Friday, 30 September 2011

The Friday Postcard From London – 30th September 1910

Dear Mr & Mrs Walker,

Contrary to the popular nursery rhyme, it didn’t fall down after all. But we did sell it to an American chap back in the 60s. And no, he DIDN’T think he was buying Tower Bridge!


Wish you were here

D.C


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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

It's a London Thing No.48: Hampstead Garden Suburb

It’s a London Thing is our Wednesday series in which we turn the spotlight on a unique aspect of London – perhaps a curious shop, sometimes an eccentric restaurant, a hidden place, book or oddity. The subject matter will be different every week. The running theme, however, will remain constant: you have to come to London to enjoy it. It’s A London Thing.


Village London. The debate rages on. Some will have none of it. Will Self, reviewing Peter Ackroyd’s London for the New Statesman, wrote that the book was “the antithesis of all the estate-agent twaddle that reduces London - with arrant spuriousness - to a collection of villages.”

Strong stuff.

Even among those who embrace aspects of the village angle on London, there is often conflict: particularly when it comes down to the villagier-than-thou debate.

David, for example, will throw down the gauntlet for Strand-on-the-Green, taking on the might of the Highgate Boys Tom and Brian.

Yet here’s Karen, challenging them all with Hampstead Garden Suburb, the manor where she was raised and schooled.

It, she contests, above all London’s villages, is the most beautiful, the most perfectly formed. And she’s made a little film to make her case…




Karen’s Local London Walk Golders Green & Hampstead Garden Suburb goes on 6th November at 2.30p.m from Golders Green tube.

Hampstead Garden Suburb: It’s a (Village) London Thing.



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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The London Reading List No 17: Soho in the Fifties

Tuesday is great London books day on The Daily Constitutional. Give us your own recommendations at the usual email address




Soho in the Fifties
By Daniel Farson


A work that rattles along with all the élan of a great novel, Daniel Farson’s Soho in The Fifties is an account of London’s most forgiving and tolerant quarter. It is told by that most unique of all Soho-ites: a man who was both there and who can remember he was there.

“Soho,” writes Farson, the great-nephew of Bram Stoker, “has always been a state of mind rather than a boundary.” And the minds that populate his narrative (the main section of which is structured as a 24-hours-in-the-life-of-Soho documentary) are some of the sharpest of the mid-20th Century. Artist Francis Bacon and journalist Jeffrey Barnard swagger through the narrative, rubbing shoulders with a picaresque gallery of characters who, while less celebrated on the international stage, remain Soho legends. Characters such as Norman Balon of the Coach and Horses (the man styled by Barnard as the Rudest Landlord in London) and Muriel Belcher, the éminence grise of Dean Street and proprietress of the legendary watering hole The Colony Room.

Farson’s narrative even takes us a little further north of the 21st Century Soho, over Oxford Street to the area to which he refers to as North Soho (Fitzrovia today) to reveal licentious goings-on at the Fitzroy Tavern and in search of the painters Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde as they evade eye-watering bar bills all over W1. It’s a revealing insight: Soho has changed in shape as well as tone.

The great surviving characters of Soho are the pubs that serve as backdrop to the tale: The French House and the Coach and Horses remain in rude health in the 21st Century. “It’s ironic,” writes Farson of those Soho hostelries, "that Karl Marx and Logie Baird both lived in Soho, for politics and last night’s television are rarely discussed in Soho, though they are the mainstay in [most other] British pubs.”

Farson’s only oversight is the importance of music to this part of town. A forgivable omission given that the author moved in a world of letters and media; and one that is rectified with a peerless introduction by the late, great English jazz musician and writer George Melly. A rare treat: two great writers for the price of one.

(The edition illustrated is the Pimlico paperback from 1993)


POST UPDATED 3/3/16

A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.









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Monday, 26 September 2011

In and Around London... The Square Mile

Monday is mute on the London Walks Blog (well, almost mute) – because Monday is the day when we post five images captured in and around London by London Walks Guides, London Walkers and Facebook friends. Collated on a theme or an area, if you've got some great shots of our capital and want to join in send your pictures to the usual address.


The Old City, the Square Mile, the financial capital…














POST UPDATED 2/3/16


A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.









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Saturday, 24 September 2011

Cheapside: The Saturday Street


The Saturday Street is our NEW weekly series in which we unlock the stories behind the names of London's famous thoroughfares. It's compiled by London Walks guide Karen – listed by Travel + Leisure magazine as The World's Greatest Tour Guide. You can find Karen on Saturdays guiding her Old Westminster and British Museum walks. If you've got a London street query or suggestion, email Karen at the usual address




Cheapside EC2
Location:
The City of London

From the old English word céap, meaning market – making this the district by the market. Eastcheap has similar roots. Known thus since the 1430s, it is from the same root that we get the modern word “cheap” to describe a bargain – such as £8 for a London Walk!


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