A time capsule celebrating the past, present and future of the Gascoigne neighbourhood in Barking has been buried by Gascoigne Primary School and members of the local community following an art project led by Wates Residential, alongside Boathouse Studios and Art Collective, with over 120 pupils contributing.

More than 40 people including Jennie Coombs, Head of Affordable Housing at Be First, and Councillors Dominic Twomey and Saima Ashraf, Deputy Leaders of Barking and Dagenham Council, joined students, teachers and Wates at an event to mark the burial and showcase the items chosen to go into the capsule.

27 pupils from Gascoigne Primary School helped to bury the time capsule, and the location has been shared with the local library. Submissions included artwork, objects, photographs, letters, poems and audio recordings, with pupils and residents from the neighbouring area speaking about the items they had chosen, reflecting on why they were special to them and why they would be important for future generations. Jean, a local resident who has lived on the estate for 74 years and previously acted as Chair of the Tenants Association, said to the children as she placed her letter into the capsule: “Remember how lucky you are, this is all for you. But also remember, community is not about one person, it’s about all of us.”

The school has been working with the Boathouse Studios and Art Collective to create the submissions which were centred around the theme ‘My Dream Barking’. Some children wrote about their dreams for a fair, welcoming society in the borough, while others drew pictures of their dream homes surrounded green spaces and wildlife, with one pupil Maryam saying she hoped to live in one of the new homes on the estate in future. The artworks not included in the capsule will decorate the hoardings near Hardwicke Street, so that the local community can continue to appreciate the work.

Part of Wates Group, one of the UK’s leading construction, property services and residential development companies, Wates Residential was appointed by Be First in 2019 to regenerate the west side of the former 1960s estate, which will drastically increase the number of new homes available for local people. Phase One of the west side of the Gascoigne redevelopment will see 200 homes delivered and is due to be completed in April this year. The second phase, which was awarded to Wates in April 2021, will see a further 386 much-needed homes built.

The scheme promises to not only deliver crucial housing, but also wider benefits for local people. As part of the project has Wates made a commitment to the borough to recruit a minimum of 20% local workforce, create at least 20 new jobs for local people and address the construction industry skills shortage with an education programme that will run throughout local primary and secondary schools, as well as colleges.

Last year, Wates launched a set of ‘Top Trumps’ style playing cards with Greatfields School, in Barking, to help explain the wide variety of roles available in construction and to encourage more young people into the industry.

Adrian Fennessy, Operations Director at Wates Residential, said:

“The Gascoigne West development is a flagship project that promises to create a lasting legacy for the Barking community. The burying of the time capsule was a moment to reflect on the site’s history, and at the same time look forward to a better, greener estate. Not only will the development see top quality, affordable homes built for local people, our investment in education, skills and training is also creating opportunities for residents who currently face barriers to employment.”

Councillor Dominic Twomey, Deputy Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said:

“This is a really wonderful project which preserves our young people’s memories for decades to come. The future of the new Gascoigne is bright with great new homes built to last for today’s, tomorrow’s and many generations to come.”

Jade Davidson, Teacher at Gascoigne Primary School, said:

“The time capsule event provides a wonderful opportunity for our pupils at Gascoigne Primary School to share their aspirational ideas and vision about their ideal future for Barking. This is linked to our Learning Mission ‘Developing an understanding of Fairness and Equality’. The event will enable our pupils to finish the topic with an encapsulating and memorable experience in their learning, leaving a piece of themselves in history and a mark for our future generations’.

Be First London