Rural edgeland wander in the rain

My friend joked that he wondered what kind of Wycombe edgelands I’d be leading him round when we met at the station. ‘Let’s head down to Wooburn instead’, I reassured him, far more scenic for his enormous dog, and the woods above the village would give us some partial cover from the persistant rain.

Wooburn Green

We climbed up the bare field above the cricket pitch at Wooburn Park where I spent all my childhood summers and admired the view from the edge of Farm Wood.

shaggy parasol mushroom

Shaggy Parasol mushroom?

There were numerous deep hollows and steep banks throughout Farm Wood and Mill Wood. Some looked as if they could be bomb craters (although I don’t think Wooburn was bombed during the war) – another you could take for an earthwork. My friend and I settled on the idea that they must have been formed either by water running down the hill towards the river at the foot of the valley, or a legacy of the glacial flows that carved this out landscape.

Whitepit Lane Wooburn

Whitepit Lane Wooburn

My friend departed back at Wooburn Green and I sat and watched the rain from Perkys Coffee House on the Green. A cafe like this was unimaginable in Wooburn when I was a kid and also when I returned from Australia with my wife 20-odd years ago.

After the surprisingly good coffee and toasted sandwich had sunk in, I felt the pull back up out of the valley, ascending Whitepit Lane with its fine views over the village.

Whitepit Lane Wooburn

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The scrubby fields blocked with concrete sentinels started to adopt an edgeland feel that I began to see wherever I looked. The caravan park where my parents had lived in the 1950’s is still there in a chalk pit near the top of the hill (Dad said lumps of chalk would regularly fall upon the roof). The field looking towards Pig Wood was protected with a large metal gate. Shipping containers sprouted from the earth at the top of Juniper Lane.

Juniper Lane, Flackwell Heath

Juniper Lane, Flackwell Heath

My Dad told me the they used to call the bottom of Juniper Lane ‘Spicer’s Crossing’ after a fella who’d been killed on the railway line there and whose ghost haunted that part of the Lane.

I moved on along Boundary Road, the rain still lashing down.

Loudwater viaduct

M40 Viaduct at Loudwater

Passing beneath the viaduct carrying the M40 overhead was always a powerful experience as a kid. We used to climb up into its interior via a service hatch – like crawling through the air vents of a space station – a terrifying experience.

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The Railko factory appears to have been demolished and with it has gone the powerful odour of burnt plastic that it puffed out into the air. My Mum worked there at one point, making circuit boards I believe. A single strip-light illuminated the first floor office of a square industrial unit at the end of a cracked concrete drive. What goes on in these places? The company appears to have connections to Qatar.

The Wheatsheaf High Wycombe

The Wheatsheaf High Wycombe

This unassuming timber-framed building, formerly The Wheatsheaf pub, has recently discovered to have been built in 1399, making it the second oldest standing building in High Wycombe after the parish church. There are now plans to fully investigate the heritage of the site and unravel its history.

The Antelope Wycombe IMG_0367

I end my wander at The Antelope pub, itself a building with a good few years under its eves, with a pint of IPA from the Rebellion Brewery in Marlow. There’s only one other punter in the pub, an old fella eating from a take-away container. Music blares out over an empty dance-floor.

A walk along Leytonstone’s Lost River – the Philley Brook (Fillebrook)

A walk along Leytonstone’s Lost River – the Philley Brook (or Fillebrook) – part of a series of walks for Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019.

The route of the walk in the video is as follows:

Fillebrook Route

Start at St. Andrew’s Church – go behind to patch of land beside St. James Lane – Bury Field Farm – note church on boggy high ground – gas lamp beside church – note course across Forest Road

Hainault Road to block of modern flats – brook runs through car park

Turn into Lytton Road

Turn into Wadley Road

Brook cuts across Ripley Mews and Temple Close (linking to carpark behind flats) – can hear under street iron

Continue back along Lytton Road

Turn into Esther Road – see where brook comes through metal gate continues under houses – flooding

