Islington Heritage have received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to create an archive focusing on the London Borough of Islington’s LGBT heritage. Islington has been highly influential in the growth of the LGBT community, its organisations and rights through the 20th and into the 21st century.

Several key events in UK LGBT history occurred in Islington including the first public gay rights protest in Britain in 1970, the setting up of the London Gay Switchboard in Caledonian Road in 1971, the UK’s first openly gay Member of Parliament, Chris Smith, MP for Islington South & Finsbury in 1984 and the UK’s first legal afterhours club, Trade, which opened in Clerkenwell in 1990.

Our project aims to celebrate these and other amazing histories through three main groups of activities:

Firstly, we will be creating a dedicated LGBT archive made up of a combination of 3D objects, paper artefacts and oral histories collected from the community. This archive will have five main criteria that will form the focus of the collecting for the archive. These are:

  • Campaigning/politics
  • Social life
  • Health/well-being
  • Discrimination
  • Development of the community

The archive will form the basis of a collection that will be added to and developed in the future. It will be catalogued and published online as part of the project.

The second part of the project is to produce educational resources for the archive. Working with young people within the borough we will use the archive as an inspiration to create engaging outreach resources and artistic material for the archive.

Thirdly we are creating a digital trail around the borough that highlights important locations in LGBT heritage. This trail will allow residents and visitors of Islington to gain a greater insight into LGBT history and to highlight the importance of the subject in the borough’s heritage landscape.

The huge importance of LGBT heritage in Islington stands as a microcosm for the wider London LGBT community. If you have collections or memories of the LGBT community in Islington please get in contact.