Hackney Changemakers: Guardians of the Arches Tour

After a little break, it’s a slightly different Hackney Changemakers. This time we’re looking at the brilliant grassroots organisation Guardians of the Arches, ahead of a special tour next week for London Festival of Architecture 2021.

Join us next Tuesday for an amazing story as we explore East London Arch Life. The tour is entitled David and Goliath and it’s an epic tale of state chicanery, global property deals and how little people like us can end up squashed between the wheels of big business.

Thanks to the people of Guardians of the Arches, we’ve got a tour like no other: you’ll get the inside track on a hidden side of London under its many railway arches, but also see a powerful example of how people power and community organising can change the world.

It‘s possibly the biggest tenant-landlord story of the decade…? And it started right here.

You may have heard about the sell-off of the arches by Network Rail. You may have read in articles like this that some businesses have faced 100% or even 300% rent increases and are still being squeezed during a pandemic. But you might not have heard how this small group of East London activists is changing the game. And you might not be able to appreciate the human cost and just what these diverse businesses actually contribute to the city.

East London first attracted me because of its quirkiness. Its art scene was a bit part of that as well as its radical history past and present. But the small businesses that are hanging on under the Victorian railway arches are also part of that scene.

These independent small businesses are often run by entrepreneurs and have a lot of character. They also play an important role in providing services that are otherwise hard to find. If they are all priced out, where will our local authority go to get their vehicles serviced? Where will we go for fitness if the gyms disappear? While we might love new bars, what happens when it reaches saturation point?

And what of the people, the humans behind these businesses who have often put their whole lives into enterprises that pay business rates, employ local people and provide unglamorous services that are not suitable for high streets? Fortunately, Guardians of the Arches are fighting hard to protect these independent concerns and keep East London’s small business scene diverse and interesting.

We’ve organised an unusual walk this Tuesday 8th where you can here these stories. Half the money goes to Guardians of the Arches and thanks to Mother Kelly’s E2 there’s a pint and packet of crisps included!

So come and be surprised by a story with a twist and see a side of London you might never otherwise see.

Next week it’s back to normal on Hackney Changemakers with Urban MBA.

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