away to do the initial research. After much discussion,  we finalised our tour to 10 stops. Due to the time restraints and what the group wanted to focus on, Spa Green Estate and the New River Company headquarters were dropped and it was agreed that the final 5 stops would all be inside Bevin Court. Now to try it out…

Three “Dry Runs” were undertaken with residents and Islington Museum staff, some more successful than others…!
Dry run walk
The walk was finalised with an extra 11th stop at Wilmington Square.

Bevin Court Walk Route

This is the route was followed with its first walkers on 18 July 2015. It has been repeated 8 times since  winning compliments from participants and recommendations from the Royal Academy and the London Architectural Diary.

Well done, Gang!! Another 8 walks are planned taking the programme into summer 2016. A broader Historypin tour showing and mapping all of Lubetkin’s work in the UK (and Paris) will be available in the new year.

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