Knickerbocker Glories and Bendy Sausages

Photographer Mark Cawson, aka Smiler recollects the working men’s cafes he used to frequent when he was squatting in Kings Cross. He moved to Cromer Street in the early 1980’s and began living in one of the most notorious estates in the area. A haven for drug users, prostitution and crime the huge Victorian tenement …

Rough as guts

  Christopher Watson was born on Christmas day in 1941. We met him in his house on Packenham Street, where he has lived for over 40 years. We discovered there a host of characters who have accompanied Christopher through the pubs, clubs and drag balls of King’s Cross and Soho from the 1960s to today. When …

You could play football in the street

Born in 1929, Arthur Mills moved to a block of flats on the corner of Wynford Road and Penton Street when he was five. His mother refused to evacuate the family during the war and because the schools closed, Arthur’s early childhood was spent playing in the streets and bombed out houses. Wartime austerity meant …

We didn’t want to be pioneers, we wanted to be parents

Outspoken Socialists Jennie Lazenby was born in 1954, and named after Jennie Lee, a  Labour Politician. Her mother was Gloria Lazenby, who served as as a Labour Councillor for Camden from 1986 until 2002, and as Mayor of Camden in 1996.  We talked to Jennie in the house she inherited from her mother, after she died …

We broke in the normal fashion

  Steve Lake moved to Priory Green Estate in 1979. Tipped off about an empty flat in Grimaldi House, a Dickensian building out of keeping with the rest of the estate, Steve and a few friends decided to make it their home. They broke into the flat ‘in the normal fashion’, and changed the locks …

Grassroots politician who lived round the blocks

 Photo credit: Michael Hall She represented King’s Cross as a councillor for 22 years and went on to serve three terms as the mayor of Camden, but it could be said Barbara Hughes’ political roots lie in the Hillview Estate. It was here she brought up her three sons in the 1950s and ‘60s and …

It’s my home, for better and for worse

When Shola Alli moved onto Hillview in 1999, it was with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the estate’s refurbishment had just been completed and everything looked shiny and new. On the other, it was still damned by association with King’s Cross, whose own regeneration had not yet begun. “The area was still very much linked …

Nice work if you can get it

Taking a tea break It is a fine winter’s morning when I meet Hillview caretaker Khaled Ali, the sun beaming down from an impossibly blue sky. As we sit down to chat in the courtyard of Whidborne Buildings amid the luxuriant shrubbery it is hard to believe we are a stone’s throw from the Euston …

From bleak to chic

When John Mason moved on to Hillview as one of the first shortlife tenants, he did not think he would still be there some 40 years later. After being burgled three times in one flat he ended up in another on the ground floor near one of the entrances. “It did not take long for …

Where the Buffalo Roam

Where the Buffalo Roam Jane Penton was born a Kiwi, but having an English grandfather allowed her to move to the UK during the eighties. Over the ten years that Jane was in London, she spent time living and squatting around Somers Town, an area of King’s Cross behind The British Library. I spoke with Jane …