27 Dec 2018

1930s Art Deco and Modernism

Streamline Moderne
What is Art Deco?
Do you like cantilevered simplicity or Jazz Age geometrics?
Do you "ooh" every time you drive past The Hoover Factory?
Do you "wow" when you see Senate House?
Do you yearn to live in a house with interiors to rival Eltham Palace?
There is not just one design ideal for this period – we’ve all got a different take it beacuse "Art Deco" has become a catch-all term for the mid20s to pre-WW2; a time of change when architects were keen to move away from the fussy embellishments and drapery of the past.
You might be surprised to learn that he term "Art Deco" was not coined until 1968 by Bevis Hillier when he referred to this period in reference to the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts that took place in Paris, 1925. But the term is a bit misleading, especially in regard to architecture, as most of the buildings that carry the tag are lacking in decoration – it's all about simplicity of line with a bit of geometric ornamentation here and there. One could argue that the only style that fits the description is the Egyptian temple revival. However, Art Deco also covers tiled factory fa├žades, temples to industry, Portland stone banks, minimalist shop fronts, ocean liner office blocks and impressive department stores.

Join me on one of my ArtDeco/1930s walking tours to find out more. I have pounded the streets and discovered many unsung gems. These I have collected into a series of "Art Deco era" tours (or should we say, early 20th Century architecture tours?) and I am sure on every walk you will find something that gives you that 'wow' moment. Here's my hand-drawn map of some of my routes:


The map above only shows the central zone – I also offer ArtDeco/1930s tours in City, Shoreditch, Spitalfields, Holloway, Arsenal and Camden. Others almost ready: Angel, Finsbury, St Lukes, Marylebone, Paddington, Victoria, and more. Please see here for more information or subscribe for updates here.

Customer reviews and feedback
"Enjoyed all the 6 Art deco walks I have done so far and opened my eyes to the 30s style of architecture which more varied than I thought. Looking forward to doing more walks in the future.:

And here's a review from my tripAdvisor page about my Art Deco Holloway walk:
My Holloway tour includes the marvellous neon sign shown right. This night-time image and a day time shot of the building are available as cards and prints at various sizes. I've got a lot more images of ArtDeco buildings available in print form inc the Carreras factory at Mornington Crescent and The Carlton Cinema in Essex Rd. See my online shop here. Or contact me to make a purchase in person.

2 Dec 2018

Canal boat tours along the Regent's Canal


I am the designated tour guide for Hidden Depths.

Three boats are available for hire – Lapwing takes 14 people and Joan and Freda can accommodate 40. 
Trips start at the foot of Granary Steps, Kings Cross. 
Tours can be organised to go west towards Camden or east through Islington Tunnel to City Road Basin. 
For more details, please visit the Hidden Depths website or talk to Barbara on 07456 084584.

Thanks to everyone who came along on our Save The Swans fund-raising event in September 2018. It was such an enjoyable day. 
We raised approx £1000 to care for birds injured on our waterways.

1 Dec 2018

The Diary Of A Nobody

This 90-minute tour shows you the inspiration behind the places and characters created by the brothers Grossmiths in their amusing little book
I have read it, ooh, eight times now. And each time I have noticed something new, perhaps in the form of an amusing reference to a nearby place with a clever name-change, or satirical hint at something that was topical or relevant back in the 1880s. The world of 130 years ago really isn't that far removed from today. 
The prep for this walk was extensive but really enjoyable – I spent a lot of time absorbed in old directories and I was often to be found wandering up and down the top half of Holloway Rd like some kind of private detective as I scribbled notes and hunted for the best locations to tie in with the Grossmiths' narrative. But it's all been worth it as I have always had lovely feedback from the people who have joined me on these tours.
So why not join me sometime soon? 
We'll visit places where Mr Pooter and his family and friends might have lived, visited and shopped. Along the way I point out buildings and references whilst reading some relevant amusing passages from the book. It's a delight!! (Even though I do say this myself!)

You don't need to know or have already read the book to enjoy the walk, but I am pretty sure that you will be reading it after the tour!

For literary fans – why not try my Lyrics and Limericks, Fantasy and Fraud walk which takes us through Holloway showcasing the diverse range of poets, playwrights, diarists and lyricists who have lived and worked in the Holloway area.

Customer reviews and feedback

*This walk is usually available as part of Footprints of London's  yearly LitFest which offers at least one literary-themed walk a day – like a walking book club, taking people out onto the streets of London on guided walks researched, written and led by enthusiastic, experienced, professional guides. You might have seen the marvellous leaflets I designed for 2017!

23 Oct 2018

Thanks to everyone who came along on my Hallowe'en ghost-themed walks on Wed 31st October as part of the Islington Council event on Navigator Square.

I got some really great feedback including this tweet from Flora: "Loved loved loved the Files! Thanks for the tour. And a great use of our fab new space at Navigator Square."

