Islington Local History Centre and Museum has been awarded funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a documentary film and oral history project that looks at the history of Milner Square, Barnsbury, and examines the social and economic changes experienced by those living there from 1935-75.
A group of past residents, spanning three generations, were filmed in the square, talking about how life has changed since the 1930s-70s and comparing their experiences with those living there today. The film also revisits the square’s industrial past, looking at the Richford Iron Foundry and the British Syphon Factory (which later became the Kardonia Greetings Card Factory) which provided work for many local people before their closure. The oral histories and archive material – photographs, news cuttings etc. – provide a unique insight into this period and discuss issues around the break-up and re-housing of the community through the compulsory purchase order of property by the council in 1972.
The resulting documentary film will then be shown in elderly care and support centres throughout Islington, as part of reminiscence therapy and enrichment sessions for the elderly. This will not only provide a catalyst for further oral histories and engagement, but will inform those resident in the borough today of its heritage.
Writer and producer, Susan Oudot, says: “Having been born and brought up in Milner Square I am very excited to be working on this project. My hope is that we can produce a film that will give people some understanding of what this now-affluent area used to be like. But, more importantly, that it will remind those who lived through that period of their own past and encourage them to talk about it, in the hope that we are able to capture more of this important time in our local and national history.”