All change! (Peter Gabriel, Supper’s Ready)

“[The Rookery]… crazy wooden galleries common to the backs of half a dozen houses, with holes from which to look upon the slime beneath; windows, broken and patched, with poles thrust out, on which to dry the linen that is never there; rooms so small, so filthy, so confined, that the air would seem to be too tainted even for the dirt and squalor which they shelter; wooden chambers thrusting themselves out above the mud and threatening to fall into it – as some have done; dirt-besmeared walls and decaying foundations, every repulsive lineament of poverty, every loathsome indication of filth, rot, and garbage…” Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist.

A house move on the horizon means some changes to the current plans for Basilica Fields. Don’t worry, this journal isn’t going to disappear into the ether or grind to a halt, nor am I instead going to take up a new hobby knitting my own slippers, but the intention to build Artillery Lane as the first segment of Basilica Fields is now under intense scrutiny.

None of the potential new houses we’ve looked at so far have an outbuilding large enough to house the scenic segment of AL and I don’t really want to go down the road of constructing such a building just yet. All have a larger workshop space than I already enjoy, and would see me up and running in the day job again very quickly.

The change means that this journal will at last slip into the format which I had initially conceived; that being research on one segment (in this case Artillery Lane) will continue apace, while building of another segment (The Rookery) gets under way. In fact, initially I’ll be building just a portion of The Rookery, and not the whole shebang, but that’s all to come.

So, the next few posts will be dedicated to unpacking The Rookery before you, the research for which is mostly well in hand.

© Public Domain

The backs of houses at Collingwood Street, part of the Old Nichol Rookery, Bethnal Green. It’s obviously Monday morning with the washing on the lines, and a bathtub hangs from the eaves of the outbuilding in the distance. Lots of lovely chimneys and pantiles!

After the Great War all of this slum and more was swept away and the first post-World War One London County Council housing built on the site.