Right in the middle of Mile End you will find a cemetery with over 350,000 people buried, more than residents living in Tower Hamlet. The cemetery is one of the Magnificent Seven Victorian cemetery’s of London that has been turned into a public park in 1966. Today, the beautiful eerie park is the perfect spot for Shuffle to organise their yearly Shuffle Festival. Turning the park into a place where neighbors, youth, and curious Londoners get together. What better way is there to celebrate the dead?
Shuffle finds it origin in the St Clements Hospital that is now part of the East London Community Land Trust. Here, before development plans were put into practice they organized two film festivals and an heritage exhibition, making the hospital into a valuable public space. The development plans for the hospital did not leave enough room for the goals of Shuffle, so they decided to move. Luckily, not far, the backyard of the former hospital became their new home. Here they found the Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, a former cemetery turned into a public park.
Here Londoners can escape the city and retrieve into the vast urban wood land.The park also functions as an outdoor classroom that teaches children about plants, trees and fungus. The park distinguishes itself from other parks throughout London because it is owned by the Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, making it a private run public park. This has enabled the Shuffle organization to team up with the FoTHCP to make a former Cemetary Lodge their home, and the park the site of their activities.
As an organization Shuffle setd out to join people together to create and develop their surroundings, creating the cities they want to live in. By organizing activities that connect people from different backgrounds, and by employing volunteers they are active in creating a valuable public space right in the middle of London, wary of making quick profit like other development projects. Instead, they focus on creating social, creative and diverse public places that can be seen as true community assets. So far Shuffle has set up a bar and restaurant in the lodge, and have organized classes, film screenings, workshops and best known: their yearly Shuffle festival.
Today Shuffle is looking to expand and renovate the Cemetery Lodge from which they operate, and turn it into the true heart of Mile End. They wish to expand the building to be able to organise even more activities that encourage the chance to bring people together. You can help fund their project here.