Roman Road’s Year in Review 2016

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2016 has certainly been a memorable year in history, and a busy year for our local neighbourhood of Roman Road, Bow, too.

From the launch of the Yard Market to ‘probably the best Santa’s Grotto in the East End’, as well as digital training camps and our biggest summer festival yet, it’s been a busy twelve months for the Roman Road Trust.

In our Year in Review 2016 we look back at all that was achieved, and if you want to know more about how this fits into our wider community-led regeneration plans, have a look at Roman Road Trust’s aims and objectives here.

Roman Road Trust relies on grants and sponsorship and the projects below could not have happened without the generous support of London Borough of Tower HamletsCanary Wharf GroupGMB UnionLoveboxVeoliaCircle HousingRiney, and Attic Self Storage.


A fresh design for Roman Road website

Roman Road London website
Roman Road London website redesign with new events functionality.

To kick of New Year 2016, Roman Road Trust used the prize money from the Great British High Street awards to fund the redesign of the Roman Road London website including a new functionality enabling us to easily list, manage and promote local community events. The Roman Road London website issues occasional newsletters about local news and events – click here to sign up to the Roman Road newsletter.

Survey of local businesses

Infographic of Roman Road business survey
Infographic of Roman Road business survey

In January, Roman Road Trust also organised a survey of local businesses to find out how best the Roman Road Trust could support local shopkeepers and traders, with a fun infographic to show the results. Over 300 shop keepers and market traders were personally invited to take the survey and 100 completed it. See the full infographic here.


Launch of Roman Road Neighbourhood Forum

Inaugural public meeting of Roman Road Neighbourhood Forum and Plan, East London
Andy Belfield presenting at Inaugural public meeting of Roman Road Neighbourhood Forum and Plan, East London

February saw the inaugural community meeting kickstart plans for a proposed Roman Road Neighbourhood Forum & Plan. Over 60 local residents and businesses attended the meeting at St Paul’s Church and 58 signed up to join the Forum.

New website for Roman Road Neighbourhood Forum

Roman Road Neighbourhood Plan and Forum website
New website for Roman Road Neighbourhood Plan and Forum website

Roman Road Trust raised funds to design and launch of website to support the Roman Road Neighbourhood Plan. If you’re interested the idea of shaping your own neighbourhood, you can join the Neighbourhood Forum here.


Launch of Roman Road Yard Market pilot

Crowds of shoppers at community market on Roman Road East London
The launch party for Roman Road Yard Market at the Roman Road car park

In March, Roman Roman Trust launched the new Roman Road Yard Market on the Roman Road car park. This six month pilot was agreed in partnership with the local authority to help attract a greater variety of traders and shoppers to the road, with the aim of benefiting both the existing street market and local shops. Over 4,000 attended and feedback showed an average spend of £17 per head, generating over £68,000 spend.


Video for Roman Road Yard Market

Roman Road Trust created a promotional video of Roman Road Yard Market to help raise the profile of the new market and to attract new destination visitors to the road.


Seminal Suffragettes article

Black and white photograph of Sylvia Pankhurst
Portrait of Sylvia Pankhurst

Roman Road Trust commissioned local writer Amy Freeborn to write a seminal feature on Roman Road’s link to the Sylvia Pankhurst and the East London Federation of Suffragettes. This online article will help put Roman Road on the online Suffragettes map.


Queen’s Birthday Tea street party

Queens Birthday Tea party on Roman Road in Bow, East London
The Queen’s Birthday Tea was a traditional East End street party with lot of cake and tea

In June, Roman Road Trust organised the Queens’ Birthday Tea celebrations held on the Roman Road car park. It attracted over 2,000 local people and raised £472 for local charities, Woodcraft Folk and Bow Food Bank.


Roman Road Festival 2016

An extraordinary 12,000 visitors came to Roman Road Festival 2016, which featured live music all day, Urban Makers East designer-maker fair, street entertainment, hot food and drink. It was a platform for dozens of community organization who contributed to the production, music, arts and entertainment. The event was recommended in Time Out, The Telegraph, Last Minute, Londonist and several local publications.


Soil Association organic food market

Organic September blackboard at street market
Soil Association’s Organic September event was held at Roman Road Yard Market

Despite the all-day rain, 2,000 visited Soil’s organic food market at the Roman Road. Market stalls included organic food brands such as Clipper Tea, Kallo and Seeds of Change setting up on Roman Road.


POW Digital Camp

Woman holding iPhone filling in forms in coffee shop
Free Social Media MOTs for shop owners as part of POW Digital Camp Roman Road

In response to the survey of local businesses in January, Roman Road Trust brought POW Digital Camp to Roman Road. This week long programme provided free digital marketing training, workshops and mentoring to Roman Road businesses. Nearly 20 businesses received one-to-one mentoring from local digital experts and another 100 businesses received Social Media MOTs. The programme included a Youth Ambassador programme that offered valuable work experience to three local schoolchildren from Central Foundation School.

Boundary submitted for Neighbourhood Plan

Also in October, following eight months of consultation, the application for the proposed area for the Roman Road Neighbourhood Plan boundary was submitted to the Council’s planning team.


Festive lighting on the car park

Roman Road Christmas Fair market with fairy lights in the trees
Festoon lighting and fairy lights on trees in the car park

As part of Roman Road Trust’s commitment to ‘animating’ the high street, reserve funds were used to buy and install permanent festive lighting around the Roman Road car park and in the trees. This will benefit all future community events held on the site.


Roman Road Christmas Fair 2016

Santa's Grotto and his elves at Roman Road Christmas Fair 2016
Santa in his Grotto and his two elves at Roman Road Christmas Fair 2016

A festive 5,000 people came to the Roman Road Christmas Fair, held on the Roman Road car park and featuring ‘probably the best Santa’s Grotto in the East End’. This community event involved 1 x local school choir, 3 x community choirs, 2 x community stalls.

Campaign to save commercial unit

538-540 Roman Road large commercial unit, formerly Shoe World
Formerly Shoe World Roman Road

Also in December Roman Road Trust launched a campaign to object to a planning application on 560 Roman Road (formerly Shoe World) that would have resulted in the loss of nearly half the retail space. Thanks to the overwhelming support from the community, the campaign was successful and the planning application was withdrawn.

Plans for 2017

In 2017 Roman Road Trust plans to deepen its partnership with the local authority; raise funds for more markets and a series of community events, and develop new ways to celebrate our radical local heritage. To receive updates on our projects as well as local news and advents, sign up to our occasional newsletter here.

To apply for the role of Non-Exec Campaign Director at Roman Road Trust.