Petticoat Lane Heritage Trail
Conservation Area. On the Heritage at Risk Register.
London Borough of Tower Hamlets (Client)
Laura Owen (Project Officer)
make:good (Design Lead)
Vicky, Barida, Julie and Kim (Community Researchers)
Susan Skedd (Research Mentor)
£18,905 (Phase 1)
The Wentworth Street Conservation Area is one of 58 conservation areas in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. A defining characteristic of the Wentworth Street Conservation Area is Petticoat Lane Market which for 6 days a week occupies the area covering the intersection between Wentworth Street and Middlesex Street.
Most of the buildings existing within the Wentworth Conservation Area date from the 19th century, but in recent years many have fallen into a bad state of repair, and the historic character of the conservation area is under threat. The conservation area has been on the Heritage at Risk Register since 2009, with its condition categorised as ‘very bad’.
In 2020, the area became one of more than 60 historic high streets across England to receive funding as a High Street Heritage Action Zone. The government-funded programme will unlock the potential of high streets, fuelling economic, social, and cultural recovery through bespoke programmes of capital repairs, training and cultural activities in each High Street.
As part of the Petticoat Lane High Street Heritage Action Zone scheme, London Historic Buildings Trust are partnering with design practice, make:good, and working with Tower Hamlets Council to facilitate a community-led Heritage Trail project. The project aims to explore, interpret and creatively showcase the vibrant history and heritage of Petticoat Lane and its communities.
About the Project
The Heritage Trail project is being delivered in two phases – Phase 1 has been the research and development of 10-stop temporary trail in and around the Conservation Area; Phase 2, which is currently being fundraised for, will see the Heritage Trail expanded, incorporating oral histories and photography, and installed permanently within the public realm.
You can find out more how we delivered Phase 1, and our plans for Phase 2, below.
In January 2022 four local people were appointed as paid Community Researchers to kick start the project. Their role was to explore stories, events and themes relating to the history and heritage of the area that interested them and they felt should be showcased to the wider public.
The four Community Researchers were provided research support via a mentor, Susan Skedd. Susan helped single out relevant archives and sources for the Researchers, and offered guidance on how to collate and summarise the information they had gathered.
The stories, images and information produced by the Researchers, such as this eighteenth century map showing the Petticoat Lane area as nothing more than tree-lined tracks and countryside, were then transformed into creative artwork by design studio make:good to help shape the beginnings of the Trail.
Consultation and Design Workshops
Utilising the research produced make:good led on a programme of participatory design. They worked with members of the community and wider public to explore the design of the Trail and test the emerging character-based format.
Engagement activities included a history, poetry and design session with pupils from Canon Barnett Primary School and an interactive stall on the Market where we spoke with members of the wider community, general public, and a range of stall holders and local businesses who shared with us their stories and memories of the market from the past 50 years.
Feedback from these activities helped confirm the desire and interest for a Trail, as well as the shape and format. These activities have also provided further ideas for Phase 2.
Following the community research, the design and engagement activities, we finalised a 10-stop temporary trail. The Trail consists of 10 stickers, dotted in relevant locations in and around the Wentworth Street Conservation Area. Each sticker represents a ‘character’ linked Petticoat Lane, and features a QR code that can be scanned, leading to a webpage with more information and images about that character.
For those that cannot visit the Trail in person, the route and information on each character can be accessed online via the Petticoat Lane Heritage Trail webpage.
This 10-stop temporary trail is a pilot, and we are keen to get feedback from the wider community and public to help plan for Phase 2, which will result in a permanent Heritage Trail with even more characters.
We have established the Petticoat Lane Heritage Trail website as a hub to host the QR code information, as well as further details and resources about the project, including insights from the four Community Researchers, Julie, Vicky, Kim and Barida.
A historical timeline captures key events in the history of the Petticoat Lane area, taken from the community researcher’s work. We aim to add more entries to the timeline during Phase 2 as there is such a long and rich history to share.
We’re now fundraising for Phase 2 which we will see a permanent enlarged Heritage Trail delivered in the area.
The Phase 2 project will also deliver a range of further employment, training and learning opportunities for the local community, building upon the activities delivered in Phase 1.
Whilst we fundraise for Phase 2, the Online Hub and associated social media pages will act as a platform to encourage discussion and share memories of Petticoat Lane. We hope that this will identify further stories, characters, and events to research and capture during Phase 2.
The Project has been funded by;
The Project has been delivered by;
Dr Susan Skedd
Historian & Heritage Consultant
Oral Historian, Heritage Consultant and Project Manager
To support us financially you can make a one off donation or, for an annual donation, you can become one of our patrons and take part in our new Patron’s Programme of events, lectures and site visits.