A snapshot of 1980s Battersea lost forever.
Extra Background Information about the mural
In the 1880`s poor quality housing for those constructing the railway was built on marshy ground beside the Thames.
Around 1887, the hall on which the mural was painted was built as a school which lasted until1940 when the head was killed by a bomb. Debates had been held regularly and sometimes a Shakespearean play.
In 1910 Battersea had a black mayor; and in 1920 an Indian communist MP. The staff of St Peter`s Church had acted as social security and sociaL services until the state took over. In the 1970`s the whole area was demolished and replaced by eleven high rise blocks. Youths were out of control and the church was burnt down by a group of 8-year-olds.
To reduce further vandalism, the site became first an adventure playground and then ,with ILEA grants, a youth centre five days a week and a church on Sundays. With graffiti out of control, one side of the hall was rendered, but left undecorated, to allow young people to express themsleves there instead. By 1981 their scrawls had become so rude and vitriolic towards the youth leader, that it was decided to paint a mural there instead. Inspiration came from Brian Barnes`s Good Bad and Ugly mural at Battersea Bridge but the final theme was chosen by Christine Thomas after extensive discussions with local people.
In 1971, Battersea was amalgamated with the die-hard Tory Wandsworth and in 1971 despite a seventy-day and night occupation by local people, the Junior library which had been opened by the author of the Wombles and was issuing 50,000 books a year was axed- followed by almost all the nurseries, children`s play facilities,community centres and advice centres in the borough which were run by the local community. Unemployment soared. Hence the Wombles on the mural, and the unemployment queues which were one of the few things that had not changed.
I was vicar of the ares from 1970 to 1997.
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21 Plough Road, Battersea, London SW11 2DE
This mural no longer exists.
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