22 Apr 2018

Jane's London – it's all in the details


My walking tours are a natural progression of Jane's London – my blog/website where for the past decade I have been writing about my London observations and marrying them with collections of my photos such as this collection of 'white' places in to tie in with the snowy weather we had in March 2018. 

19 Apr 2018

Press coverage


Islington Tribune Great hints on history

Islington Gazette Business of the week

Islington Now People have turned into pigeons


Ghostsigns

Ghostsigns are the faded advertisements of yesteryear still visible above today's streets mostly in the form of hand-painted letters on brick walls. These were commissioned either by well-known companies to sell their branded products or by local businesses keen to attract passing trade. The signs would have been hand-painted by specialist, skilled craftsmen, often using the lines in the brickwork as guides for the size of the letterforms as shown in the example I have created here. This hand-crafted and labour-intensive form of advertising might seem strange to us today, with our large-format printing, lightboxes and interactive bus shelter ads, but 100 years ago signs such as this one were commonplace – in fact, high street buildings were barely visible beneath the paint and posters.
On my ghostsign tours you'll hear the often fascinating stories behind the ads including bogus potions, big brands and small traders.
I think the 'ghostsign' term can also apply to other types of defunct signage for brands or businesses which no longer exist at that site. These might be visible as names embedded into masonry or forged within metalwork.

Camden, Kentish Town, Covent Garden & Soho, Kings Cross, Holloway, Regents Canal, Archway and Angel/Upper Street.
Other areas coming soon.

See here for more about ghostsigns.

Can you help me to decipher this one in Islington?

Customer reviews and feedback

17 Apr 2018

Coming soon

See here for an overview of all pre-planned tours by type and location

I have many more ideas for new themes and ideas for walking tours and some of the works-in-progress are listed below. 
  • Thames Path and mudlarking – see more here
  • Sights for Sore Eyes – all things optical (CharingX area)
  • A-Zs by location/area – overviews – 26 subjects in 2 hours max! 
  • Art Deco – more!!! – Highgate, Clerkenwell, Somerstown, Marylebone, Mayfair and more...
  • Parks and Recreation (Islington North)
  • Pop Goes The Weasel – up or down the City Road 
  • More ghostsign tours – Shoreditch, Fitzrovia, Marylebone... 
  • Locations, Locations, Locations / Making Movies
  • Frogs and Sheep – St Mary's Islington to The City
  • Parallel Paths (more info to follow)
  • Fabulous Fonts and Friendly Faces – the printing and clock-making industries of Clerkenwell 
  • Islington On The Edge (walking the border of the borough, though in sections) 
  • A Slice of Islington
  • It's Hip to Be Square – Bloomsbury/Fitzrovia/Barnsbury squares etc 
  • Bury me in Islington – inc Canonbury, Highbury and Barnsbury 
  • Hackney Brook – Holloway to Arsenal 
  • New River Walk – Islington to Tottenham (4hr walk either way) 
  • Little Red Bus – a series of five walking tours following the route of the 153 bus (Finsbury Park to Finsbury Square) with a few deviations to see some interesting and not so well-known places along the way. The route will be split in route into 90-minute walking sections.
  • Please also see the News and Events section
If you are interested in any of the above and can organise a group of people* please do get in touch for more info as most of the above can swiftly pulled together and arranged at a mutually convenient date.

If you have ideas of your own, perhaps a particular subject or theme that you are interested in that would make a good walking tour, then please do get in touch. Here are a few ideas – women, artists, animals, shops, churches, children, music, health.

Customer reviews and feedback

During the summer months I sometimes provide guided commentary (when required) on Hidden Depths canalboat tours which moor at Granary Steps, Kings Cross. 
Many tours go through the 200-year Islington Tunnel – a wonderful experience through a marvellous feat of clever engineering. Boat trips can be booked for parties and events. Please contact Hidden Depths for more information 

*For pre-designed tours the booking fee is £60 which includes places for the first 6 people. Extra tickets are £10 each up to a max of 20 people per group. However, please note that new/bespoke walks may incur an additional charge to cover any extra research and development – please enquire for more info.

11 Jan 2018

Every year in October we host our Literary Festivaltaking people out of the pages and onto the streets of London, sort of like a walking-talking bookclub.
There's something for everyone, from Sherlock Holmes to Samuel Pepys via Charles Dickens and the Bloomsbury Set.
For my part, in 2018 I offered my Limericks and Limericks, Fantasy and Fraud and my Diary Of A Nobody (Mr Pooter's Holloway) and these will be available again in 2019, indeed they are still available outside October so do check my listings.
There is usually a fantastic money-saving voucher offer in the form of a Season Ticket. so do look out for that because, quite frankly, it's a bargain and you get to attend as many of the LitFest walks as you like – hell, why not go on them all...?!