Tilbury lies twenty miles to the east of central London on the southern fringe of Essex, between the heart of London and the furthest reaches of the Thames Estuary, Britain’s eastern gateway. Some of Britain’s greatest historical milestones unfolded here; today, its port serves as one of the country’s key linkages to the rest of the planet.

At first glance Tilbury is a perfect microcosm of the wider-trend: a predominantly white, largely de-industrialised community, Tilbury was among top 1% ‘leave’-voting regions in the country. Yet Tilbury refutes lazy narratives about ‘racial self-interest’ and ‘cultural conservatism’.  Some of its residents – who hail from a huge range of social backgrounds – articulate a form of nostalgic nativism to explain their disillusionment with the status quo whilst others are less concerned with the matter of cultural borders. Their stories subvert the claims of those who dismiss places like this as backwards and out of step with the 21st century, or seek to fetishise them and apologise for bigotry.

Tilbury’s tales are more complicated than that, and speak directly to the faultlines that are increasingly shaping our world.

This project was produced in collaboration with writer Jack Shenker and published by The World Post, a partnership of Berggruen Institute and HuffPost.
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