Capturing the community spirit and shared aspirations of the people of Low Hill in Wolverhampton a new book by the Low Hill Community Centre Group has been produced with images by photographer Nelson Douglas.
Built on 330 acres of land bought by the local council in the wake of a government push in 1924 the once rural landscape on the outskirts of the city was filled five years later with 2,000 new homes. The estate was built on ‘garden city’ ideals, with a cartwheel-style layout and generous gardens offering families plenty of light and air – a welcome change from the slums of the inner city.
Fast-forward through factory closures and redundancies, declining maintenance, the ‘right-to-buy’ scheme and structural problems it is clear the estate has had a lot to overcome. As Low Hill approaches its centenary it continues to evolve. The memories of those who have lived and worked there during the past century are captured in the book and aim to celebrate its past.
By using the community centre as a focal point Nelson, who has 10 years of documentary experience, took portraits of the people from the estate. “Being an outsider to this tightly knit community where individuals have considerable knowledge of each other, I tried to be open minded” comments Nelson.
In total the project has taken around five months and in this time Nelson got to hear the concerns of its residents. “Within the short period of time on the estate, we have managed to highlight the problems this community is facing: the lack of employment, the changing demographic, limited access to open spaces for children, and safety”. He adds.
“Like most small communities that are undergoing change within terms of ethnic migration, downturn in economic growth, lack of job security and a housing shortage, there is a fear that this community will be forgotten.”
An exhibition will include a collection of images curated in collaboration with key members of the Low Hill community center.
The book is available to buy online at blurb.co.uk/user/Nelson2000