The photographs are of the people that run, work in or shop at the independent shops along West Green Road, some have lived in the area for their whole life, others have moved more recently. Nearly everyone has something to say about the road or the community here. The photographs and captions exist as records of my interactions, however short, of the people that I have met, photographed and spoken to on the road. The portraits act as a document of a place in flux, on the cusp of change and regeneration.
West Green Road runs west from Seven Sisters station in the borough of Haringey, north London and is home to a strong community of people from all over the world. It has been reported that there are nearly 200 different languages spoken in Haringey, making it one of the most diverse boroughs in the country. West Green Road is a particularly traditional high street, versions of which can be found everywhere. The road is home to all of the businesses that you would expect to find, butchers, bakers, convenience stores, beauty parlors, hairdressers and barbers. This road would be particularly familiar to anyone who has visited or lived in the outer boroughs of London where roads like this are home to independent businesses that are specific to a particular community. The businesses do not just exist as places of work but where families and friends socialise. This is particularly evident in the barbershops, hairdressers and various beauty parlors at the weekends.
West Green Road is starting to change. The surrounding residential areas and council estates are being redeveloped and the road has been given a new lick of paint. Haringey council has been assigned £50,000 from The High Street Innovation fund to improve a section of the road, which runs from Seven Sisters station to Lawrence Road. This is the part of the road that I walk down most days on the walk to the station from my flat. This initiative is a part of the Tottenham Regeneration Programme and has provided a selection of local businesses with funding to redesign and repaint their shop fronts with the guidance of local artists, in an attempt to make the road more aesthetically pleasing. The regeneration project that is currently underway in Tottenham aims to bring 5,000 jobs and 10,000 new homes to the area. Tottenham has a troubled history, experiencing two major riots in two decades, in 1985 and 2011 and has been plagued by bad press surrounding its services. Haringey has 10,000 people on the social housing waiting list and has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. The regeneration plans have been welcomed by most residents, especially those of West Green Road who are seeing the first signs of the road returning to its former glory. However, issues surrounding the new £400 million Tottenham Hot Spurs stadium development, just up the road, and the loss of homes and businesses, as a result, make it clear that regeneration is a positive thing, only if executed sensitively with the communities best interest in mind. I have lived in this area of North London for five years and, as is normal for city living, have never really connected with the community that I live amongst.
This project’s main purpose was to encourage me to engage with people that I walk past most days, so that I could understand and perhaps also become a part of, it’s ever- changing history.