Back to Lytton – look down across back gardens

Turn left into Wallwood Road – Wallwood Farm Estate – Stratford Langthorne

See where brook comes through opposite Kings Passage

Listen to river in Kings Road (be careful of cars) – then it goes through St. John’s Ambulance

Along Kingswood Road to Queen’s Road – see brook running across – listen (watch out for traffic)

Kingswood Road – ex-Fillebrook Road

Fairlop – Bulwer – Chelmsford (alt. Grove Green – Fillebrook)

Go Into Fillebrook Road from Chelmsford Road opp Damon Albarn house and Leytonstone & Wanstead Synagogue

Drayton Road – Southwest Road

Avebury Road – Cavendish Road – Scarborough Road – Southwest Road allotments and drain cover – Drayton Road sound of river opposite flats

Philley Brook Fillebrook

The Philley Brook in Drayton Road

Grove Green Road – Stuart Freeborn Murals – Heathcote and Star Pub

Pretoria Road – Newport Road

[Ian Bourn diversion not in the video but on guided walk: Grove Green (Farm) – Stuart Freeborn – Claremont Rd – Northcote Arms -Francis Road]

Across Francis Road – alleyway into Dawlish Road

Sidmouth Park

Coronation Gardens –  Brooke House – maze + water feature

Leyton Beach

Dunedin Road – Ruckholt Road – Orient Way – end at Allotments

Graham Millar M11 Linked

Listening to Graham Millar’s M11 Linked on Grove Green Road

 

Walking in Waltham Forest talk

I’ll be giving an illustrated talk about my walks for Waltham Forest Borough of Culture at Leyton and Leytonstone Historical Society on Wednesday 16th October – more details here

 

Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema at Leytonstone Loves Film

Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema’s programme of Films of East London was a great success at Leytonstone Loves Film on Saturday. There were big audiences and fascinating director Q&As. Let’s hope that Leytonstone Loves Film – produced by the Barbican – becomes an annual event.

 

Adam Kossoff

Adam Kossoff director of The Anarchist Rabbi

Q&A with Adam Kossoff covered the importance of cultural memory, Jewish radicalism, and the life of Rudolph Rocker.

Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema - Leytonstone Loves Film

The Anarchist Rabbi

Paul Kelly film-maker

Paul Kelly director of What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day

Paul Kelly explains how he spent several weeks exploring the area around the proposed Olympic Park in the summer of 2005 for his film What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day, that was made for a live performance by pop band St. Etienne at the Barbican later that year.

Ian Bourn introduces Lenny's Documentary

Ian Bourn introduces Lenny’s Documentary

Ian Bourn explained how the idea for Lenny’s Documentary arose in 1978 from wondering what would happen if anyone could make and broadcast a TV programme. Shot on U-Matic, it was a pioneering piece of video art, made when Ian was a student at the Royal College of Art.

Barbican Family Film Hub St. John's Churchyard

Barbican Family Film Hub St. John’s Churchyard

Tehran Taboo

Our next film screening

The next screening at Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema – Tehran Taboo is on Wednesday 6th October, 7.45pm at Leytonstone Library

Films of East London at Leytonstone Loves Film

We’re really excited to be able to present this fantastic programme of Films of East London for Leytonstone Loves Film on Saturday 28th September, 12-3pm at Leytonstone Library, Church Lane E11

Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema Presents

Anarchist Rabbi

12.00 The Anarchist Rabbi + Q&A with Adam Kossoff


Leytonstone-based film-maker Adam Kossoff’s documentary, narrated by Stephen Berkoff, tells the story of German anarchist Rudolph Rocker’s London years of campaigning with the East End Jewish community.

UK 2014 Dir Adam Kossoff 45 min

What Have you Done Today Mervyn Day
13.15 What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day? (12) + Q&A with director Paul Kelly


Shot during the summer of 2005, this enigmatic film was the second collaboration between Saint Etienne and director Paul Kelly. It follows a young paperboy’s adventure across London’s last remaining wilderness in the Lea Valley on the eve of the Olympic development.

