To memorialise the local Italian Brummies that lost their lives on the Arandora Star, the ship sunk by a U-boat on the Atlantic, our students worked with Simon Linford in producing a commemorative plaque and information poster. This was unveiled in April to over 100 distant friends and relatives of the interred prisoners – all the way from Yorkshire, Scotland, France and Canada. They are now on permanent display in the Woodman Pub, one of the last remaining buildings from the area originally referred to the Italian Quarter.
Much of the archive material and oral history gathered from this event will be used to help inform the design of a larger physical intervention located on Eastside Park. What is apparent from speaking to those attending, the slum clearance of the back-to-backs was a significant factor in the dispersal of the italian community once the war was over. This housing typology, whilst noted as detrimental to the wellbeing of the residents, did galvanise them with a sense of place. The family structure were physically represented in the common courtyards that linked the houses together.
The slum clearance removed the built and cultural heritage which the community never truly recovered from.
Poster design: Gurveer Bachu. Words: Simon Linford
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