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Arnold Circus

In 1886 Charles Booth embarked on an ambitious plan to visit every one of London's streets to record the social conditions of residents. His project took him 17 years.

Once he had finished he had constructed a groundbreaking series of maps which recorded the social class and standing of inhabitants. These maps transformed the way Victorians felt about their capital city.

This series takes six archetypal London streets as they are now, discovering how they have fared since Booth's day.

Booth colour coded each street, from yellow for the 'servant-keeping classes' down to black for the 'vicious and semi-criminal'. With the aid of maps, the series explores why certain streets have been transformed from desperate slums to become some of the most desirable and valuable property in the UK, whilst others have barely changed.

This landmark series features residents past and present, exploring how what happened on the street in the last 125 years continues to shape the lives of those who live there now.

Charles Booth's vast 1886 Survey of London ranks each one of London streets according to the class

The sixth episode features Arnold Circus in the East End and the story of a Victorian social experiment that changed Britain. Arnold Circus is home to the first council estate, which opened in 1896. The planning of the estate, from its lack of pubs to the pattern of the brickwork, was deliberate in order to make its residents respectable, as previously the land had played host to a notorious crime-ridden slum.

Featuring compelling accounts from residents both past and present, this is the story of how Arnold Circus made the difficult journey from feared underclass to a self-respecting community; of how it became and still is a haven in heart of the City.

Release date:

1 hour

Last on

Thu 8 Dec 2016 00:45


Role Contributor
NarratorSteven Mackintosh
DirectorChris Durlacher
WriterChris Durlacher
ProducerBrian Hill
Series ProducerKatie Bailiff

Go to the OU website for more about the Secret History of Our Streets: Scotland