UK 2005 Dir Paul Kelley 48 min

Please note, this film contains infrequent strong language.
Lenny's Documentary

14.15 Lenny’s Documentary (18*) + Q&A with director Ian Bourn

A one person monologue talking through the script for a planned or imagined documentary. Lenny, is obsessed by a bleak vision of his past and present circumstances, but the visual metaphor Leytonstone High Road reccurs as a glimmer of hope.

UK 1978 Dir Ian Bourn 45 min

Please note, this film contains frequent very strong and derogatory language throughout.

Come for a walk along the Dagenham Brook & Over Pole Hill

New tickets announced for my walks along The Dagenham Brook and Over Pole Hill

It’s been a fantastic summer of walks for Waltham Forest Borough of Culture as ‘psychogeographer-in-residence’. And now the final two walks have just been announced:

The Dagenham Brook

The Dagenham Brook

The Dagenham Brook, 22nd September 2pm –  book here

Waltham Forest Tours presents The Dagenham Brook with John Rogers, Psychogeographer-in-residence; a guided walk an overlooked stream in Waltham Forest.
Running from Leyton Jubilee Park to Coppermill Lane Walthamstow, the Dagenham Brook leads us through the streets of Leyton and Walthamstow weaving stories as it flows.
John will be joined by a local artist Lucy Harrison as part of this walk. A map of the walk is being produced in by printer Russell Frost of Hooksmith Press, Leytonstone.

Pole Hill Chingford

Over Pole Hill, 20th October 2pm – book here

 Explore the north-eastern frontier of both Waltham Forest and Greater London.
This will take the group up over Pole Hill, the highest point in the borough, which sits on Zero Longitude and was used by the Greenwich Observatory to set its telescope. You will also explore the terrain of the forest fringe.
As part of the walk, John will be joined by artist and illustrator Rachel Lillie, whose recent work includes the exhibition The In-between: An Ode to Epping Forest at Waltham Forest’s Vestry House. A map of the walk is being produced in by printer Russell Frost of Hooksmith Press, Leytonstone.

Lea Valley Walk from Walthamstow to Waltham Abbey

This Lea Valley walk from Walthamstow to Waltham Abbey is surely one of my favourites. I’d finished leading a walk across the marshlands from Leyton Water Works to Walthamstow Wetlands and had the desire to push on into the evening. I headed up along Blackhorse Lane then turned into Folly Lane which opens up the postcard image of the ‘edgelands’ – you could bring coachloads of anthropologists and urban geographers up here to Harbet Road with it’s pylons and fields of fly-tipping, mountains of rubble and stacks of shipping containers.

River Lea Navigation

It’s a relief to drop beneath the North Circular onto the towpath of the Lea Navigation, and slowly chug along the waterway like a listing barge. You note the phases of change passing through the outer rings of the city – London Waste, Ponders End, Brimsdown Power Station, the confluence with the Turkey Brook, Enfield Dry Dock and Enfield Lock, then Rammey Marsh and the final release of passing beneath the M25 and into the beyond.

 

filmed on 28th July 2019

Westminster Protest against Suspension of Parliament

A spontaneous protest was called after the news broke in the afternoon that the Queen had agreed to Boris Johnson’s request to suspend Parliament for five weeks, preventing MPs from debating Brexit in the run-up to 31st October deadline.

‘Stop the Coup’ was the dominant chant from the crowds in Parliament Square and on Whitehall outside 10 Downing Street. ‘When you shut down the Parliament, We shut down the Streets’ a song broke out near the Cenotaph in the dark.

A roadblock formed in Parliament Square leading to an initial angry volley from a cabbie who nearly ran me over. But after a while he settled down in his taxi scrolling through his phone, his smiling passengers departed on foot. The traffic backed up all the way along Whitehall, buses, cabs, cars, and coaches as the singing and dancing grew louder.

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I went to a pub near Trafalgar Square and quickly edited the footage above and posted to YouTube. As I returned to Parliament Square at 10.30pm a small but committed group still blocked the road surrounded by fluro-jacketed Police. They look to be settled in for the long haul.