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Film remembers rise and fall of Goresbrook Village ‘Legoland’ towers

PUBLISHED: 15:26 08 February 2015 | UPDATED: 11:54 10 February 2015

The Legoland film showing the iconic tower blocks before they were demolished.

The Legoland film showing the iconic tower blocks before they were demolished.

Archant

A new film looking at the Goresbrook flats through residents’ eyes received its world premiere last week. Mark Shales went along

Film maker Verity-Jane Keefe with councillors and local residents.Film maker Verity-Jane Keefe with councillors and local residents.

Love ’em or loathe ’em, the iconic high-rise flats of Goresbrook Village will be forever synonymous with the Dagenham skyline.

Originally opened as Castle Green estate in 1969, the bold use of colour on the three giant blocks led to the estate becoming affectionately known as Legoland.

Housing up to 700 people in their heyday, Bassett, Dunmow and Ingrave houses were eventually pulled down two years ago, to be replaced by a new housing development – Castle Green Place.

Gone but never forgotten, a new film about the estate by artist Verity-Jane Keefe, 34 – the woman behind the borough’s Mobile Museum – received its world premiere last week, in the ongoing construction site that once held the Village foundations.

Film-maker, Verity-Jane Keefe, has made a feature on the redevlopment of Goresbrook Village. Dagenham.Film-maker, Verity-Jane Keefe, has made a feature on the redevlopment of Goresbrook Village. Dagenham.

Legoland explores the hidden life of the flats and uses its demolition in 2013 as a backdrop to explore the wider context of regeneration.

The film, funded jointly by Barking and Dagenham Council, Countryside Properties (UK) Ltd, Erith Contractors Ltd with support from TRAD Scaffolding, features a narrative soundtrack of ex-residents and staff over high-definition footage of the demolition, the derelict interiors and construction of the new development, all shot over a two-year period.

Despite the sub-zero January temperatures, more than 200 former residents and individuals involved with the redevelopment enjoyed the screening.

Verity-Jane said: “It was a really enjoyable occasion to get all the former residents and those that worked on the site together – for many people it was their first time back.

Film goers at the Legoland film premiere.Film goers at the Legoland film premiere.

“It was quite nerve-wracking because it’s a very personal subject, this is somewhere where people lived and worked, but the reaction was brilliant.”

Loraine Pulham, 58, of Gidea Park, has worked for the council housing for the past 41 years and had an office in Basett House.

She found all the memories came flooding back through the film.

“It was quite an emotional experience,” she told the Post afterwards.

“Most people only knew it from site but I for many years.

“There was such a community spirit about the place – in that sense it was probably the place like it in the whole of the south east.”

Peterson Hinds, 52, from Romford worked as a concierge between 1993 and 2000 and like many others praised the community environment of the estate.

“Everyone would say hello to you,” he said. “Even now former residents will recognise me in the street and we’ll say have a chat.

“It was a brilliant machine that just seemed to work.

“People would always offer you dinner – if you wanted it you could easily have three roasts dinners every Sunday. At Christmas time we were absolutely inundated.”

A new development of 149 high quality three, four and five-bedroom houses alongside single and double-bedroom flats the first residents moved in to Castle Green Place during the summer of 2014.

Cllr Saima Ashraf and Cameron Geddes, cabinet members for housing and regeneration respectively, both praised the film on Monday.

Deputy leader Cllr Ashraf said: “The premiere of this important and historic film completes the end of the journey for an estate whose location so close to the A13 for many years made it a landmark for drivers as they journeyed in and out of the capital.”


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