Undercurrents: 100 years of Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus has undergone significant change in the past 100 years. How has this affected the lives and livelihoods of local people?

Audio Published 23 December 2021 Updated 31 January 2022 66 minute listen

For this bonus episode of Undercurrents, the team explore the history of Piccadilly Circus with help from the Chatham House SNF CoLab. The CoLab is a project which aims to share our ideas in experimental, collaborative ways - and to learn how different audiences think we can design a better future. In 2020, the project launched Futurescape, an ambitious re-imagining of Piccadilly Circus in 100 year’s time.

Alongside the future-oriented research, CoLab partnered with the Museum of London’s Listening to London project. Through this project, the museum is inviting teams of volunteer researchers to reinterpret their Oral History Collection – over 5,000 hours of recorded life-story interviews of Londoners. Listening to London is supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, delivered by the Museums Association.

In this episode you’ll hear some fascinating clips from the Listening to London archive, introduced and discussed by some of the volunteers working on the Museum of London project. They include the experiences of Italian and Albanian immigrants, the changing face of business in the area, and how it became a site of struggle for the LGBTQ+ community. Thanks to Museum of London volunteers Lorraine Ebdo-Price, Kristyna Racova and Keith Turpin for their contributions.