My name is Ozymandius, King of Kings, look on my works ye mighty and despair!
These words come from a poster pasted onto a wall that surrounded a temporary community garden created in 1979 on the former Odhams Press site at the top of Bow Street. I was a new lecturer, just started in the Geography Department at King’s College, and was wondering around the area trying to get my bearings, when I came across this poster. Through the metal grille I saw a community garden with children playing, flowers, a greenhouse, and a vegetable patch. I also remember a Chinese garden with flowing water – and I have a vague recollection of one of the local residents who set it up. The community tried to save the garden from being concreted over for a new office block and fought hard, but without success, to preserve the open space. It was well used, as can be seen in the photographs. Today a rather ugly, squat office block stands where the community garden once existed and, other than these photos, there’s no trace left of the struggles over space that took place here, and elsewhere in the area as the old fabric was torn down in the 1970s and a new one put up in its place. It’s hard to imagine now the struggle that took place here and in other places in and around Covent Garden, including the market itself. If anyone remembers this community garden and the people who championed it, please put something up on the Strandlines website just to show that although the garden no longer exists, its memory remains and helps us to imagine other ways that better urban spaces can be created.