This is a sparkling portrait of working life in the heart of the industrialised world, forged out of spoken testimony. For over a century, London’s Eastern riverside – the Thames Gateway – heaved under the weight of factories, furnaces and commodity mountains. Here, tough working conditions bred a unique culture of craftsmanship, play, paternalism and rebellion. Working Lives of the Thames Gateway charts the ‘within living memory’ experience of the old economy’s foot soldiers, from the 1940’s heyday through to recession and decline. Brimming with surprising stories and beautiful photographs, this is essential reading for anyone interested in ‘voices from below’ or London’s rich social history.
The book is part of an ambitious 3 year project, which collected over 260 oral history interviews with people who worked in a host of near-extinct/dying trades. It accompanies an exhibition at London Guildhall Art Gallery, video documentary and an education pack for schools.