Pub Chat from the George, Wanstead

London Pub Chat – Old Traditions, Best Walks, Tube Problems etc.

Sunday chat over a pint in the historic George pub in Wanstead, East London. There’s been a pub on this site since at least 1716 (see the shot of a historic sign on the side of the pub) and it’s reported that Wetherspoons have put the lease up for sale. Read more here
While drinking a pint of Adnams Ghost Ship I answer some of your questions and generally chat about London. Some of the topics covered include:

  • Old London Traditions such as the Knollys Rose Ceremony
  • encounter with the magical walking elf
  • the proliferation of St Mary’s Churches along the Thames from Battersea to Rotherhithe
  • Soho in the 1950s and Iain Sinclair’s Pariah Genius
  • visits to North America and the Continent
  • Favourite tube stations
  • Problems on the Central Line
  • Hugenots in London
  • Roman London around Westminster
  • Best gig memory
  • What does it take to be a good Londoner

National Park City – Walking Week Talk

John Rogers illustration by Liam O'Farrell
Painting by Liam O’Farrell

Back in early May I had the pleasure of giving a talk about my new book, Welcome to New London – journeys and encounters in the post-Olympic city for London National Park City as part of Walking Week. The venue was a disused chain coffee shop on Fleet Street, just yards away from where the River Fleet flows beneath Farringdon Road. It was a great evening.

The wonderful artist Liam O’Farrell attended and created the fantastic painting you see above (ok, I’m biased) and wrote a blog post about the event and the book. I’m enormously grateful to Liam for both. You can read Liam’s post here and visit his online gallery of London artworks here.

National Park City event Fleet Street
National Park City event Fleet Street

Screening: London Recorder: William English / Emily Richardson / John Rogers / Andrew Vallance

Hackney Wick sign

Delighted to be screening an extract from my 2021 Hackney Wick video at this great programme at the brilliant Close-Up cinema, curated by Contact.

Programme details from the Close-Up website below:
Films that cover several regions of London, including the outer edges of Hackney, the centre of the city and Brixton. 

Hackney Wick: The Changing Face of London
John Rogers, 2021, 12 min (extract)
Hackney Wick: The Changing Face of London represents one of John Rogers’ ‘London walks’, which he publishes on his YouTube channel. It looks at the changes in Hackney Wick since the video he last made there in October 2016. The tour of Hackney Wick starts at the edge of the Olympic Park, on the site of the former Hackney Stadium, and explores the legacy of the area.

Memo Mori
Emily Richardson, 2009, 23 min
A journey through Hackney tracing loss and disappearance assembled from fragments of footage shot over three years (2006–2009). Each section of the film observes something that has been, or is about to be, erased from the landscape. A seismic shift in the topography of East London takes in a canoe trip along canals, allotments in Hackney Wick, a magical bus tour through the Olympic Park and a Hell’s Angel funeral. Richardson’s observational images are woven together with Iain Sinclair’s response to her images and excerpts from his book Hackney, That Red Rose Empire.

Yesterday the Revolution Began
Andrew Vallance, 2024, 1 min
Planned and casual, personal and collective, moments mark time’s flow. For most people in London, the 13th of December 1995 started out like any other day of the week. Yesterday the Revolution Began recalls several instances from the date that marked the start of one of the Brixton riots.

William English, 2018, 19 min
City is principally filmed from a 14th floor flat, in bursts of single film frames. Looking down on busy crane operators, roadworks, underground excavations and tree-surgeons, the footage spans markedly different seasons, and was shot across a period of nearly twenty years (between 1986 and 2015). The second half of the film shifts to abstracted footage in negative and includes darting arcs of light that make for a purely optical ‘city film’.

Andrew Vallance, 2024, 9 min
After dark, London takes on a different form, when work, leisure and other activities diverge from daylight expectations. Here, new sensibilities emerge and time and space, sight and sound, are recalibrated. Night-line pursues the nocturnal city, from dusk to the early morning, locating a place that envelops and haunts you.

William English, Emily Richardson and Andrew Vallance will be in conversation after the screening.
Programmed by Contact:

Walking the Mardyke Way from Purfleet to Bulphan

A couple of weeks ago I returned to the border of Greater London to walk the Mardyke Way. This ancient river has followed the same course for over 30 million years. Today it carves a path through the Essex countryside on the edge of London. The route I took from Purfleet was around 11-miles followed by around another 3 miles to West Horndon Station. This is great walk through fields, meadows and fens.

Aveley - Mardyke Way

I started at Purfleet to capture the point of the Mardyke’s confluence with the Thames. It has an impressive wide mouth, partly marked by the huge brick 18th Century gunpowder magazine. From here there’s a path beside the river for a relatively short distance before I needed to embark on a wide detour along Tank Hill Road to the village of Aveley. The Old Ship Inn marked the start of Ship Lane with its impressive St. Michael’s Church, the oldest parts of which date from the 12th century.

