Learning from ‘Doing it Ourselves’

Revealing the History of Walthamstow’s First Neighbourhood Co-operative Nursery

In the 1970s working parents struggled to find places in nurseries for their children. Today’s parents face a different set of challenges, not least the struggle to afford the cost of childcare. At Walthamstow’s First Neighbourhood Co-operative Nursery parents could work at the nursery in exchange for a reduced fee. Parent – members worked together to run the organisation and employ its staff.  The nursery became an important feature of the local community, helping working parents with affordable childcare, while involving them in the education of their children and creating deep, lifelong friendships.

Oral history not-for-profit On the Record has received a £9,600 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for Doing It Ourselves: The First Neighbourhood Co-operative Nursery, Walthamstow. Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project will record the history of this unique parent-led co-operative nursery and drop-in, led by a local parent and ex-member of the nursery, Eva Turner.

In 1977, childcare was a burning issue for working parents. A new toddler drop in was set up at Harmony Hall, Truro Road, E17 which gave space for parents to get together. It wasn’t long before they formed a parent co-operative to establish a nursery for under-fives. They found new premises at Verulam Avenue, Walthamstow, where it was based until the late 1980s. The nursery had a strong focus on innovative pre-school educational methods and provided training and employment opportunities for local parents.

Over the next year “Doing it Ourselves” will be collecting the memories of parents, staff and children involved in the nursery and starting an archive, to be held at Bishopsgate Institute in Liverpool Street. The project will culminate in an exhibition of collected material in local community centre The Mill and hold discussions and workshops, inviting local parents and children to contribute.

If you remember the nursery or are interested in becoming a volunteer researcher, photographer, archivist or in helping with project workshops and exhibitions, or for further information please contact On the Record: rosa@on-the-record.org.uk / 0785 322 8023

Notes for Editors

About Doing it Ourselves

  • Doing it Ourselves is a volunteer-led project supported by On the Record; a non-profit oral history co-operative specialising in amplifying the voices of those who have been hidden from history through workshops, trainings and creative productions, exhibitions, books, radio-shows and audiowalks.

 

  • Bishopsgate Institute will house the project’s archive. For over 120 years, Bishopsgate Institute has been a home for ideas and debate, learning and enquiry and independent thought.  We offer courses, workshops, talks and tours in subjects as diverse as London history, feminism, languages, Ballroom dancing, film studies, photography and creative writing. Our historic library, special collections and archives cover a variety of topics which explore radical, social, labour, feminist and gay history in London. The Institute is an oasis in the middle of a frantic city which provides you with the rare chance to explore, escape, research or relax.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

  • Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. hlf.org.uk. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLottery and #HLFsupported.

 

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