Pensioner Daisy has chinwag with Duke of Kent about her time during the Blitz
- Credit: Gateway Housing
Pensioner Daisy Wood bent the ear of the Duke of Kent about the Blitz when he turned up to mark the 90th anniversary of one of the oldest housing associations in London’s East End.
Daisy recalled sheltering under the railway arches of Millwall Park on the Isle of Dogs during the nightly German air-raids 76 years ago.
The Duke was fascinated by her recollections as he joined her down Memory Lane in a place that was heavily bombed in the war.
He cut the robbon to launch Gateway Housing’s The Place We Call Home exhibition at the Mile End Ecology Pavilion yesterday, before it goes on tour.
The exhibition celebrates the people and places that make the East End “a vibrant and diverse community” with an art installation and stories of unsung heroes who campaigned for change and kept the home fires burning during the Second World War.
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“I can tell that a lot of commitment and passion has gone into this project,” the Duke remarked.
“What struck me is that the things that have made this area historically unique, its dynamism, character and diversity, remain very much unchanged. It is clear that the East End has a very exciting future.”
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He was speaking in the week the East End marked the 90th anniversary of the famous Battle of Cable Street when Jewish and Irish communities and Communist activists stopped Mosley’s fascist Blackshirts marching through Whitechapel in 1936.
The Duke of Kent’s father, Prince George, visited east London the following year when he formally opened Gateway’s Lennox House in Hackney which was the start of slum-clearance in the inter-war years. The design was ahead of its time.
The present Duke of Kent reopened Lennox House after renovations in 1984.
Gateway Housing’s 90th anniversary exhibition gives space for tenants to tell their own stories through a short film and photographs.
The Duke met some of the tenants like Daisy Woodard, telling her story about the Blitz when the London Docks and the Isle of Dogs was bombed night after night by the Luftwaffe for several months.
Sheron Carter, Gateway’s chief executive, said: “We wanted to reflect on our history at a time when many people misunderstand the work of social housing.
“But this isn’t just about Gateway—the story we’re telling is the East End and its people speaking for themselves.”
The exhibition opened in Spitalfields today at the Brick Lane Gallery, 216 Brick Lane, running until Sunday, before it goes on tour round Tower Hamlets Idea Stores until March.