OWR exhibition

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Platform View – Visions of Peckham: exhibition 2nd-4th August 2012

in the Old Waiting Room off platform 3 Peckham Rye Station

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Peckham Vision held an exhibition about Peckham town centre in the Old Waiting Room in Peckham Rye station on 2nd – 4th August as a Peckham Rye Lane contribution to the Cultural Olympiad. From the Olympiad brochure: This is a collection of some of the thoroughly exciting events that are taking place in the ever-lovely Peckham over the time of London’s Olympics. We are a collective of organisations and individuals, all with the aim of creating and exhibiting artistic projects of Peckham. We hope to see some new faces in our spaces, enjoying the events and getting to know those that have made them happen. Details were in the brochure 'Peckham Cultural Olympiad', which gave individual contributors' websites for further details on timings of events and locations.

There was a non-stop stream of visitors to the 3 day exhibition: around 700 people all keen to know more about the Old Waiting Room, the station restoration, the new public square and the town centre generally. It is clear that there is local enthusiasm for the planned changes. An outline of the exhibition and what unfolded is below.

Exhibition photos

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Please see exhibition photo gallery on the three day experience.

Purpose of exhibition

The exhibition was the culmination of years of work on the part of some local residents and community groups. It took place with the agreement of Network Rail who own the space, and Southern Rail who manage the station which has the only current access to the Old Waiting Room. Local residents have been working to develop a new approach to the issues of Peckham town centre with some success – it is now recognised that:

  • the historic buildings scattered throughout the town centre are a significant asset and need to be restored to improve the feel of the townscape and to stimulate higher quality design and development.
  • the station is a key gateway to the town centre; sufficient funds have now been allocated to the Council to complete (by 2016) the restoration of the station and also transform its immediate surroundings.
  • the Bussey building and adjacent Copeland site are valuable parts of the town centre that need sensitive development to integrate the historic parts with new developments, and accesible spaces for creative enterprises.
  • the whole area of Network Rail land and property in and around the station and the adjacent land is in the ‘middle of the town centre’, and not on the fringe.
  • new creative industries have taken root in Peckham but redevelopment plans for the property owned by Network Rail, the Council and Copeland Industrial Park, in the central Rye Lane area, need to enable them to thrive.
  • there needs to be a joined up approach from within the Council on their town centre responsibilities, and new team-working between property and business owners and traders and others with an interest in the town centre.

The exhibition was designed:

  • to report, to the local community and others interested, on the next stages in the historic restoration work and some of the implications of this for the town centre and the fledgling creative industries;
  • to encourage local people to continue to develop their interest in these matters and to become involved in some way in the work;
  • to demonstrate the significant role that the Old Waiting Room could play, when managed by the community, as a focal point for Peckham town centre in all its different dimensions as a place of commerce, enterprise, community, leisure, entertainment, education, information and social life.

Thursday evening opening session

The exhibition opened on the first evening, with a gathering of over 200, with an introduction by Eileen Conn Peckham Vision co-ordinator. Benedict O’Looney, adviser to Peckham Vision and The Peckham Society, gave an inspiring talk illuminated with slides of Peckham's historic buildings. Andy Savage, Director of the Railway Heritage Trust, explained the strong support the Trust had for the community’s work on the station restoration and that, if Peckham Vision applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant to complete the Old Waiting Room restoration, the RHT would contribute 40% of the total. This proposal which was much appreciated is being followed up by Peckham Vision with the support of RHT.

Exhibition displays

The exhibition comprised a series of display panels, from Peckham Vision, the Peckham Society, Benedict O’Looney Architects, Southwark Council and Southern Rail; click below to see the details:

All the display panels are available in jpg and pdf form to view here: OWR exhibition displays.

Exhibition activities

The Peckham Society contributed its local history bookstall. There were several opportunities for visitors to record their own views, ideas and questions, and discuss them with fellow visitors and the team of volunteers. Children (and visitors of all ages) had a play area for them to draw and decorate some large cardboard buildings and express their thoughts in visual form. Light food and drinks refreshments were provided by local businesses who are very much part of the local town centre and adjacent neighbourhood area. Train passengers stumbled on the exhibition as they came through the station, and many others came seeking the magical space and were escorted through the station to and from Platform 3 by an enthusiastic team of Peckham Vision volunteers, throughout the three days.

A T-shirt and badge were produced for the exhibition. The T-shirt contained a design inspired by a detail from Charles Henry Driver's cast iron works at the station,and was worn by all the volunteers to identify them. The badge, available to all visitors for a donation, showed the slogan Look up in Peckham conveying the importance of looking above the ground floor level to see the beauty of the historic buildings, and the role of vision to help the community lift its spirits and aspirations.

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Comments and Feedback from Visitors

Visitors were invited to voice their thoughts about the town centre in a vox-pops corner, and were given an opportunity to write up their thoughts on a blackboard which was photographed when full and wiped clean for further comments. At the bookstall and near the entrance and exit door there was a circle of chairs and space to talk and to complete evaluation forms. The contributions on all of these have been collated and can be seen here: OWR exhibition feedback