Yesterday we heard the very sad news that half of Wood Street Indoor Market (incidentally the half we are performing in) has been sold to a developer to turn into flats.
We first performed in the market two years ago with a show about the closed dog track, which is still sitting idle after being sold off for a similar venture. In that time we have seen the market go from strength to strength and now it is definitely busier and more dynamic than it was two years ago. Obviously not enough to save it...
This market has a community, the traders and the people around Wood Street use and need this market. Punters come in, they know the names of the traders, they are loyal to them and often just come in for a chat. Those that just happen to stumble through, end up discovering a treasure trove of wonders, from locally made gin, gorgeous vintage clothes and any vinyl record you could imagine, amongst other things.
We have been there for under a month now and already feel like part of the fabric. In Wood Street we are finding an excited, passionate and friendly community that are fascinated by their area’s past and want to celebrate it. But more importantly this is a public space. A space that people can walk through, a place people can meet and a place conversation can and does happen. In a city where we go about our daily routines and rarely stop to say hello or explore where we live and really learn and appreciate not only what's around us but who we are sharing our patch of London that we call home with. So when this gets knocked down an important part of Wood Street will be lost. We are creating our show about the cinematic history of Wood Street and the Market. The fascinating history of how this public space turned into another public space is a rare story in the city. In the last thirty years we have seen a culture in London and the UK of public spaces being turned into private property creating a void of places to talk and even to see each other, creating a disconnected population.
Now I am not saying we should never change buildings uses. The very fact that this was a cinema and now a market is fascinating. It shows the fluid nature of structures, especially in London. The Church turn Synagogue turn Mosque on Brick Lane certainly springs to mind.
However, the moment it becomes flats it will be snatched from the community and given to another...another type of community. One that can afford Boris’s idea of affordable housing, which happens to be 30 grand a year if you want a one bedroom flat. Once it becomes flats...or offices- that’s it. It will never be anything else...it will (most likely) never be a public space again.
We have a culture now where profit is more important than community and people. Boris and his developer friends seem to be more than happy to tear the heart out of a place.
Slap Haddock creates theatre to celebrate public space and bring the community to it. We hope our show is a celebration of what this market is and will continue to be rather than a last Hurrah.
This is a special place and thankfully this community is active and cares. You can support them here.