The Secret History of our Streets – continues on BBC2 tonight, 9pm

Camberwell Grove

In 1886 Charles Booth embarked on an ambitious plan to visit every one of London’s streets to record the social conditions of residents. His project took him 17 years.

Once he had finished he had constructed a groundbreaking series of maps which recorded the social class and standing of inhabitants. These maps transformed the way Victorians felt about their capital city.

This OU/BBC series takes six archetypal London streets as they are now, discovering how they have fared since Booth’s day.

Booth colour coded each street, from yellow for the ‘servant keeping classes’, down to black for the ‘vicious and semi-criminal’. With the aid of maps the series explores why certain streets have been transformed from desperate slums to become some of the most desirable and valuable property in the UK, whilst others have barely changed.

This landmark series features residents past and present, exploring how what happened on the street in the last 125 years continues to shape the lives of those who live there now.

Today, Camberwell Grove is an elegant oddity – a broad, leafy street of fine Georgian houses set in the seething inner city.

The street has come full circle, from middle-class prosperity to tight-knit working-class community and back to middle-class affluence again. Through the lively, often passionate accounts of residents past and present the film tells the story of the changing faces of this remarkable street and the people who have lived in and loved its beautiful houses. These stories also reveal how the fate of the Grove was intimately bound up with the monstrous growth of the Victorian city of London and the birth of the modern conservation movement.

Tonight is the second of six episodes being shown on BBC2 at 9pm on Wednesdays and is available on iPlayer.

Historic Map Available from The Open University

Order your free 16-page booklet, with folding historic map from Charles Booth and fascinating stories behind the streets in five UK cities.

Get your free secret street guide from The Open University

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The Arts Faculty of The Open University is a world leader in supported Open Learning, and one of the best institutions in the world for arts and humanities. You can follow us on Twitter @OUArtsFaculty and on Facebook.
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