Arnold Circus in Hoxton is an amazing piece of London history, that until recently has been forgotten. A former bandstand built in the middle of the UK's first council/social housing estate, the Boundary Estate, local residents (including my mum, who is on the back row of the photo next to me) have now decided to do something positive about it .
The Boundary Estate and Arnold Circus was the dream of one man a local vicar who was determined to rid London of its worst slum. The area around Old Nichol Street, where agencies like Mother and Glue are now, was indescribably squalid, disease-ridden and packed with people. When the Estate was opened it was a symbol of Victorian progress. And then it was simply left to rot. Now the area which borders the wonderful Columbia Road flower market is gentrifying. It's full of art-y, middle class media types and I don't say this as a criticism in anyway at all. It's one of the reasons that they are so good at getting Arnold Circus in the news and the reason that something is being done at last.
Friends of Arnold Circus (the site appears to be down this morning annoyingly) was launched last year. They have done a great job in connecting to the local community, gathering memories from the older residents about days spent playing, dancing, listening to bands at the Circus. They are also working hard to ensure that the local ethnic communities are not side-lined, one of their most successful events has been a Carrom afternoon, an Indian game like shuffleboard or checkers.
This Sunday afternoon April 1st from 2pm - 8pm, they are hosting their first Circus on the Circus. With juggling, globe-walking, face-painting, BBQs, local hipster celebrities (I made that bit up, though there are usually some famous faces) Their pot-luck picnics, live music shows and Carrom events have been great examples of London's changing East End.
Don't forget to stop in to Leila's Shop on Calvert Avenue, the best deli in Shoreditch, and look at some of the other designer shops on the same street, it's turning into a great shopping area.
Arnold Circus is at the end of Calvert Avenue, just off Shoreditch High Street. Closest tubes are Old Street or Liverpool Street.