Press release

Struggles of Bangladeshi Squatters of Myrdle Street/Parfett Street (1975-1995)

May 2019

East End Connection is pleased to announce an award of £10K from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help reveal key elements of the twenty-year struggles for decent housing by Bangladeshi squatters living in Myrdle Street/Parfett Street. It will include their fight against racism and racial violence, the establishment of the Sylhet Housing Co-op in 1985 and the transfer of thirty-four properties to its ownership by the Local Council through Greater London Council (GLC) funding, and the vote to transfer its assets to two local housing associations in 1994. 

The project will be delivered through recruiting community volunteer participants wo will be provided with workshops / training on local housing history and archival research, archiving and interviewing skills – provided by Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives, London Metropolitan Archives and Oral History Society. Though this is not a full-blown oral history project, the training on oral history principles and methods will enable the participants to undertake better quality interviews. In addition, five squatters from the period will be provided with training on public speaking and undertaking guided heritage walks.

Each volunteer will interview three individuals each from five different groups – women squatters, men squatters, children of squatters, non-Bangladeshi squatters and non-Bangladeshis involved with the Sylhet Housing Co-op – collect relevant documents and photographs and undertake archival research. The project co-ordinator will supervise the volunteers; study documents and renovation / regeneration plans; and take images and video footage of project activities. Collectively, the volunteers will produce fifteen written accounts of interviews. The project co-ordinator will work with them and produce an electronic publication, a pop-up banner exhibition and a thirty-minute video documentary. 

There will be a project completion celebration where the volunteer community participants and trained squatters / leaders of Sylhet Housing Co-op will make presentations and share their findings and experiences. Local residents and invited guests will be invited to attend the event. Soon after this, several larger public exhibitions will be organised at various Idea Stores in Tower Hamlets, starting with the Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives.

During the first month after the celebration event, which will be the last month of the HLF funded project, four guided walks around Myrdle Street and Parfett Street and surrounding streets will be carried out by the trained squatters / leaders of Sylhet Housing Co-op, with support from the community volunteers, following the footsteps of the guided walk provided for the young Prince Charles when he visited the area in 1987 to see for himself the dilapidated state of the locality and offer support and influence towards improvements.

At the end of the month of guided walks, a file containing a written account of the interviews, recordings, documents, photographs and a copy of the video documentary will be given to the Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives.  Details will be uploaded on the newly created website of the East End Connection.

East End Connection (EEC) would like to thank The National Lottery Heritage Fund for their grant support and the National Lottery players that fund Britain’s diverse heritage.

For more information about this unique project, contact Kamal Uddin / Bodrul Alom on office@eastendconnection.org.uk

Note to editors

About The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. www.heritagefund.org.uk.

Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund 

Struggles of Bangladeshi Squatters