Aberfeldy Street Murals

If you were to think of colourful London streets, you might imagine the pastel block colours of Notting Hill or Chelsea. But in East London, Aberfeldy Street has had an epic makeover.

Aberfeldy Street Murals

Aberfeldy Street

Aberfeldy Street is the High Street of the Aberfeldy Estate, an area decimated in the Second World War and rebuilt in the 1970s.

You might recognise the name Aberfeldy as a borough in Scotland. In fact, there’s loads of Scottish names in this part of Poplar because in 1823 it was bought by the Scottish Civil Engineer Hugh McIntosh, who had come to London to work on the construction of the city’s docks.

ABERFELDY STREET MURALS - before

Aberfeldy Street before the litres of paint got involved. Image from Google Street View.

Today, the street is overlooked by Balfron Tower and a new joint redevelopment plan from Poplar Harca and EcoWorld, named Aberfeldy Village.

A Colourful Makeover

In March, as a nation-wide Lockdown became inevitable, the shops and restaurants along Alberfeldy Street were dreading the loss of business.

In a bid to encourage people to shop locally where possible, Poplar Harca commissioned a new public artwork.

Aberfeldy Street Murals
Aberfeldy Street Murals

For six weeks during lockdown a team of 15 people worked on the project. The London Mural Company said 874 litres of paint and 300 spray cans were used. The entire project was only finished by the end of August.

Aberfeldy Street Murals

Designing the Aberfeldy Street Murals

The designs were planned in a joint venture by Jan Kattein Architects and Meanwhile Space. The patterns were inspired by local residents and business-owners who donated old clothes or textiles.

Mikey, who runs The People Speak, told me that he was surprised when his Psychedelic shirt made the cut!

Aberfeldy Street Murals
Aberfeldy Street Murals
Aberfeldy Street Murals

Aside from a nice way to involve the community, the idea is also part of the wider social history of the area. East London has been associated with garment manufacturing since the 18th century with Spitalfield’s silk. This later developed into the cheap, second hand clothes dealers, referred to the ’rag’ trade and was taken up by immigrants into East London like the Jews and later the Bengali community.

Aberfeldy Street Murals

In Tower Hamlets today there is a high proportion of residents originally from Bangladesh and Pakistan and in that region there’s a tradition of ‘kantha’, recycling sections of embroidery and stacking them together to make a thin cushion.

Aberfeldy Street Murals

Local Fame

As well as the stencilled and hand painted designs, there’s also a portrait mural from one of the most famous Street Artists in the world.

Tommy Flowers, Jimmy C ABERFELDY STREET MURALS

This is Tommy Flowers, painted by Jimmy C. He worked at Bletchley where he developed and built Colossus, the first programmable, electronic, digital computer.

Aberfeldy Street Murals

The portrait is taken from a photograph of Flowers which is thought to have been taken around the time he was working at Bletchley Park. It’s placed on the side of the Tommy Flowers pub.

Why here? He was born at 160 Abbott Road, a stone’s throw from here.

Aberfeldy Street Murals

More Street Art in progress on the corner of Aberfeldy Street and Dee Street

So will they improve footfall? Or is it all a bit of a gimmick from developers? When I spoke to some residents and business owners they said they enjoyed the new colourful murals on the whole but felt it was still very quiet and that it wouldn’t make much difference. Still, It’s nice to feel a renewed sense of pride for your neighbourhood right? Let me know what you think of them!

Visit the Aberfeldy Street Murals

You can visit Aberfeldy Street and admire the colourful murals any time. It’s in Poplar, E14 and the easiest way to get there is by DLR. It’s a short walk from Langdon Park, All Saints or East India.

Aberfeldy Street Murals

If you fancy discovering more about East London’s vibrant history, you can join my “Spirit of Spitalfields” tour. Find out more here.

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5 Comments

  • Patricia Taylor

    Reply

    Today’s posting lifted my heart and spirits. It’s beautiful and should be shown across the world – probably already is ?
    Thank you for allowing me to see something so inspiring in these difficult times .

    September 30, 2020 at 8:58 am
  • I love this makeover! Far too many streets are grey and drab and all the same, that aplies to most bigger cities. Some municipalities even have rules against too bright colors for buildings. I feel cheered up by color, so I’m all for projects like this, and the patterns just add to the appeal!

    September 30, 2020 at 9:15 am
  • Im So Glad I found you today ,by default, What a little diamond you are. Im a follower of Damien Hewetson. Brilliant” London in Lockdown “Photographer Please check him out, I’m sure you will fall under his Magic. I wanted information regarding Street Gaslamps ladeda and there you were. Looking forward to losing myself amongst your Webpages. My Facebook Name is Rusty Latrine…. from my Stand Up Comedy Back in the Days so, Greetings Take Care and Keep Safe Suz

    October 8, 2020 at 3:23 pm
  • What a Great Makeover bringing colour to the streets and Miles of Smiles to the public, once we get the All Clear, its going to take time , but as soon as we hear the word…. the hustle and bustle with all its madness, will return, not as before but with a much better understanding of humanity. Take Care and Keep Safe

    October 8, 2020 at 3:49 pm

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