Homerton gardens renamed to sever slave trader ties and celebrate community hero

Kit Crowley on Gascoyne Estate in May 2006. 

Kit Crowley on Gascoyne Estate in May 2006. - Credit: Hackney Council

Residents have voted to rename Cassland Road Gardens in Homerton after a community hero who spent six decades supporting her neighbours. 

The public green space will now be called Kit Crowley Gardens after residents picked the local role model from a shortlist of four candidates. 

The gardens are the first place to receive a new name through Hackney Council's Review, Rename, Reclaim project and the change was agreed at a Full Council meeting on Monday (July 21). 

Equalities lead Cllr Carole Williams said: “I’m proud that Kit Crowley Gardens will be the first place to be renamed in our review.

“We believe that after the movement over the last year, it’s right that we all take the time to learn about the past and reflect on whether our public spaces best represent the communities that live here."

Kit Crowley (back row in blue) with other Wentworth Nursery staff in the 1970s. 

Kit Crowley (back row in blue) with other Wentworth Nursery staff in the 1970s. - Credit: Hackney Council

Kathleen ‘Kit’ Crowley was born in 1918 to an English mother and Barbadian father.

She experienced poverty and racism growing up but through hardship learned about resilience and community spirit. 

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Kit passed away in 2018 but said in an interview in 2013: "You survived with each other… you shared, that's what it's all about."

In 1984, the community champion moved to the newly built Gascoyne Estate in 1948 with her husband and family. She lived there for 62 years and worked at nearby Wentworth Nursery for more than 30 years. 

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She was described by the people that nominated her as "a role model for children of the Windrush generation". 

Kit’s son John Crowley said: “Fifty, maybe sixty, years ago, a college sat close to these gardens – a college where my mother worked as a cleaner. 

“When the college made way for housing, it seemed the bricks had crushed the past. Now the past is restored. Her spirit will forever have this haven."

Cassland Gardens has been renamed and will now be called Kit Crowley Gardens. 

Cassland Gardens has been renamed and will now be called Kit Crowley Gardens. - Credit: Emma Davies

The name change will rid the gardens of previous links to slave profiteer Sir John Cass, director of the Royal African Company which trafficked enslaved Africans for profit in the late 17th Century.

The former Cassland Road Gardens sign now lives in Hackney Museum as an educational artefact.

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