King's Cross Voices
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NORMA STEEL

Norma Steel was interviewed by King's Cross Voices Project Coordinator Leslie McCartney on 29th March, 2004. Born and raised on Balfe Street in King's Cross, in 1938, Norma has spent much of life trying to make her community a better place to live. After years of community activism she remembers how she first heard of the plans to make King's Cross the terminus of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.


Duration: 3 minutes 14 Seconds. Size: 2.96mb
TRANSCRIPT

Norma Steel: But it was him who phoned me one day and he said Norma have you got a chair handy? And I said why. He said I got some rather, rather horrific news. You'll need a chair. So I sat down. He said we've just found out that British Rail are looking to make King's Cross their Channel Tunnel Terminal. I said oh. It didn't really mean a lot to me then. Oh. He said well, he said it looks as though there're about to put the biggest hole that Europe 's ever seen slap bang in the middle of King's Cross. Well I couldn't, I just couldn't believe it. It was uncanny. And that, from there on ...

Leslie McCartney: And that was 198?

Norma Steel: We're going back, it's got to be twenty years, easily. Easily twenty years 'cause I've been off work ... I finished work in ... I was 53, so that's nearly 13 years ago and it must have been a good, going on a good five or six years before that because my firm was so good 'cause I used to my holidays to go to the House of Lords, to go here, the things I did while that Channel Tunnel business, I mean that was ...

Leslie McCartney: But after all those years of fighting for your community and then to have that to happen.

Norma Steel: That was just absolutely devastating. It was really was devastating. It took a long while, it took a while for it to sink in, just the enormity of the project. But it really changed, everything changed then, everything changed.

Leslie McCartney: How?

Norma Steel: Well, once, once the ... the blight once again was back on King's Cross. So, it was as though you had gone back years and years really.

Leslie McCartney: All you had done was for faught.

Norma Steel: Yeah, it was blight. And I had a lot of friends as I say who owned houses but not, it wasn't trendy or gentrified it was just simply ... well Italian families who had lived there, my son-in-law's family had lived there all their life practically. But because the blight went on the area and British Rail started to buy up properties, obviously they didn't have a lot of choice other than to sell. Because nobody knew what was going to happen. So a lot of people sold up, like people who had worked, like friends of mine who had worked on the community garden I have spoken about they moved and sold.

Leslie McCartney: And they obviously moved out of the area.

Norma Steel: Yes because nobody wanted to face 15-20 years of blight and then what? I mean look at King's Cross. The work that's been involved in the road closures, and Caledonian Road I mean ...

Leslie McCartney: The dust and the noise and the dirt.

Norma Steel: It's the inconvenience.

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ай2004 King's Cross Voices Oral History Project