King's Cross is famous the world over for its railway and architectural heritage but in recent years the name King's Cross has also been tainted by seediness and sleaze. It's a place which people either seem to love or loathe, but up to now very little has been written about its people - those who have both lived and worked in the locality, perhaps out of sight and out of mind of the commuting crowds.
Today King's Cross is in the throes of a massive redevelopment, and it is entering perhaps the most exciting period of its long and turbulent history. In response, King's Cross Voices was created and was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the London boroughs of Camden and Islington. Between 2004 and 2008, the project was dedicated to recording and preserving the authentic voices of King's Cross people before the physical reminders are forever changed, and as the composition of present communities are likely to be altered irrevocably. It is the first ever oral history project to document the life and times of King's Cross, collecting interviews with a wide range of men and women - those who worked in the railway industry, students, shopkeepers, market traders, police officers, artists, campaigners, politicians, former sex trade workers, factory workers, housewives, publicans and many, many more.
From the outset of the project, extracts from King's Cross Voices have been used in local exhibitions, sound trails, theatrical performances, and community publications. Many of the interviewees were also photographed by a volunteer portrait photographer, and a unique collection of people's own family photographs were also gathered for the project.
Many people have helped create the King's Cross Voices oral history archive. These include those who have worked for the project, those who have given their time as volunteers and not least the bodies which funded the project.
The project was largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with additional financial support from the London Borough of Camden and the London Borough of Islington. The project was also supported by Argent, the British Library Sound Archive and South Camden Community Learning Centre.
Until December 2006 the project was managed by the former King's Cross Community Development Trust. Since December 2006 King's Cross Voices has been managed by the Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre.
King's Cross Voices employed two full-time project workers: Leslie McCartney who worked as Project Co-ordinator from 2004 until May 2007, and Alan Dein who worked as Oral Historian from 2004 until May 2007 and then as Project Co-ordinator until January 2008. Many other people have contributed to the project, particularly those volunteers who were members of the advisory committee or interviewed people. Without them the project could not have been successfully completed.