So when we moved into the estate in 1976, all the families were of a similar kind of, way in a sense, you know, they were from similar backgrounds. We had, the women would have been working as dinner ladies, the guys would have been as electricians, my dad was a carpenter. The local pubs were really, really busy. There was the Sutton Arms on the corner, the Arundel Arms, the Army & Navy, and, there was a certain community, really big community of similar type people. There wasn’t really any, say, would be classed as intellectual or middle class, upper middle class; people with beards as much, this kind of thing, there wouldn’t be people that would stand out as a bit different and a bit, creative or arty or a bit, you know, this kind of thing, so and so. Centerprise always had that kind of thing. And again it wasn’t noticeable really, it was just as if that’s there, that’s Centerprise, and it didn’t stand out. Because it wasn’t overpowering, it wasn’t so kind of, big, you know, it wasn’t… You’d just go past, there might be someone there with a polo neck, a beard on, you know, a beard, wearing, and just talking quite posh. I mean, we knew, people knew that was Centerprise. And everywhere else, there was caffs, and people, down Ridley Road was just packed full of the fruit sellers, and, the women would be talking to each other and they’ve be pulling, everyone had a trolley, you know. And then you’d get to Centerprise, and it would be a little bit different. Just be, yeah, people in there, the women working in there were West Indian, older women, but some of the clientele, some of the food was even a bit different, the quiche, and beetroot, things like, you know, beetroot and a bit of couscous or something. And salad. No one was eating salad, well, not in 1976. [laughs]
Gary Molloy is a local Hackney artist and poet. As a child in 1976 he moved onto an estate just across the road from Centerprise. He was very aware of Centerprise from the outside but only started to spend much time there in the early 1990s as he became interested in poetry and would go in to read. He talks about why some of the local community may not have felt comfortable visiting Centerprise and how it stood apart as a ‘strange’ place to some. He discusses the regeneration of the area from the arrival of the Turkish community to the more recent influx of middle class ‘arty’ people. He strongly recalls all the shops, pubs and cinemas that were a stone’s throw from Centerprise and also the activism stemming from Sandringham Road, known then as the ‘Frontline’. His Centerprise memories are focused on food and his retelling of the local area transports you to the Hackney of the 1970s and 1980s.
Interviewed by Olivia Bellas