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Before Grenfell: A Hidden History

Residents of the community around Grenfell Tower tell an extraordinary story, 150 years in the making, of how their borough became the most unequal place in Britain.

When Grenfell Tower caught fire in June 2017, the disaster revealed a deep division between rich and poor in this part of west London. Now, residents of the community around the tower tell the extraordinary story, 150 years in the making, of how their borough became the most unequal place in Britain.

This film reveals little-known stories of how the divisions began, such as the building in the nineteenth century of a huge wall that still stands today. The wall was intended to separate the homes of the Victorian middle class from what was then the worst slum in London. Residents share their memories of the dramatic events that shaped their community - from exploitation by notorious landlord Peter Rachman in the 1950s to the first Notting Hill race riots and the construction of Grenfell Tower in the 1970s.

When Grenfell Tower opened in 1974, Britain was more equal than it has ever been, before or since. For the residents who moved in then, the tower was a symbol of hope for the future. But since Grenfell opened, we have become steadily more unequal, until today levels of income inequality are the same as they were in 1850. This is the untold story of a unique part of west London, revealing how its past has shaped its present.

59 minutes

Last on

Sun 30 Sep 2018 18:30

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:08

    Ella Fitzgerald & Chick Webb and His Orchestra

    If Dreams Come True

  • 00:16

    Lord Kitchener

    Dr Kitch

  • 00:20

    This Is the Kit

    Magic Spell

  • 00:25

    The Granville Williams Orchestra

    Hi Life (aka High Life)

  • 00:32

    Darrell Banks

    Open The Door To Your Heart

  • 00:38


    Box N Locks

  • 00:38

    Martha and the Muffins

    Echo Beach


Role Contributor
Interviewed Guest Eddie Adams
Interviewed Guest Velma Davies
Interviewed Guest Peter Deakins
Interviewed Guest Alison Du Cane
Interviewed Guest Leslie Du Cane
Interviewed Guest Niles Hailstones
Interviewed Guest Jacqui Haynes
Interviewed Guest Pat Matthews
Interviewed Guest Ishmael Murray
Interviewed Guest Virginia Sang
Interviewed Guest Rosalyn Sylvester
Interviewed Guest Laura Tansley
Interviewed Guest Allan Tyrrell
Interviewed Guest Robert Wallis
Narrator Danny John-Jules
Composer Mat Davidson
Colourist Ross Baker
On-line editing Nick Arthur
Re-recording mixer Gerrit Swanepoel
Sound Recordist Ian MacLagan
Director of photography Sam Ardley
Director of photography Johann Perry
Director of photography Patrick Smith
Director of photography Graeme Strong
Assistant Producer Sophie Perrins
Producer Amy Morgan
Line Producer Jane Greaves
Editor Tom Dixon-Spain
Editor Niels Bellinger
Executive Producer Alistair Pegg
Executive Producer Edmund Coulthard
Producer James Ross
Director James Ross
Production Company Blast! Films


  • Wed 13 Jun 2018 21:00
  • Fri 29 Jun 2018 00:50
  • Sun 30 Sep 2018 18:30