The Duke of Gloucester paid a visit to the young people involved in the Heritage of London Trust’s Proud Places programme at Bromley-by-Bow centre on Wednesday.
The group of young people helped to bring a damaged old Northumberland House Arch back to life. The arch had been damaged by a century of pollution in London. The restoration of the Georgian stone arch was a small part in a three-year programme with it’s sculpture being completed as well.
The programme at the centre helps encourage young individuals to engage with the local heritage around them, by undertaking restoration projects.
The programme is aimed at getting youngsters engaged with the community, including those excluded from school, who are in pupil referral units and not knowing how to get involved in the community.
“It’s about young people taking ‘ownership’ of their local heritage sites. They are making the connection that this is history for them, not just belonging to someone else,” Dr Nicola Stacey, Director of the trust said.
The neighbours were amazed at the restoration of the Northumberland Arch at the centre with its mythical face looking down on them.
Two 19-year-olds from Devon Fields from Custom House and Arnaud-William Mbaki from Beckton are members of the programme.Devon heard about the heritage programme through a Newham youth group and stated: “I didn’t really have an eye for history or restoring stuff before I came here. I’d just walk past and not really pay attention, but now I’ve got a creative mind.”
Arnaud-William revealed his frustration before getting involved: “It’s about being interested in these things but not knowing how to get into it, or knowing where to look for opportunities.”
The Duke of Gloucester is Patron of Heritage of London Trust, and as a trained architect, he takes a great interest in organisations working to protect or improve built environments.