Elephant and Castle
Photography by Thaddeus Pope
Elephant and Castle is a large urban neighbourhood in the South London borough of Southwark. Though it takes only a few minutes to travel by bus from Elephant and Castle to the Houses of Parliament, this part of London has been plagued for decades by poverty, crime, poor housing, high unemployment, low levels of educational achievement and a high incidence of teenage pregnancy. Because of these social issues, Elephant and Castle as it exists today will soon be demolished to make way for 170 acres of redevelopment.
The proposed programme of demolition and building will take years to complete and will cost an estimated £1.5 billion, making it one of the largest regeneration projects in Europe. The regeneration includes the demolition of two infamous housing estates and the creation of 5,000 new and replacement homes. Those in support of the project believe that it will massively contribute towards solving the many problems affecting the area and impacting the lives of its residents. However, critics argue that rather than solving these problems the redevelopment will merely shift them to different lower-income neighbourhoods around the capital.
…as the redevelopment draws nearer, many residents and local businesses feel caught in a web of social, economic and political pressures that leaves them with a sense of powerlessness and vulnerability.
At this moment in time Elephant and Castle is one of the most racially and culturally diverse places in Britain. It is home to many dignified, hard-working people and families, including some that have lived in the area for generations. For the redevelopment to be deemed a success, these people need to feel that they have a future in Elephant and Castle and can take advantage of opportunities arising from the flood of investment in the area. However, as the redevelopment draws nearer, many residents and local businesses feel caught in a web of social, economic and political pressures that leaves them with a sense of powerlessness and vulnerability.
The images in this portfolio were made between 2005 and 2006 before demolition and building began. The project description above was also written at that time. Unfortunately, the names of the people I photographed and the interviews I conducted with them were lost before they could be digitised during a succession of quick house moves.
All images copyright © Thaddeus Pope. All rights reserved.