Author calls for better recognition of Ilford’s poor

Local author Richard Smith with pupils
Zaiba Adam, 9, and Praveen Vivinthas, 8, on a visit to Highl

Local author Richard Smith with pupils Zaiba Adam, 9, and Praveen Vivinthas, 8, on a visit to Highlands Primary School, Ilford, last year - Credit: Archant

Ilford’s poor and underprivileged deserve better recognition for their contribution to local history, according to a published children’s writer.

Richard Smith, 51, is asking people to nominate buildings or spots they feel mark the plight of the area’s destitute through history.

In the style of the blue plaques pinned to buildings where famous individuals once lived, the scheme could seek to place “People’s Plaques” on pavements and facades where once there were workhouses, prisons or asylums.

Mr Smith, author of Time Trap, a novel telling the story of two 13-year-old boys who travel back to 1862 and join a Victorian street gang, said: “I visited lots of places all over London whilst researching Time Trap.

“Again and again I was appalled at how people lived and were treated.

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“Britain had the biggest empire in history and a layer of British society made huge fortunes, but millions of others lived and died in awful squalor, most children died before their teens, and families lived from one meagre meal to the next.”

He went on: “The history of poor and destitute people in London has not been well served by historians. We have thousands of books about prominent Victorians and the royal family, but very few which relate the hellish reality of London for millions of people.”

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Born into a working class household, Mr Smith spent 30 years of his life living in Baden Road, Ilford.

He said: “We’re looking for places which resonate in some way with the lives and history or working class people.

“I am hoping ordinary people will take this up and make this campaign their own. We are not always the best at telling it, but this is the chance to tell our own story.”

After receiving the nominations Redbridge Council would be lobbied for support, Mr Smith added.

Submit your suggestions through Mr Smith’s website,

Read more:

Children’s author who grew up in Redbridge feeling ‘amazing’ after first book published

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