On June 11th 2022, Tradeswomen Building Bridges delegates had an extraordinary day in the London Borough of Islington. We split into three groups for two different Heritage Walks and a curated tour of Holloway Prison.
The heritage walks were led by Islington Councilors Diarmaid Ward and David Poyser, who gave a detailed background of social housing in Islington, as shaped by and influence to architecture for over two hundred years.
Each group had the sobering and deeply moving opportunity to be the last members of the public allowed to tour the Holloway Prison prior to its demolition. The prison has a long history of housing suffragettes, environmental activists, and advocates for nuclear disarmament. In recent years, it became an important source of health and human services for women who had slipped through the cracks in society. In 2016 the prison was closed and the land was slated to be used for housing.
Tradeswomen Building Bridges partnered with Reclaim Holloway, a Coalition fighting for the Holloway site to be used for collective good, for this delegation. The group is particularly interested in the establishment of a women’s building to honor Holloways legacy. Another partner, community Plan for Holloway, is an independent campaign working to ensure that the Islington community is at the heart any plans for the redevelopment of Holloway prison. TBB believes it is important that women are involved in the planning, as well as the physical building of this new development.
The entire TBB Delegation reconvened for midday refreshments and review of social justice, art, and cultural works from Reclaim Holloway and Community Plan for Holloway (CP4H) at St. Luke’s Church, culminating at 4pm with a presentation from Caitlin Davies, author of Bad Girls: a history of rebels and renegades, about those women incarcerated in the Prison over a 150-year period.
As tradeswomen from Alaska to Norway and beyond, we are steadfast with the community leaders to assure follow-though for 60% affordable housing on the site, including 42% social housing so that a minimum 415 of new 985 housing units are inhabited by the populations who need housing in the borough. Furthermore, we emphasize the stark need for a Women’s Building to fulfill the needs of the community, and that these infrastructures provide opportunity for the work on the site to be performed by women in the trades. The transformative healing of this work, built by women, of women, and for women is essential to the purpose of our mission.