Bea Samuel, 1970s

“…living the dream in the Market Estate…”

Beatrice (an imaginary character) lived in the first housing estate built on the old market site.

Show transcript

What does ‘home’ mean to you? For me it’s somewhere you can feel comfortable, feel safe to bring up your children, and feel happy to come back to at the end of the day.

Yeah. Homes are what build families. If you haven’t got a home, you haven’t got much, really.

I’m Beatrice, by the way, or just ‘Bea’ to my friends. I used to live just on the other side of those park gates, in what was the Market Estate. My mum and I were some of the first to move in once they were built back at the end of the 60’s.

The sixties!…It was the years of the space race, talk of rockets to the moon…. Things were changing so fast, with everyone dreaming of the future. People say the Market Estate was rubbish, but when it was new it looked like somewhere that Buck Rogers might live. You know…the spaceman.

Everyone wanted to live in a place like that. We moved from a dark little bedsit on the Holloway Road with rooms where you couldn’t move once you had the furniture in, no bathroom and an outside toilet that never worked. Market Estate had big rooms, big windows…a view for heaven’s sake…that was something new.

And it was just wasteland anyway…the old market and the old slaughterhouses were growing weeds by then. London didn’t need a cattle market, not in the sixties, it needed homes that didn’t get damp and weren’t built on the cheap.

So yeah, I know Market Estate didn’t end well. Our little slice of the future ended up being one of London’s derelict estates. It turned out that Buck Rogers didn’t want to live here after all, ‘cos the corridors and walkways became ratty, and the graffiti was something awful, and there were all sorts of nasty types in the Park at night.

But the basic idea was right – space to live, space to play. My mum and I stuck it out…a lot of us did. Nobody was that sad when the old Market Estate got torn down after 40 odd years, and they put up a different type of home. I was gone by then, but I still come back to look at the old place sometimes, to remember how we thought the future was going to be.