The Invention of Essex at Wanstead Book Festival

Tim Burrows and John Rogers at Wanstead Book Festival, Wanstead Library 29th September 2023. Photo by Giles Wilson.
photo by Giles Wilson

It was a real pleasure to have an onstage conversation with Tim Burrows on Friday evening, about his recently published book, The Invention of Essex. The event was part of the Wanstead Book Festival organised by Giles Wilson as part of the Wanstead Fringe Festival – a three week celebration of arts and culture that featured around 120 events.

Tim’s book takes beneath the veneer of TOWIE and all the litany of stereotypes that have been foisted upon this complex county that seems to been a bellwether location for how the nation feels about itself. The book is also a fascinating exploration of the topography of Essex, the ‘maligned marshes’ and the deadly Essex agues.

Welcome to New London - journeys and encounters in the post-Olympic city by John Rogers at Wanstead Fringe Festival 29th September 2023

It was also the first public appearance of my new book Welcome to New London – journeys and encounters in the post-Olympic city. I believe Wanstead Bookshop has a few copies left over from last night and Newham Bookshop should have some in stock from Monday.

Welcome to New London - journeys and encounters in the post-Olympic city by John Rogers at Wanstead Fringe Festival 29th September 2023

The book is also available to pre-order on Amazon and from other booksellers using the ISBN: 9781739539207

Welcome to New London book launch

Welcome to New London

I’m delighted to announce that my new book, Welcome to New London – journeys and encounters in the post-Olympic city is being launched at the brilliant Wanstead Tap on 10th & 11th October. Tickets can be purchased here and books will be available on the night.

Book synopsis

Iain Sinclair has described Welcome to New London as, “An invaluable and informed super-tour by the Cobbett of YouTube. As immediately readable and engrossing as a Rogers film.”

After the 2012 Olympics London once again entered a period of radical change, one that some people came to see as a battle for the very soul of one of the greatest cities in the world. John Rogers embarked on a series of journeys and encounters in a quest to understand what was going on.

In ‘Welcome to New London’ John Rogers invites us to join him on a captivating voyage through the ever-changing landscapes and communities of this iconic city. As a follow-up to ‘This Other London,’ ‘Welcome to New London’ continues Rogers’ exploration of the city from a unique perspective.

The story begins in 2013 as the Olympic village in Stratford transitioned to become a new permanent settlement, and the Stratford City plan became a reality. This excursion sparks an exploration of the Olympic Park and its surrounding areas, where a wave of development is reshaping the Lower Lea Valley.

The narrative seamlessly weaves through various facets of London’s transformation, from the Focus E15 Mothers’ occupation of homes on Carpenters Estate, a poignant symbol of the housing crisis, to the global attention garnered by campaigns like Save Soho and Save Tin Pan Alley. The book also chronicles the author’s involvement in efforts to help residents of the Sweets Way Estate and other housing campaigns, offering readers an intimate look at the human stories behind London’s changing landscape.

Intriguingly, the Rogers delves into the city’s ancient history following a chance conversation with a Pearly Punk King on the rooftop of the old Foyles building. This encounter takes him through Epping Forest to the prehistory of London in the Upper Lea Valley, unearthing Bronze Age burial mounds and their significance in understanding London’s historical roots and its enduring connection to its past.

Rogers embarks on a series of walks with acclaimed writer Iain Sinclair, providing a thought-provoking commentary on London’s future. And then somehow the United Nations sent him to Peckham to explore the concept of the ‘Open City,’ tying together the book’s themes and returning to the Olympic Park as a focal point.

“Welcome to New London” is not just a book about a city; it’s a vivid, personal account of a city in flux, where the author’s passion for exploration and his commitment to bearing witness to change converge. With its richly detailed chapters and thought-provoking commentary, this book is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the dynamic and ever-evolving nature of one of the world’s greatest cities.

Please contact me via the contact form above for further info, events, interviews and any other enquiries.

Walking the fieldpaths from Epping to Harlow Old Town

It’s only eight days ago that I did this walk from Epping to Harlow Old Town in 32 degrees of heat but already it feels as if the seasons have changed. I donned a thick hoody when heading out for an evening stroll after uploading this video, yet you can see that when this walk was filmed the ground was bone dry and I was being scorched by the intense golden sun. Such are the joys of late summer walks.

Walking the lost churches of the City of London

The latest episode of my series walking the churches of the City of London, sees me go in search of the remains and sites of some of the lost churches of the City of London. Featuring: St Mildred’s, St Mary Cole, St Olave Jewry, The Great Synagogue, St Benet Sherehog, St Stephen Walbrook, and St Martin Orgar.
The route goes from Poultry near Bank Station then in a loop round Old Jewry, St Olave’s Court, and Ironmonger Lane. Then Pancras Lane, St Stephen’s Row, St Swithin’s Lane, Cannon Street, Laurence Pountney Hill, Upper Thames Street, Allhallows Lane, Hanseatic Walk, Arthur Street and Martin Lane.

Allhallows Lane, EC4 - lost churches of the City of London walk
Allhallows Lane
Site of Laurence Pountney Church - lost churches of the City of London walk
St Martin Orgar, Martin Lane - lost churches of the city of London
St Martin Orgar, Martin Lane

Many of the sites of the lost churches only survive as a blue plaque on a wall. Some as tranquil gardens and churchyards popular as lunchtime haunts. Others live on as towers embedded in the streetscape. I’m endlessly fascinated by the City of London. Each step in the City feels like a step through time, and if we listen closely, we can hear the whispers of those who walked before us, the echoes of the choirsong, the vibrations of the organs.

You can watch the whole series here