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Waltham Forest Council honours Damon Albarn

Waltham Forest Council has today honoured Damon Albarn with a Blue Plaque on his childhood home of 21 Fillebrook Road, Leytonstone.

The award is a timely one as Albarn’s recent work reflects on his early life in the borough, inspired by people and experiences of that time, with mentions of beauty spots such as Hollow Ponds.

Councillor Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, said, “This borough has produced talented people from all walks of life and given Damon is such a huge name in the world of music it was right that we should celebrate him as a son of Leytonstone too.

“Having been privileged to have met him, it is obvious that he has a real affection for the borough, as anyone listening to ‘Hollow Ponds’ on his new album can hear.”

Albarn’s recent Mercury-nominated album Everyday Robots, recalls his early childhood living in Fillebrook Road. He attended the nearby George Tomlinson School, which he remembers as a very happy time. His work references many local features and streets in the area, while the Pentecostal City Mission Church Choir – based at the church on the corner of Kingswood Road and Colworth Road – performs on the track Mr Tembo.

“They are playing with me at the Royal Albert Hall in a few weeks’ time,” said Damon this morning. “It’s that sort of thing that resonates from my childhood. I remember walking past their church and hearing the choir singing, so to involve them now is wonderful.” The Choir also joined Albarn for a performance at Leytonstone Library earlier this year.

Though his family moved east to a village near Colchester when he was 9 years old, the community of Leytonstone had a lasting impact on Albarn. “Its multi-racial population had a very profound effect on me, and the borough has a very particular feel to it, given the proximity to Epping Forest and places like Hollow Ponds,” he said.

“For instance, I remember cows coming down this road on a regular basis. You wouldn’t believe it now what with the A12 extension, but memories like that obviously stuck with me.” And he added: “I had my photo taken by David Bailey recently, he told me he was getting a plaque put up on a house just round the corner from here, so it is nice to be in such company.”

PHOTOS: Damon at the house he grew up in, now adorned with his own blue plaque.

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