25 years: discovering the origins of grime and connecting communities in Waltham Forest

Artists and filmmakers involved in uncovering the origins of grime music in Waltham Forest share their thoughts on how National Lottery funding has changed their London borough.
Serena Cecilia

Since the National Lottery began 25 years ago, more than £20million has been invested in Waltham Forest’s heritage.

It’s restored historic buildings, helped nature thrive and rejuvenated streets. It’s also explored some incredible community stories, including the history of grime music.

“It’s helped show just how talented people in the community are and how much they can do for each other.”

Hilary El-msury, young filmmaker 

A story that needed to be told

The Grime Waltham Forest project has been celebrating the artists, producers and promoters from the borough who have contributed to the genre since the early 2000s.

It has connected up and coming artists with the people who inspired them and given young filmmakers the chance to hone their skills while documenting the project.

Lemzi, a hip-hop artist involved in the project, explains: “There’s loads of history here, loads of artists as well from the borough whether it’s Lethal B, Jammer or D Power. Grime Waltham Forest was essentially a celebration of that.”

Emma Betts from Beatroots Creative, the organisation which led the project, adds: “Grime artists built the genre from nothing. It is an inspirational story that needs to be told and one which people in Waltham Forest can now take ownership of.”

Community of pioneers

“In music, especially in hip-hop, rap and grime, it’s important to know where your place is and where you’ve come from. I’ve been able to meet legends, the pioneers I grew up on,” says Walthamstow rapper Kitch.



“In Waltham Forest it seems like there are boroughs, but this project brought us all together as a collective. If you’re from Walthamstow or Leyton it doesn’t matter, we’re all from Waltham Forest and we all helped to pioneer grime.”

“What makes me proud to live here is that people are here for each other and no one wants to see each other fail. I have people in the same field as me and from the outside we’re rivals but in reality we’re not. We’re friends and we want to see each other win.”

Celebration of diversity

Hilary El-msury and Serena Cecilia are two of the young filmmakers involved in documenting the history of grime.

Serena says: “There’s a lot of diversity in the area, a lot of culture. It’s nice for it to finally be seen for its positive aspects.”

Hilary agrees, adding: “It’s helped show just how talented people in the community are and how much they can do for each other.”

Find out more

Watch our film to find out more about how the National Lottery has saved, shared and celebrated Waltham Forest’s heritage over the past 25 years. 

25 years of funding for heritage

Over the past 25 years, The National Lottery Heritage Fund has been the largest dedicated grant funder of the UK’s heritage. We’ve awarded £8bn to more than 44,000 projects across the UK.

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