Records of Pagnell Street Youth and Community Centre

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The files in this collection contains correspondence, minutes, reports, memoranda and notes relating to the day-to-day running of Pagnell Street Youth and Community Centre. Much of this material relates to Norma Gibbes, Chairperson and Director.

There is some duplication of material between files in this fonds

Administrative / Biographical History

Pagnell Street Centre began life as the Moonshot Club in St John's Hall, Lewisham in about 1971. Sybil Phoenix was the founder and first director of the club. Rosalind Howells and Lloyd Grey were also founders and Jocelyn Barrow would later be a trustee. This building burnt down in the late 1970s and Pagnell Street Centre Charitable Trust leased a property on Fordham Park, New Cross, London in 1979. The Centre had originally been based. The Centre was set up under a Trust Deed administered by a group of Trustees and was opened by Charles, Prince of Wales in February 1981. A Management Committee agreed on a new constitution on 9 December 1981. The Inner London Education Authority (ILEA), the Sports Council and the London Borough of Lewisham funded and were closely involved with the Centre. The centre's treasurer, Mr Nott, was also the Assistant Treasurer of Lewisham Borough and the ILEA seconded Beverly Campbell to the centre's education project. The main objectives of the centre were: The relief of poverty, the advancement of education and the provision of facilities and activities for the benefit of all those living or working in Lewisham. Pagnell Street Youth and Community Centre quickly became a focal point for the local black community. In 1981 Sybil Phoenix helped organise the Black Peoples' Day of Action after the New Cross Fire. The Centre provided a counselling and advice service, an education project, the Moonshot Youth Club, the Moonshot Domino Group, a Young Mother's Project and a Painting Project. It also operated a canteen and a library, and hosted a number of sports groups; including badminton, basketball, cricket, football and netball. The Young Mother's Project had existed in the original centre at St John's Hall and was very ably run by Sandra Fuertardo. The Moonshot Youth Club was the nucleus and most active part of the Centre. However, by the mid 1980s "threatening behaviour [had become] a regular occurrence with a certain group of older male members of the Youth Club" (PAGNELL/1. ILEA letter 15/09/1984) and this period saw a decrease in the club's popularity, as well as an increase in illegal activities. The club closed down in 1999 but was later re-opened as the Moonshot Club.

In its first few years the centre had a series of directors. Sybil Phoenix resigned that post on 31 December 1980 to go and work with the church. The Centre did not have a Director from October 1981 and during this period the chair of trustees, Norma Gibbes (Sybil Phoenix had invited Gibbes to that position in the mid 1970s), acted as executive chair. Andrew Balladin was appointed as Director in April 1982 and was due to take up the post by the end of June but the Management Committee were again interviewing for the post of Director by July. Winston Lawrence was appointed Director on 31 January 1983, by October of that year a report was presented to the Management Committee questioning "Mr Lawrence's ability to carry out the duties of Director effectively". E Harris became Director on 1 August 1984 and resigned in October of the same year.

Norma Hart born in 1943 in, Free Town, St Catherine, Jamaica. In 1958 she left for London, where she went to secondary school and continued on to Teachers' Training College between 1961 and 1964. Norma married Asquith Gibbes in 1964 and started working as a teacher in London. She was a founder and member of the Caribbean Teachers' Association which later set up a training project for young people in Camberwell. With the assistance of a number of community groups, she also printed pamphlets to inform parents about the educational system and organised a series of educational programmes on Black Londoners. Norma Gibbes also worked with Asian community leaders to set up a National Black Educational Organisation, but this project failed. She was invited to be the Chair of Trustees at Pagnell Street by Sybil Phoenix in the late 1970s, she acted a executive chair between December 1980 and April 1982 when the centre did not have a Director and resigned in 1985. When she left she took what records she could and deposited them with the Black Cultural Archives in 1998.

Norma Gibbes worked consistently as a teacher at schools in Southwark. She was one of the first Black Headteachers in London; becoming Deputy Headteacher at Dick Sheppard School in Tulse Hill in April 1983 and acting head in 1988. In January 1989 she was appointed Headteacher of Warwick Park School in Southwark, a post which she held until her retirement in August 1997. She became a local councillor in Southwark in 1998 and served until 2006, a corporation member at Southwark College from 1997 and Chair of Governors at Kingsdale School in Dulwich.

Information taken from PAGNELL, an interview with Norma Gibbes on 19 November 2008 and Lewisham Borough Council's website.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for research but is currently held offsite. Readers are strongly urged to contact Black Cultural Archives in advance of their visit. For material that is stored off-site, advance notice of at least a week is needed in order to retrieve the material.

The reading room is open for access to archive materials Wednesdays-Fridays, 10am-4pm. The reading room is also open late every second Thursday of the month, 1pm-7pm.

Please email the archivist to book an appointment archives@bcaheritage.org.uk

Geographical Names