Lansbury Micro Museum- Planning the Dream

Curator, V&A East
November 16, 2016

Over the past couple of months we have been welcoming local residents – as well as those from further afield- into the Lansbury Micro Museum at Poplar’s Chrisp Street Market to explore the history and architectural significance of the Lansbury Estate.

This month we are inviting visitors to share and capture their own stories about the Estate, take a walking tour of the neighbourhood and join our panel discussion Planning the Dream. These events take place on 25 and 26 November 2016 – see below for further details.

Lansbury Micro Museum, at Open House London 2016
Lansbury Micro Museum, at Open House London 2016

Neighbourhood number 9 of the 11 self-contained ‘towns’ planned for Stepney and Poplar in the aftermath of the Second World War, the Lansbury Estate is often held up as a model estate owing to its associations with the 1951 Festival of Britain. Its historic status has framed the means by which it is portrayed and understood, yet the estate is not a museum piece or relic but a real community.

The Museum’s first exhibition New Beginnings set out to engage visitors with the original aspirations of London County Council in planning successful post-war communities and in developing the Lansbury Estate. Its next two iterations will aim to consider how life on the Estate has changed over time and how it might change again. What external influences have shaped life on the estate thus far? What has been the impact of modernisation and industrial change? What factors might shape the area in the future?

To thoroughly consider the Estate’s development and the role it has played as a living, working community since its conception in 1951, the Museum curators are inviting local residents (both former and current) to share and record their personal histories and contribute to the next Micro Museum display.

Lucia Scazzocchio, who heads production company Cultivaters and creates ‘Social Broadcasts’ will be setting up a recording booth in the Lansbury Micro Museum on Friday 25 November and at 11 Market Way on Saturday 26 November to capture the personal stories, experiences and insights of the local community. This will build upon the Chrisp Street on Air archive gathered by The Decorators in 2014, which encouraged reflection on the importance of the market as a civic space at the heart of the neighbourhood. The new recordings will be edited and woven together to produce an audio piece for the Lansbury Micro Museum’s second display, which is set to open in February 2017. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own Lansbury-related photographs and objects into the Museum to provoke conversation and storytelling about their lives on the estate and to help chart the history of the neighbourhood.

A walking tour for Open House London, September 2016
A walking tour for Open House London, September 2016

By revealing diverse perspectives on the Estate’s evolution, it is hoped that the Micro Museum will inform and provoke contemporary debate with regards to the regeneration of Lansbury and of many other communities across the UK. Further contributing to the debate will be a series of panel discussions, the first of which- Planning the Dream– will take place on Saturday 26 November. Curator and architectural historian Ruth Lang will be in conversation with Gillian Darley, John Boughton and John Grindrod (see biographies below) discussing the importance of the Estate as a microcosm of planning ideas for London. How successful were the LCC in achieving the aspirations they had? What frustrations were there? How was it viewed at the time? How do we judge that success and what is architecture’s role in defining it?

Prior to the discussion there will be opportunity to join a walking tour of the area with architectural historian Rosamund West and following the discussion we invite visitors to join us for a drinks reception. See below for full details of the weekend’s events.


All planning is necessarily an assault upon liberty; good planning is the assault upon a small liberty for the sake of the larger”  R Furneaux Jordan.

NN9 poster_rev


Key Information

SHARE YOUR STORIES: Record your own Lansbury Estate stories for the next Micro Museum exhibition on Friday 25 November (at the Micro Museum, 10am – 5pm) and on Saturday 26 November (at 11 Market Way, 10am – 3pm). Bring along any objects and/or photographs to help tell the story of the neighbourhood.

TAKE A TOUR: Explore the Estate’s architectural importance on a walking tour with Rosamund West (architectural historian) on Saturday 26 November. Meet at the Micro Museum at 2pm.

JOIN THE DISCUSSION: Planning the Dream. Join Micro Museum Curator Ruth Lang in conversation about the origins of the Lansbury Estate with Gillian Darley, John Grindrod and John Boughton on Saturday 26 November, 3.30 – 5pm.

This events on Saturday 26 November will mark the closing of our current exhibition New Beginnings. The next instalment of the Neighbourhood Number 9 exhibition series New Horizons will open in February 2017.

The Lansbury Micro Museum has been created by the V&A with the support of Poplar HARCA and The Mayor of London. Its exhibitions are curated by architectural historian Ruth Lang and writer/curator Pete Collard.

The National Trust has provided in-kind support by setting up a volunteers programme for the museum.


Ruth Lang is an architect, academic and curator, whose research into London County Council Architects Department investigates the means by which architects work across the boundaries of arts, politics, economics and social structures. She has lectured at University of the Creative Arts (Canterbury), CASS, the University of Portsmouth and University of Brighton, and currently runs the first year undergraduate Architecture course at Central Saint Martins. Alongside this, she has written for Blueprint, RIBA Journal, Volume, Architecture Today, Building Design, and Modernist magazine.

Gillian Darley is a writer, public speaker and broadcaster focused on buildings, landscapes and people. She is president of the Twentieth Century Society and has written three acclaimed biographies. Her book Villages of Vision, first published in 1975, is a seminal work on the subject of planned villages and utopian housing experiments in Britain.

John Grindrod is the author of Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain and the man behind the website Dirty Modern Scoundrel which charts his findings on architecture, brutalism, modernism, design and social history. His next book, Outskirts: Living Life on the Edge of the Green Belt, will be published next year.

John Boughton is a social historian and author of the blog Municipal Dreams, which celebrates the efforts and achievements of London’s municipal reformers with a particular focus on social housing.

2 comments so far, view or add yours


My father ran Wells’s Junk shop in the East India Dock Road and my uncles had stalls in Chrisp Street Market post war until the 1990’s.I have written a book on the influence of the East India Company and Empire on Poplar, particularly focussing on the late Victorian period through to the Festival of Britain. This includes my father fighting in the Burma Campaign during WW11 and his reactions to coming back to his beloved Poplar in 1946 having been away for six years. It is entitled ‘East of Poplar in Mandalay.
I appreciate this is not your remit, but wondered if you had any suggestions as to whom I might approach regarding publication. I have a synopsis if required.

My father ran a Junk Shop in the East India Dock Road and my uncles ran stalls in Chrisp Street Market post-war until the 1990’s. I have written a book about the influence of the East India Company and Empire on Poplar, particularly focussing on the late Victorian period through to 1951 and the Festival of Britain. It is entitled ‘East of Poplar in Mandalay’. It covers pre-war Poplar and my father fighting in the Burma Campaign during WW11. It then details coming back to the devastation of his beloved Poplar having been away for six years.
I appreciate this is not your remit, but I wondered if you had any suggestions as to whom I might approach for publishing. I have a synopsis if required.
Danny Wells
‘Breathing Life into History’

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