• Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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Camden council names housing block after British Indian spy

Camden Council unveiled the “Noor Inayat Khan House” at a ceremony on December 20, 2023

Noor Inayat Khan – (Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth – WPA Pool / Getty Images)

By: Eastern Eye

A COUNCIL housing block in north London has been named after British Indian spy and descendant of Tipu Sultan, Noor Inayat Khan, following a ballot of local residents to choose from a shortlist of the area’s historic inhabitants.

Camden Council unveiled the “Noor Inayat Khan House” at a ceremony on December 20, 2023, attended by Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader and local MP, Khan’s biographer Shrabani Basu, and Camden Council leaders and residents.

Camden was the borough where young Noor lived with her family before she left for Nazioccupied France in 1943, when she was recruited as an undercover radio operator for Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE). She became the first woman to be dropped behind enemy lines during the Second World War.

“It is wonderful that the residents of Camden voted to name the housing block after Noor Inayat Khan. The people of Camden have truly taken Noor to heart, and she is known and loved in the borough,” said Basu, the London-based author of Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan.

In 2020, the English Heritage charity unveiled a Blue Plaque at 4 Taviton Street in Bloomsbury to commemorate Khan’s home in Camden, following a memorial installed nearby at Gordon Square by the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust in 2012.

Khan was shot dead aged just 30 at Dachau concentration camp in 1944.

The new residential block that has been named after her forms part of a social housing project to deliver more affordable homes in London.

Sir Keir, who represents Holborn and St Pancras in Camden, said, “This isn’t just about some bricks and some windows and a roof; this is about life chances, aspiration and equal opportunity for everyone.”

Each of the three new residential buildings at the Maitland Park redevelopment has been named after prominent local figures as part of Camden Council’s strategy for diversity in public spaces.

Besides Noor Inayat Khan, a second block commemorates Mary Prince, the first black woman to have an autobiography published in Britain, and a third is named after Antony Grey, an LGBTQ+ activist whose work led to decriminalisation of homosexuality for men.

“Residents have shaped the legacy of where they live by helping to choose three remarkable figures from our local community to name their new buildings after,” said councillor Danny Beales, Camden Council cabinet member for new homes, jobs, and community investment.

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