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Historians are all ears when it comes to past

PUBLISHED: 11:20 23 December 2005 | UPDATED: 10:25 07 September 2010

KING'S Cross may be facing a £2billion overhaul in the New Year - but one group is working hard to preserve its past. Oral historians Alan Dein and Leslie McCartney are putting together the King's Cross Voices Project to document the area s

Katie Davies

KING'S Cross may be facing a £2billion overhaul in the New Year - but one group is working hard to preserve its past.

Oral historians Alan Dein and Leslie McCartney are putting together the King's Cross Voices Project to document the area's history by recording interviews with hundreds of residents.

The idea is to create a "living memory" of the area looking at families of up to three generations and how they got there.

Mr Dein explained: "Due to the railway, there are so many communities and voices in King's Cross, from traditional cockneys to people who have moved here from other parts of the country and the world. It's amazing how many people just got a train and stopped there."

The pair also want to use the project to tackle the "stereotyped and negative" view of the area.

"People think of drugs and prostitutes or that it's just a point of arrival and departure," said Mr Dein. "We are trying to put the other side of King's Cross. The negative view is not the reality for people who live and work here."

The project is due to be completed by 2007 - a year before King's Cross developers Argent will start work provided plans are approved by Camden Council.

And since the large scale nature of the redevelopment will lead to a huge change in the community, there seems no better time to document those currently there.

Mr Dein said: "It's going to have a huge impact on the area. One of the biggest questions over the development is whether the community will still be able to afford to live here. People want to stay by their families but they are all going to be pushed out."

Ms McCartney added: "It feels like we are learning about the area all the time. These people have never been heard and now there is the chance to tell the rest of London what the area is actually made up of."

An audio tour is being launched on the King's Cross Voices website for visitors to download on www. kingscrossvoices.org.uk.

If you would like to be interviewed or volunteer to help the project, contact LeslieM@kings-cross. org.uk or AlanD@kings-cross. org.uk or the King's Cross Community Development Trust on 020-7713 7959.

katie.davies@hamhigh.co.uk

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