WE: The Ex-Warner Estate in Waltham Forest: A major arts and heritage project exploring the social history and continuing importance of the Warner Estate in Waltham Forest, London, by artists Lucy Harrison and Katherine Green / Rendezvous Projects CIC. Winner of the London Borough of Waltham Forest Love Your Borough award for Arts, Culture & Heritage, 2017.

The project has so far uncovered hundreds of historical photos and recorded over thirty new oral history interviews. It has included a team of volunteers; two substantial exhibitions; numerous events, walks and talks; a publication including historical information and transcripts of oral histories; a walking tour app. It’s brought many people into contact with each other, including elderly and socially isolated people.

Project statistics: We recruited 31 volunteers whose experience included learning photography, conducting oral history interviews, managing events & marketing; 4 free memory sharing events in local community spaces; training for 12 volunteers in oral history; oral history interviews conducted by volunteers; training for 12 volunteers in photography; training in archive research for 6 volunteers; training in architectural heritage for 3 volunteers; led historical walks for 19 volunteers; run 2 public ‘Research your Warner Home’ workshops at Vestry House Museum, attended by 44 people; given 2 free artists talks for 70 people; held 2 free tea parties with 160 attendees; our exhibition at Vestry House Museum had 12,661 visitors over 6 months.

“Warner” properties were built in the borough from the late nineteenth century until the mid-twentieth century, with many of the properties taking the form of distinctive red brick self-contained flats.

The project has taken place in several stages.

Stage 1 (2014): The first stage of the project took place in 2014, funded by an Arts Development grant from Waltham Forest Council along with sponsorship from the Stow Brothers Estate Agents. It included an exhibition in the former Warner rent office for Lloyd Park, the publication of a book, a series of community events and the collection of archive material, much of which is available on this website. The first stage was in collaboration with local writer Kirstin Sibley and Walthamstow Historical Society. The project focussed on capturing previously unrecorded social history and aimed to document the current residents of ex Warner properties, including long-term renters, new renters, those who recently purchased or who had purchased directly from the Warners.

Through stage 1, as the wealth of material from the longer-term older residents surfaced, we applied to Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund to capture and preserve more of this history.

Stage 2 (2016): The second stage included a new call out for participants and archive material, an exhibition at Vestry House Museum (29 October 2016 – 21 May 2017), and a second edition of the book. The exhibition was funded by a grant from Arts Council England, with sponsorship from local businesses the Stow Brothers and London Lofts and Construction.

Stage 3 (2017): A mobile phone app walking tour was developed to document the history of the area and allow members of the public to take part in historic walks of the area. The app includes oral histories, guided tours and archive material. The app is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund as part of a new phase managed by Rendezvous Projects CIC, of which Lucy and Katherine are both directors. A group of local volunteers carried out oral history interviews, photographed the streets and have assisted with the development of the mobile phone app.