Public to witness the story of a community in Broadwater Farm Community Centre exhibition

By Richard Moss Published: 27 October 2010

a pencil drawing of high rise buildings
The Broadwater Farm Estate is today a model of intergration and diversity © B A Steele
Exhibition: Broadwater Farm, The Story of a Community 1967 – 2010, Broadwater Farm Community Centre, Adams Road, London, until November 7 2010

For many, the Broadwater Farm Estate in North London will forever be associated with one of the most violent nights of civil unrest in modern memory and for the appalling murder of PC Keith Blakelock.

But for the community who still live on the estate, the story of "The Farm", as it is locally known, transcends that terrible evening of October 1985 and is a tale of resilience and rebirth against the odds.

A new exhibition at the Broadwater Farm Community Centre tells this story and reveals how a community came back from the brink to become a new model of social housing and integration that is today recognised across the world. 

a photo of a man holding a wooden plaque commemorating a visit by Diana Princess of Wales
Clasford Stirling MBE, Youth and Sports Development Officer. Photograph by James Burns 2010© James Burns
Now one of the safest in London with a crime rate near zero, the estate’s renewal is rooted in the work of local people who refused to give up and were prepared to instigate the changes necessary to rebuild their community.

Featuring pictures, paintings, home video, treasured objects, music and printed panels, the exhibition was inspired by Clasford Stirling MBE, a local figure and founding member of the Broadwater Farm Youth Association in 1981.

Under Clasford’s guidance, a procession of young talent has risen from their surroundings to play for London’s football clubs, including Jobi McAnuff at Reading FC. He continues to work as Youth and Sports Development Officer at Broadwater Farm Community Centre to this day.

His collection of photos and videos amassed over the years form the backbone of the exhibition, which also features artworks, artefacts from the wider community together with films and memories recorded by local schoolchildren specially for the exhibition.

Only weeks before the October 1985 riots, Diana Princess of Wales visited the estate in recognition of the work of the Youth Association. Many thought the good work she witnessed had been undone. Broadwater Farm may continue to stir the emotions but this exhibition goes some way to telling the wider story of a community and its place in history.

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