Brick By Brick
There's more to White City's Bridget Joyce Square and its small walls than meets the eye. We spoke to the chair of White City Tenants and Residents' Association, Harry Audley, about its creation.
Passing through Bridget Joyce Square as an adult, you may not give it a second glance. You might look at the linear brickwork and presume it was merely decorative. You might clock the name and assume that Bridget Joyce was some figure from history. A suffragette, perhaps, or maybe some Victorian nobleman’s mistress. But see the space at the heart of White City Estate through a child’s – or indeed, a parent’s – eyes, and a playful local story emerges.
The square isn’t so much a detached public space as it is a link: one that provides a safe crossway between the Randolph Beresford Early Years Centre on side of Australia Road, and the White City Adventure Cafe that lives on the other. Both establishments are invaluable to the families in the W12 postcode, particularly considering that children make up a huge chunk of the area.
And that’s how what began as a routine roadworks maintenance morphed into a project that prioritised playfulness and beauty as well as safety. Harry Audley, who has served both as Chair of the White City Tenants and Residents' Association and Governor of Randolph Beresford Early Years Centre, was instrumental in pedestrianising the square.
“The primary idea was Michael Pettavel’s,” says Audley, referring to the head of the Early Years Centre. “The idea was, rather that just repairing a few paving stones, we could create a sort of campus.” The work would also replicate the small walls that children (and a few adults) liked to run along.
The two met with Michael Massella at London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, who began fundraising for the ambitious project. Over two years later, with help from the Mayor of London’s office, the project was finally fundraised. It wasn’t a walk in the park, either. Audley says: “There was an assumption that an expensive project like that in a council estate was a waste of money. They assumed the plants would get destroyed, vandalised, that kind of thing. There were never any formal complaints as such, but there was certainly a lot of chat questioning whether it was too much investment in a council estate.”
And yet despite these reservations, the Bridget Joyce Square idea – named after a much-loved long-term employee of the Early Years Centre – survived, and thrived. And today, if you take a stroll down Australia road at around noon, you can see it in action: kids walking, tight-rope style, along the brickwork, safely enjoying the “campus” effect that has been two years in the making.
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