Barbican@50 Festival brings residents together


Autumn is here. When I’m asked whether I want the bad news or the good news first, I always choose the bitter pill first so I’ll stick with that order here.

Robert Barker passed away in August. You will certainly know Robert if you came to any of the Barbican Association meetings.  He was very active for many years across the board on our committees and campaigning. He only started to take it a little easier over the last year.

Robert was a wheelchair user and a Lauderdale Tower resident and was often out and about. Somehow, I would meet him under the Beech Street tunnel every time I was coming back with fish and chips.  Every time, I kid you not! You can’t easily hide a Kennedy’s supper for four behind your back!

The cold weather didn’t deter him and out came his cosy fleece beanie. His cycling gloves were also indispensable gear all year round. He took my budding photographer eldest daughter under his wing one weekend and traipsed all around the estate to introduce her to all the best shot spots.

Robert knew the Barbican backwards and the City’s workings inside out. He was a very special resident and gave much of himself to our community. I regret that I never went to visit him before it was too late, but here’s to you, Robert, from us all.

We have also lost another long-time resident, William Howard, recently. William was a member of our Barbican Horticultural Society, and an active chairman for a few years.

His are the magnificent ‘hanging gardens of the Barbican’ window-boxes on the west side of Gilbert House. He is a legend in our gardening circles and many of our beautiful boxes owe themselves to his enthusiasm and encouragement.

Very sad to lose such long-standing and pivotal personalities. Both were strong characters and have made a remarkable and material difference to our estate over their residencies here.

I like to think that Rob and William would join me in congratulating everyone involved with the Barbican@50 Festival which went so well this weekend at St Giles Cripplegate Church.

Inside the church was full of stalls including: the Barbican Association’s SOS Barbican, book signings by John Foley (The Bear in the Fifth Floor Flat, with profits to Mencap) and Julia Chalkley (Zarafa – A Beautiful Gift for a King).

Local art was also on show: Tamara Tolley, Gillian Laidlaw, Craft and Conservation, Janet Wells, Emma Louise Holloway, Barbican Arts Society, and the late Basil Goode. Other stalls included Age Concern and the Charterhouse.

Tales of Cripplegate presented a Journey in Time, with a photographic history exhibition by A London Inheritance and Ancestreemakers.  Resident Fiona Meyringer also delighted us with piano performances during the afternoon.

Out on the terrace we could fill our faces with coffee and cakes from Giddy Up, savoury pickings from our resident family of chefs Short Eats, or Mr Creamy ice creams. We also immersed ourselves in the ’50s and ’60s with Rock ’n’ Roll Dance classes and demonstrations with the Paris Rock Club.

In the Thomas More Garden, Jules Waite educated us with a Bug Hunt based on London Wildlife Trust’s family events which Jules helps organise.

In the evening, Sarah Hudson escorted guests on a Bat Walk through the estate’s gardens with bat detectors.

The small army of volunteers and organisers deserve a round of applause for all their planning and perseverance; they have been working on this project for months now so well done to everyone involved.

Back to the regular events now, and the campaign continues against the expansion of the City of London Girls’ School.

It is to be expected that their official planning request will be submitted soon and we can only hope some compromise can be reached. Your signatures will help us in our campaign, so please support us at

The Barbican Estate Residents’ Consultation Committee met at the beginning of this month.

In regard to the storage lockers in the car parks, we’ll probably only allow half of them to be rented by non-residents (who live close-by) down the line, but there is a current cap of 25% in place.

A worrying increase in concerns over anti-social behaviour on the estate (along with a lack of visible policing due to cuts) will probably trigger a request to House Groups to keep a record of incidents. I suppose this is to collect statistics to formulate a policy. The BA Security Committee will be looking at a logging mechanism at their next meeting.

A shockingly low 336 responses were received to this year’s Resident Survey and the only silver lining on this for me is that everyone praised Michael Bailey, the Estate Office’s receptionist.  No surprise there – he’s a gem!

I find that there is a continuing lack of transparency on service charges which worries me, but I have faith that the Service Charge Working Party is keeping a watchful eye on costs and efficiency.

They did a thorough review earlier this year and have made some good recommendations to improve processes.

One of the improvements involves those forms we fill in when a repair is completed.

It was reported that not many forms were returned, so they are huddling to think of a better way to ensure more responses reach the BEO after the work is done.

Blake Tower was due to come into the BEO family this month but there are a number of defects which need fixing up so that date has moved out to the 18 October.

There was some talk about making access to (and information about) defibrillators more readily available.

Currently (just as an FYI update) we have defibrillators in the following locations locally: Barbican Tube, Lauderdale Tower, City of London Girls’ School, Citypoint, Citypoint Club, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Moor Place, Moorgate Tube, and the Museum of London.

Lastly, there is a discussion starting about how money is spent on the public areas on the estate; Beech Gardens was expensive but is already showing signs of dilapidation and other areas of the estate are also quite crummy.  Fingers crossed we can get some positive action on maintenance.

Residents, you should have received your September issue of Barbican Life by now. We scheduled it to hit letterboxes just before the Festival Day, as a reminder.

If you haven’t received it, then contact [email protected] (or find us via your House Rep) and we’ll put that right.

Next Barbican Association (BA) meeting is 14 November, while the next Residents’ Consultation Committee (RCC) meeting is on 2 December.

If you have any spare time, please get involved with your House Group and the BA. We are always looking for new volunteers and there is lots to keep us all busy. Please get in touch if you need any more information.

Helen Hudson has lived in Defoe House on and off since the 1970s and keeps us up to date on resident news and committees.