Bethnal Green: 1862 edition

It’s always fun to read about the history of places you know. My brother got me a copy of Bradshaw’s ‘London’ from 1862 for Christmas and I turned straight to Bethnal Green where I live knowing that it probably wouldn’t get a very good write up. Sure enough:

The houses are generally miserably small and densely inhabited. The line of the Eastern Counties Railway traverses the heart of this squalid region.

Bethnal Green rarely gets good reviews because of the deprivation it has suffered. It reminded me of Michael Young’s first impressions of a Bethnal Green pea-souper in the thesis which went on to become Family and Kinship in East London:

The fog became thicker as I crossed the canal from Bow and by the time I left the housing office I could not see on the ground … I abandoned the old London taxi … and that was when the enquiry began. Waiting until I heard some steps, I put my first question: I asked the way to the nearest Tube station. ‘Search me, mate,’ came back the voice, curiously loud in the fog.

The railway is still here and the houses are densely inhabited but we don’t have pea-soupers and I don’t think I’d call Bethnal Green squalid any more.

Changing sides of the table

Long time no blog. Sorry about that. It’s mainly because my routine has changed as I’ve made the switch from founder to being an investor (of sorts). We’ve just started with the 2012 cohort of six Bethnal Green Ventures teams and over the past few weeks I’ve found myself much more ‘on call’ than before.

I’ll hopefully be blogging a bit more from now on — partly as a way of straightening out some of the issues we face in my own head but also to get feedback on what we’re doing and the approaches we’re developing. I’ve found the blogs of a lot of investors very helpful and while I’m not sure I can manage getting up at 5am everyday, hopefully I can share what we’re up to in a useful way. There’s a lot of hype and criticism of accelerator programmes going on at the moment and I think I can give an honest insider’s view.

So far we seem to be getting it right. The teams have given very positive feedback on the programme side of things and they’re all getting on with one another. I’m also very happy that Google came on board with the project because having our own space at Campus has made everything so much easier. As well as our own wonderful mentors, we’ve had lots of interesting people stick their head around the door.
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