|Arlington House, Camden, 2008, Ravish London|
Arlington House is a century old shelter for homeless men based on Arlington Road, which runs parallel with one of the major thoroughfares in Camden Town, Camden High Street. It was one of a number of hostels built by Lord Rowton, a Victorian philanthropist at the turn of the nineteenth century.
One of its most famous residents was George Orwell who wrote about his experiences there in 'Down and Out in Paris and London'.
According to Gina Bold the shelter has housed many refugees arriving in London over the years. These have included refugees fleeing the Stalinist regime; Polish, Belgian and British men left homeless during the blitz; and Irish migrant workers employed as casual labourers in the 1970s and 1980s.
Arlington House will be refurbished in 2008.
The work of Gina Bold
Gina Bold is an artist who was given a room in the hostel. She gave an interesting account of life in the hostel stating: 'The men would congregate down a corridor known affectionately as 'death row' which is lined both sides with seats, they would chat and drink from morning to late at night and I found myself drawn into their company listening to stories about Ireland and their families.' Bold went on to paint portraits of photographs taken of the men.
A press release from Novas Gallery Camden stated "As the generation of Irishmen who migrated to work in the post-war reconstruction of london and the Southeast got older, and as work got harder to get, these men have remained in the hostel, and have grown to depend on the resident Irish community as they lost contact with friends and family in London. Arlington House now represents a disappearing commnunity: the number of Irish living there has declined as many of the older Irish residents have passed away, including some of the most notable and well-liked figures in the hostel. Other ethnic groups, such as refugees from war-torn Africa, are now moving in, with their own stories to tell and their own culture to maintain. Although the Irigh retain a highly visible and vital community within Arlington House, their age and their ill health mean that this is now a community in rapid decline".
In January 2010, the Camden Gazette reported that 'A pair of arsonists put more than 100 lives in danger with a foolhardy plot to trash the Camden Town hostel where they lived'. The two arsonists apparently scaled scaffolding, cut wires to the fire alarm system, used a jelly-like substance to obscure the lenses of the CCTV cameras, before setting fire to the staff office. According to the Gazette, 'a back-up alarm aounded and firefighters put out the blaze'.
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