Nine Elms Past and Present

Through this website, we aim to share stories of good practice to inspire more excellent creative place-making projects with young people. Some will be projects we find interesting and relevant even though they aren’t part of the Cultivate programme. Nine Elms Past and Present is definitely inspiring and relevant. It’s about Nine Elms, it uses media and heritage resources in a creative way, it involves young people, and one of our partners Chocolate Films is behind it!

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It’s a media and heritage project led by young people working with Chocolate Films. They aimed to discover real life stories about people that lived and worked in Nine Elms before the decommissioning of Battersea Power Station in 1983. It lasted a year, involved 400 people in total and was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Chocolate Films has always been based near Nine Elms and has had a long relationship with both the developers and the communities in the area. They thought it would be invaluable to research and document the social history of this fast-changing area. The result was a fantastic programme, devised with young people, in partnership with local arts and cultural organisations which reached out to local residents.

Their filmmakers trained and supported 30 young people to engage with an older generation and uncover unheard stories about the area and its history. The participants learned documentary filmmaking skills, which includes researching local heritage, skills in listening, empathising and interviewing people, and technical skills with cameras, audio and editing. They created four short documentaries as well as many oral history recordings. They also learned how to create a dedicated website for the project and designed an exhibition to showcase their creative work, which was held in February at StudioRCA at Riverlight. Many of the participants became Chocolate Films Ambassadors and achieved Arts Awards from their work on the project.

The project has included a range of exciting events for the local community. Highlights include the launch event and screening at Battersea Power Station of The Optimists of Nine Elms plus a Q&A with director Anthony Simmons, and an Oral History Collection Day at Battersea Arts Centre.

The website provides a great legacy for the project, and a resource for all Cultivate partners, educators and community groups to celebrate and explore Nine Elms’ heritage. It includes oral histories on themes of culture, community, industry, politics and activism, transport and leisure. You can also explore through the profiles of all the people they interviewed. Or, you can dig around in the archive, where there are old films of the area, including some odd treasures like a film about a doll factory, or some photos of Battersea Power Station.

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If you have any queries about this project, get in touch with Chocolate Films on

Chocolate Films is working with us to create an introductory film to the Cultivate project, which will be posted here when it is ready.