Colin Grainger

Making a Home In Newham – Heritage Month is online in June

The history and diversity of people who have made Newham their home over hundreds of years of migration is the theme for Newham Heritage Month with an online programme of free activities throughout June.

Past Newham heritage and history celebrations over the last four years have lasted a week, ten days and two weeks. This year’s was originally planned for May. But the team getting it all together had to plan a quick rethink as our country was gripped by a pandemic the likes of which has never been seen before.

The Making a Home in Newham programme is being delivered in a different way because of the Covid-19 restrictions. But new activities will be published every day throughout the month on Newham History Month website, including live-streamed tours, workshops and singalongs, to help people discover more about and enjoy where they live.

Deputy Mayor for Community  Cllr Charlene McLean, Cabinet member for community neighbourhoods, said: “Newham Heritage Month is a fantastic opportunity for residents to celebrate the culture, diversity and heritage of those that have moved to the area throughout its long and rich history.

“People have been arriving to make a home here from as far back as the twelfth century to work in milling and farming at Stratford Langthorne Abbey monastery, and at the Grade 1 listed House Mill in Stratford in the eighteenth century. We are having to deliver our programme in a new and innovative way online, but we still have some wonderful free activities. I’d like to everyone involved for adapting and making it happen.”


  • The House Mill


Newham Heritage Month has brought together Newham Council, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and the Royal Docks Team, a joint initiative between the Mayor of London and the Mayor of Newham, to celebrate the cultural diversity, history, and creativity of residents of all ages. And the Heritage Newham – People, Places, Progress group is supporting the celebrations.

Justine Simons, London’s Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, said: “Coronavirus is having a huge impact on life, but it is great to see new and interesting ways are being found to engage audiences. Newham’s Heritage Month will be a celebration of its rich history and diversity, and shows the borough’s ongoing commitment to bringing culture to the community.”

As a taster of the activities ahead, the Newham Heritage Month website has been sharing heart-warming stories of residents about life in wartime and post-war Newham. These included Harry Cumberbatch MBE who arrived from Barbados in 1964. The stories also look back on VE Day celebrations  75 years ago. See previous articles on this website.

Other organisations involved in Newham Heritage Month include Caramel Rock, an educational charity in Canning Town, who will be sharing African textile design tips. The Shpresa Programme, a Plaistow-based organisation that promotes the contribution of the Albanian-speaking community, will play Albanian folk lullabies. and Heritage Newham.


Other activities to be included in the free online events programme are:

  • A live Zoom discussion with “honorary Bengali” Suresh Singh as he talks about his upbringing in Tower Hamlets and subsequent life in East Ham
  • Interviews with those who have made homes on the waterways of Channelsea River in Stratford, capturing a mix of under and above water sounds presented by Surge Cooperative
  • A whole family live reminiscence session in English and Cantonese from True Heart Theatre
  • A focus on Green Street heritage businesses including international fashion designer Mani Kohli who opened her first shop, Khubsoorat Collection, on nearby Plashet Grove in 1985; and Bhanji Gokaldas’ family who opened a jewellery shop on Green Street in 1975, which is now run by the third generation of the family. Both have played an important role to connect with traditions from home.

The daily heritage-focused activities and stories will be available on the website,, supported through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram social media channels using the hashtag #NewhamHeritageMonth.





Newham Council was awarded £83K worth of funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to launch Newham Heritage Month.

Newham Heritage Month will be themed Making a Home in Newham, to celebrate the diversity of Newham’s community through hundreds of years of migration attracted to work in milling and farming from as far back as the 12th century Stratford Langthorne Monastery, to the 18th century Grade 1 listed House Mill.

Pictures:  Khubsoorat Collection, Colin Grainger

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This article was written on 26 May 2020, and is filed under Heritage, Heritage Month, Heritage Newham, History, Making a Home in Newham.

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