Local HARCA legend Peter Harrold takes us back in time
Peter Harrold works at Poplar HARCA as an Electrical Team Manager. Born and bred in East London, he is a HARCA legend as he is one of the few remaining staff members who has worked at HARCA since December 1999, a year after the organisation was born. He has also worked in Tower Hamlets for an amazing 42 years. Due to his lengthy service, Peter knows “every nook and cranny of the properties” but most importantly, he has witnessed the growth and development of HARCA.
So where does the legend begin? In 1960, Peter was born at Mile End hospital and remained a local lad until 1986. He grew up at 36 St Paul’s Way (and stayed there until the age of 21), and as a youngster attended St Paul with St Luke Primary School before moving on to Parmiter’s grammar school in Bethnal Green He then lived at Ennerdale House tower block, at the rear of Mile End Station, until he was 26. During this time, Canary wharf saw the biggest injection of investment in what was a socially deprived area. The docks had long closed down and the area was in need of redevelopment, but with that redevelopment came a new interest in property in the area with the resultant rise in property values. Housing was becoming increasingly unaffordable for the locals. Peter therefore moved from Mile End to East Ham because homes were more affordable there.
As Peter has worked in the area his entire life, he has established some very fond memories. One of these being when he got married in St Paul with St Luke Church, on the corner of Burdett Road and St Paul’s Way on 3rd October 1981. He told us: “I am a local, I am part of the furniture as they say. That’s why I am still here. It’s my manor.” Peter’s passion for all things engineering began when he studied Physics at secondary school. He told us: “Electricity had always fascinated me. Without it we would have remained in the dark, but treat it badly and it can kill you.” He completed an electrical apprenticeship with London Borough of Tower Hamlets (LBTH) in 1981. After this, he completed an Electrical Engineering trainee scheme with LBTH which then led him to become a senior Electrical Engineer with LBTH Council.
Now, Peter is part of HARCA’s Technical Services team. His role is crucial in running day to day services for our residents. He and his team manage 12 contractors who undertake works under Poplar HARCA’s instruction, such as carrying out safety tests across all of our homes. So what does being an Electrical Team Manager entail? Peter candidly stated that he has a “fancy title” but summarises his role with a smile: “I look after the health of our electrical systems which in turn looks after the health of our residents and employees by not electrocuting them. He modestly considers himself “a caretaker”, and has proved himself to be fantastic due to the instrumental work that he has done throughout these years to keep HARCA afloat. Aside from replacing aged installations and keeping others working, the most successful project he worked on was managing the Digital Switchover in 2012. All of London’s TV transmissions went digital, and all of Poplar HARCAs TV systems had to be prepared to continue working. This was achieved by a near million pound programme to replace systems in readiness. The switchover was seamless, and Poplar HARCA did not receive one complaint which has enabled us to provide an efficient service to our residents.
Thank you Peter for taking care of HARCA – especially since 1999 and for continuing to serve us.