What Is A City For? KERB crates talk Kings Cross

This is an extract from a 20-minute talk I gave the other day stood on a soapbox in the KERB food market on Kings Boulevard, Kings Cross. Stood there amongst the rising towers of mammon you see parallels with the same landscape where Blake saw the golden pillars of Jerusalem rising in the field beneath Islington.

THE FIELDS from Islington to Marybone,
To Primrose Hill and Saint John’s Wood,
Were builded over with pillars of gold;
And there Jerusalem’s pillars stood.

I naturally talked about the Pen Ton Mound and Merlin’s Cave, the legend attached to St Chad’s Well just over the road from the station and also about Tooting Crater on Mars named after an area of South London. All from my book This Other London.

Urban Ramble on Absolute Radio with Geoff Lloyd

The other week I took Geoff Lloyd for an urban ramble round Soho for his show on Absolute Radio and chatted about psychogeography, topography, old maps, and the fate of Madame Jo Jo’s.

 

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Remembrance Sunday Walk

Hanwell Map

Map illustration by Nicolette Craven from This Other London – adventures in the overlooked city

This is the walk I did on Remembrance Sunday in 2012 following a neolithic trackway from Sudbury Hill to Hanwell. A walk that takes you over the summit of Horsenden Hill, according to legend the final resting place of the Saxon chieftain Horsa. Then down through Perivale where Sylvester McCoy’s Dr Who kept visiting in the late 80’s with one episode spookily referencing Horsa’s ghostly steed as told in The Legend of Horsenden Hill. Perivale was also where Horsa’s wife consorted with the little folk giving the name of ‘Fairy Vale’  (ok, there are more prosaic and plausible explanations for the name such as ‘Pure Vale’ for the quality of the corn grown there – or ‘Pear Vale’ due to the orchards).

St Mary's Perivale

Through the lychgate of St Mary’s you find this ancient church dating from 1135 with a C16th white weatherboard tower.

You pass through ‘Blood Croft’ where the bodies of seven Saxon warriors were excavated still wrapped in hemp cloaks fastened by bronze brooches (did they die in the epic battle between Horsa and his rival Bren who had married then dishonoured Horsa’s daughter Ealine? The point where Bren forded the river and was slain in battle took his name – Brentford)

The walk ends beneath the great cathedral of the Industrial Age – Brunel’s Wharnecliffe Viaduct opened in 1837 – the first Grade I listed building in the country. Stand beneath its cavernous arches and hear the whoosh of the turbo trains bound for Slough.

 

From This Other London – adventures in the overlooked city