Monday, 4 January 2010

Famous Residents

Many famous people now own houses on Fournier Street. Here are a few of their views on the area and how it has changed:

Gilbert and George's Eastenders - Alistair McKay for the Evening Standard (31.01.07) talking to Gilbert and George

"Fournier Street was occupied by buttonmakers, furriers and hat-makers, and the area was Jewish. "The front doors were open all day," says George. "All the windows were open, so people would speak to each other from one side of the street to the other. Extraordinary antique behaviour. "This area has been everything. It's been a Roman cemetery, it's been part of the hospital for the returning Crusaders. It's been a manufacturing base for guns which, curiously, was staffed entirely by Germans. "In between the Jews and the Bangladeshis, it was briefly Maltese, then Somali. It was extraordinary when it was Maltese because they all had Alsatian dogs, they kept ferrets, they played cards all day."

"To explore this further, Gilbert and George take me on a tour. The first stop is the mosque on the corner of Fournier Street and Brick Lane. "That was the synagogue when we were students," says George. "The posh synagogue at that." "It was a French church," says Gilbert. "A Huguenot church. They tried to convert Jewish people to Christianity. It didn't work." Facing the end of the street is the BanglaCity cash-and-carry, where we pause to admire some tumblers. "This section of the design is like a hand grenade," says George. "And this is like the butt of a revolver. Somehow or other it's found its way into glassware. We wondered where these were from, and we looked underneath - Saudi Arabia."

Me and My Home: A House with History - Caroline Wingfield for the Independent talking to John Nicolson.

"The room in the basement, which is now the kitchen, was completely underground and I've restored it back to its original proportions. There was a staircase that came down from the shop above, but it was really just a tunnel that you could barely crawl in. It had originally been a room, and the fireplace is still there. We think it was used to dye silk and they would use the chimney for ventilation. The strange thing is that because they were very poor, the people who lived in the house didn't, as we would do, renovate by ripping everything out and replacing, they renovated by enclosing. So each new generation built walls across the walls and ceilings over the ceilings, floors on top of floors. So the whole thing gradually became like a Russian doll, all boxed in, and it was much smaller when I came than it is now. What I did was peel off layers: plastic wood, then hardboard, then metal sheeting, then layers of wallpaper and finally you got to the original panelling."

"The Huguenots used to hide horseshoes round the house and I've found four so far. After the discoveries, I decided to leave a time capsule in the house myself. I thought to myself, 'What would I like to find?' I thought I'd like to find who was in the house, what they thought about their period, what they thought about the house, where they came from, what their families' names were, what they thought about social attitudes at the time. When you think what this house has been through, it's been through wars and famine, through the Jacobite rising of 1745 - that was happening when this house was 30. I would love to know what the people living here thought about these big issues. So I put in some pictures of the way the house was before I renovated it and now, wrote about the job of renovating it, wrote about my job. I then wrapped it in plastic and put it in a wooden box. They'd have to do major work to find it, but if they did major work, they would find it."

At Home in the 18th Century - Caroline McGhie for the Telegraph talking to Dan Cruickshank

"All these streets were derelict in the early 1970s," he says. "The houses were gaunt, open to the sky and the street. I walked into this house over a pile of rubble and through that window." He points to the black shutters at the back of the house. It was incredible. Perfect. With rain pouring into buckets on the top floor. The families had left their furniture. The whole street was up for demolition. The fact that houses were listed meant nothing."

"Indeed the City Fringe is now so sought-after that it is no longer thought of as East London but as Central London. "No one used to live in these areas apart from council tenants," says David Salvi of Hurford Salvi Carr. "But now it is one of the most fashionable places to live and work. It's where the young artists and designers are plying their trade." In his time he has seen the Fringe take off like a Mexican wave, starting with Clerkenwell in the early 1990s, then Shoreditch and Spitalfields, followed by Borough and Bermondsey."

"More money is being spent on them, but they are empty. These people come and go and don't make a community."

No comments:

Post a Comment