Elephant and Castle

Will Hatchett

At London’s gate it rose, in SE1
Democratic and utilitarian

Here, the post-war settlement began
The hub of Abercrombie’s London plan

The giant blocks and decks of the Heygate
Expressed the power and hope of the state

In the sky-leaning architecture we see
Faith in the future and modernity

Over the estate, sheathed in black and grey
The vast Strata tower looms today

The pages of slick brochures show us how
These flats cost millions; bankers live here now

Reward for self-interest – the new way
Society crumbles – a slow-motion decay

The rich get richer, the poor riot a bit
The state did not fail; we failed it

In a legend to make Abercrombie cry
Now here say giant  letters in the sky

Each era, a new skin is painted on
The future lost; conservatism won

This poem, about South London's busiest transport hub, is in Will Hatchett's collection 63, a London bus journey. You can read it here on Scribd.