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Peter Murray

 

A large and knowledgeable audience were treated to a “Celebration” of street furniture when the Society welcomed back Matt Brown of the essential Londonist website. Jo East reports.

From phone boxes to stink pipes Matt “set out his stall” that this could only be a canter through the various street furniture that gave such interest to this great city of ours.

Beginning with phone boxes Matt briefly outlined the history of the K Series and taught us to identify our K2s (bigger with a regular lattice of panes) from our K6s. (Smaller and with glass recalling old celluloid film – Big frame in the middle and smaller runners down the side) and then talked about how they had been repurposed throughout the city as mobile tech takes over. From a flower kiosk in Russell Square to a book exchange in Lewisham inventive uses have been found for these structures that, being listed, often have to grace our streets long passed the time of their original purpose. Diverting briefly into the sociological significance of tart cards – A 30 year collection now held by the Wellcome Trust to reflect our changing taste, tech and morés – Matt then moved on to post boxes: We saw a map of all the relatively rare Edward VIII boxes. Outer London reigning supreme reflecting the direction of development at that time. As before the more interesting uses to which various redundant boxes had been put were shown. A city farm chicken hutch surely being the “coop” de theatre.

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Peter Murray

 

On 5 December, Matt Brown, editor at large of the Londonist and author of Everything You Know About London is Wrong, gave the Christmas talk to the Society members at the offices of Pilbrow & Partners in St John’s Square. Jo East reports.

Founded 14 years ago by Matt and other likeminded enthusiasts for all things London, and described by Frank Skinner as “the thinking person’s guide to London” the Londonist has grown to be an online font of knowledge about both London’s current events, and its history and myths. Over the years this has given Matt privileged access to areas denied to most people and Matt took us on a tour of literally the highs and the lows of his time at the Londonist – roofs and tunnels.

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