St. Michael's Church Aveley
St. Michael’s Church Aveley
Mardyke Way sign at Aveley

A mile or so along Ship Lane from Aveley you can find the start of the Mardyke Valley path to Stifford. From here the route closely follows the course of the river passing through fields and fringing woodland.

Mardyke Way

It appeared that the walk had two sections – from Aveley to Davy Down then Stifford Bridge to Bulphan but there’s a walkable path the entire way with only short overgrown areas. There were vast expanses of farmland to the East of the river leading up to Orsett Fen and then beyond into Bulphan and far fewer walkers and cyclists in these upper reaches. It was blazing hot, my neck and calves toasted in the sun.

Harrow Bridge Bulphan - Mardyke Way
Harrow Bridge Bulphan

Harrow Bridge at Bulphan marks one end of the Mardyke Way but it did appear possible to follow the river little further north along the roadside. The promised footpath across fields to West Horndon Station didn’t manifest in reality on the ground despite signs at either end (or at least I could’t find it), meaning I had a precarious at times 2.5-mile walk along Dunnings Lane. An incredible walk that has added to my understanding of the landscape around the fringe of London.

Albion Island Vortex revived – Iain Sinclair’s Histories and Hauntings

Legendary London writer Iain Sinclair takes us on a tour of his exhibition, Histories and Hauntings, at Swedenborg House in Central London. Histories and Hauntings was partly a re-staging of an exhibition that Iain Sinclair organised at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1974 with Brian Catling, Renchi Bicknell, Sam Torrance and others, Albion Island Vortex, but with the addition of subsequent works that continue the themes of that highly influential show.

Iain Sinclair - Albion Island Vortex
Stephen McNeilly and Iain Sinclair at Swedenborg House - December 2023
Stephen McNeilly and Iain Sinclair at Swedenborg House
Iain Sinclair, Histories and Hauntings - Swedenborg House
Iain Sinclair, Histories and Hauntings - Swedenborg House
Iain Sinclair, Histories and Hauntings - Swedenborg House

Filmed by John Rogers December 2023.

Thanks to Iain Sinclair, Stephen McNeilly, and Victor Rees

Speaking at Dalloway Day – Hatchards Piccadilly

I’m delighted to be celebrating Dalloway Day at the brilliant Hatchards Piccadilly on 22nd June 2024. I’ll be in conversation with writer Matthew Beaumont “to reflect on walking in London both in Mrs Dalloway’s 1920s and today.”

“In people’s eyes, in the swing, tramp, and trudge; in the bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment of June.” Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf

Tickets available here

Walking the Counters Creek – lost rivers of London

Lost river walk that links two of the magnificent seven

The Counters Creek has haunted me for a few years, just as the lost rivers of London collectively haunt London. It was there as a presence when I’d documented the protests to save the communities and buildings in Earls Court in 2015 & 2016. It reverberated beneath the tombstones of Brompton Cemetery when I filmed Andrew Kötting dressed as Straw Bear drifting through the portico. And one possible source of the Counters Creek was a marker on my psychogeographic sound trail around Kensal Rise for Brent 2020 London Borough of Culture. So I was well overdue a walk along its course.

Source of the Counters Creek - Kensal Rise has a Story plaque - John Rogers Brent 2020
One possible source of the Counters Creek on the Brondesbury Ridge
Kensal Green Cemetery Chapel - Counters Creek Walk
Kensal Green Cemetery Chapel – near the source of the Counters Creek

The recognised source of the Counters Creek is not up on the Brondesbury Ridge at the junction of All Souls Avenue and Chamberlayne Road, although it seems highly likely that springs from this high ground feed into the river. Both Nicholas Barton in his classic Lost Rivers of London, and Tom Bolton in London’s Lost Rivers – a Walkers Guide, place the source in Kensal Green Cemetery hidden beneath a large stone slab. From here it crosses the Grand Union Canal and flows across Little Wormwood Scrubs, beneath the Westway and down through Notting Dale, the edge of Holland Park to Olympia (where I stopped for a pint and accidentally realised the pub was close to the Countess’ Bridge that gave the river its contemporary name), Earls Court, Brompton Cemetery, Fulham Road, Kings Road, Lots Road, before making a glorious confluence with the Thames in its above ground guise as Chelsea Creek.

Counters Creek Walk
Interestingly, Nicholas Barton only dedicates one paragraph to the Counters Creek
Grand Union Canal - Counters Creek Walk
I was guided along the course of the Counters Creek by Tom Bolton’s brilliant London’s Lost Rivers – a walker’s guide published by Strange Attractor Press

It truly is one of the great lost river walks – not as celebrated as the Fleet, Tyburn, Westbourne, or Effra – but certainly worthy of a song as Paul Whitehouse had improvised from the deck of a Thames Clipper as we filmed a chat about the Thames and passed the confluence. It’s a shame that song never made the final cut of Episode 2 of Our Troubled Rivers. But the song of the Counters Creek can still be felt rising through its culvert beneath the streets of west London.

John Rogers and Paul Whitehouse
John Rogers and Paul Whitehouse during the filming of Paul Whitehouse Our Troubled Rivers