The Heygate Estate

In June 2012, my good friend Leon James and I decided to go on an expedition in London. After researching about many interesting things to do within the London perimeter we opted for The Heygate Estate which appealed to us as it is/was an iconic estate in the story of South London.

The Heygate Estate is located in Elephant & Castle and was the home of nearly 1300 families. The whole estate has been left vacant for various reasons (such as violence, gangs and drugs) until only one family was left leaving there. This is very interesting and attracted so many people around from different countries. Leon and I met the people leaving there and it was so strange. The whole neighbourhood looked like a post-apocalyptic scene from a movie or even scene from Jumanji (with the leaves).

On that day I was equipped with my “at the time” Yashica Mat 124g which was my first working medium format camera. Before heading to Heygate we took a trip to Calumet UK to get some rolls. I bought a pack of 5 Fuji Reala 100 (a film that has been discontinued by Fujifilm).


On our way to Heygate I was anxious of not being able to get in Heygate as the perimeter was protected by fences and it looked like they had already started the renovation.


After a few minutes of circling the Estate we managed to find an entrance into the Estate. We jumped the 3 feet high barrier and started walking around in absolute AWW.

What surprised me was the fact that there were so many people within the Estate. We ran into Free Runners, Painters, Graffiti Artists, Music Directors and also a few photographers.

After approaching the buildings, Leon and I saw a little grilled door that was damaged and led into the buildings. We sneaked into it and started out expedition into the Urban Jungle.



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Adventure in the chaos of Heygate! Hazardous environment





After carefully avoiding the “non-climbing paint” that would stain the clothes forever and the needles on the floor we made our way to the symbolic roof top where we took pictures of London. Unfortunately I shot a roll of Fuji Pro 400H (you guys know how much that stuff cost so I ain’t even gonna go there!!) and after taking it to the lab it came back blank! I was devastated as I took some amazing shots of Leon James and the surroundings. Oh well it wasn’t meant to be.

After that we went down to the lower floors and started exploring the balconies and tried to find an entrance to some abandoned flats. It looked so raggedy and beat-up.

We geared up with medium format cameras and new rolls and started shooting.

I got carried away so many times Leon kept on telling to watch out for the needles. Thanks Leon for looking out for me 🙂

This building had so much character

We carried on to the balconies on the left hand side

First long exposure

The inside of the flats and balconies were a bit spooky and we started to feel quite uncomfortable so we decided to leave the building to go to the next place. The sun was blasting on us really badly so we had to take cover under the trees. It was like walking into an post-apocalyptic movie, it was just unreal, concrete jungle with leaves everywhere. We started touring in the abandoned of what used to be playgrounds before.

After all this we were shattered from the climbing and the descending we had to go to the shop to take a break. We decided to leave the Heygate and come back another day.

Unfortunately after this (June 2013) we never manage to come back to Heygate to shoot Part 2 of the 5 Parts but it will always remain an amazing experience.

We are now December 2013 and I went to Heygate with Wojtek Mszyca to take pictures but it was under demolition, I was devastated that we will never be able to experience such a thing again.

The end.


Author: Nadeem Karim

| London / Paris Photographer - Mu'min |

One thought on “The Heygate Estate”

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