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Peter Murray

 

The latest of the Society’s Saturday walks saw Blue Badge Guide Angela Morgan take 25 members to see the delights of Camberwell. Hannah Murphy reports (and took these photographs).

The tour began in Camberwell Green, a spacious common in the heart of Camberwell. Angela, our Blue Badge tour guide, explained that ‘Camber’ means crooked and that Camberwell literally meant ‘Crooked Well’. Historically Camberwell Green and St Giles Church, a Victorian gothic church on the hill, formed the heart of a village surrounded by farms and market gardens.

We ventured up Denmark Hill, noting the ceramic Camberwell Beauty above a shopfront. The Camberwell Beauty, also known as Morning Glory, is a maroon butterfly with blue spots and a yellow petticoat and was given its name after it was first sighted in Britain in 1748 near Camberwell.

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Peter Murray

 

For the Society’s February walk Peter Hayes conducted a tour of the City of London’s ‘pedways’. Finbar Bradley of Innes Associates went along for a stroll….

From the moment we met at the Barbican tube station and he erupted with his theatrical personality, it was clear to see on the faces of the surrounding audience members that Peter Hayes was going to be a delight. The eight pages of notes that I mustered tell a tale not only of entertainment but embellished knowledge and fantastic contemporary history.

We started on the upper deck Beech Street highlighting the benefits which could be granted from raising the pedestrians above traffic level. The area was a wasteland following the second world war and many schemes were proposed on the site of the Barbican from the County Council [Modernist] and the City Corporation [conservative]. The most important incident occurred with the implementation of the London Wall dual carriageway by the LCC and the implementation of Pedways to allow pedestrians to traverse the road.

The LCC had requested therefore that the architects of Powell Chamberlain and Bon continue the pedways through their vision; a suggestion that was greatly welcomed. Their incorporation was in somewhat of a contradictory manner however as these pedways were no longer used to separate the roads and the pedestrians. Peter points out some interesting water features and highlights that the City walls never had a moat and that in his opinion these are a Barbican construct to “give the pedways a reason to exist.”

Continuing along the Barbican “High streets” a look at the ruined medieval/ roman remains of the city walls present themselves as Peter enlightens us on some of the other ideas which existed at this level. Originally the plan was that each office would only be allowed an entrance at Pedway level and not at Ground Floor. A great example of this is the Museum of London Which is only approachable at this level still today; “a purest building”. Furthermore, Kiosks were placed on pedway level however it appears that in doing so, this created two competing markets. The street level market has since won out.

By the time we reached Terry Farrell’s Alban Gate, we start to see the carving up of pedways past. An old connection removed and in its place, a gaping hole to the south of Alban Gate. Replacing this is a new corten steel section, delightfully opening a view to the ruins of the home for the blind below which required an uncomfortable lean over a hand rail to view below. Surrounding this area is in Peter’s opinion, the main reason why the pedways failed. The Brewers Hall and the Salters Hall along with others in the area did not open up to the concept and instead, retained their ground floor entrance leaving the pedways broken and disjointed.

As proof of this, we are taken on a whirlwind tour of pedways lost, including pedways which end with fire escapes from victorian buildings, granite lined innards of commercial buildings and reminders that areas are no longer part of a public right of way. A proposed map of the pedways from 1963 can be found with a quick search and perhaps highlights another issue in planning as it was proposed that a pedway would cut through St. Paul’s Cathedral! I urge you to visit the pedway adjacent the junction of London Wall and Old Broad Street, still brandished with the arms of the City of London. It is tremendous to see that these areas still exist in some guise.

We finished with a fanfare of church bells as the glimmers of spring sunshine cascade from the glistening buildings above and a pristine view over the River Thames. The pedways made their way to this location and abruptly end with no real reason to their termination. Running along perpendicular to our view however, the pedways sibling and absorber of much of its funding: the Thames paths.

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Peter Murray

The Society’s recent sold-out walk with Blue Badge Guide Angela Morgan visited the rejuvenated markets of Spitalfields, Brick Lane and over to the foodies’ paradise of Borough Market. Hannah Murphy went along.

“It was market-morning. The ground was covered, nearly ankle-deep, with filth and mire; a thick steam, perpetually rising from the reeking bodies of the cattle, and mingling with the fog, which seemed to rest upon the chimney-tops, hung heavily above… Countrymen, butchers, drovers, hawkers, boys, thieves, idlers, and vagabonds of every low-grade, were mingled together in a mass…” (Oliver Twist)

On Saturday 27th January, we gathered around the Goat Statue in Bishop’s Square, Spitalfields, to learn about the significant role that street markets have played throughout London’s history. Our tour guide, Angela Morgan, quickly explained that just as a goat climbs a mountain with grit and perseverance, the residents and stall holders of Spitalfields have had to fight to remain culturally relevant in a society that is constantly changing. We discussed rapidly rising business rates and rents, which were pushing SME’s out of the area in search of more affordable rents.

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Peter Murray

 

On 14 October, The Society organised a walk around Brixton with Blue Badge Guide Angela Morgan. Joanna Day reports.

The Society will be holding a discussion on Brixton regeneration hosted by Squire and Partners at their new Brixton offices, early in 2018. To find out when tickets will be available, add yourself to our newsletter list.

Brixton is in the eye of the beholder. The area contains so many historical and cultural layers that I feel as though I arrive at the end of the Victoria Line and see the area through predetermined filters.

It is refreshing and fascinating, therefore, to take a London Society guided walk through Brixton, led by our fantastic, informed (and singing) guide, Angela, in order to look again – or maybe for the first time – at the fascinating story of Brixton as written in its built fabric, and to take our own punt at predicting its future.

If there is one word you would associate with contemporary Brixton, it would be: ‘change’. Gentrification blazes onwards in Brixton leaving questions about exclusion and identity in its trail. You get the feeling that the consequences of gentrification are not seen as inevitable nor go unchallenged in this feisty part of Lambeth, but whether the driving forces can or should be altered in their trajectory remains to be seen.

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