9 Jan 2020

Walk descriptions – A-Z by title/subject/area

All walks are designed to last just under 2 hrs (minimum 90 mins)

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The Angel's Ancient Taverns – Showmen, Strength and Speed
Angel Islington and lower half of Upper Street
 

Back in 1630, this area, though still mostly rural, already boasted eleven public houses and, just like today, each establishment offered its own special kind of entertainment designed to tempt the passing punter or weary traveller. The Angel Inn was one of three transport hubs within a quarter of a mile, all catering to people travelling North or East. As tastes changed so did the public houses. We'll visit coaching inns, beer houses and theatre pubs. You'll hear about speedy coaches, specialist foods, spectacular feats of strength and daredevils on horseback. Plus stories about boxing champions, unfeasibly old men, death and destruction, board games, and famous visitors to the area including well-known writers and royalty. Please note, this is not a pub crawl. There'll be plenty of time for that after the walk (!!)

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ART DECO – please click here for separate list

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Art Nouveau – Soho/CoventGarden coming soon

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Christmas in Covent Garden – Magical Markets and Twinking Trees
Strand to to Trafalgar Sq via Covent Gdn Piazza and Seven Dials 

At Christmas-time our shopping streets and squares become festooned with pretty Christmas lights and decorations – it makes everything look so gorgeous, warm and welcoming. But, have you ever wondered why we drag fir trees into our homes, eat mince pies or kiss under the mistletoe? Why is Father Christmas called 'Santa' and why does he wear red? Learn about about the origins of our Christmas traditions on a twinkly trail through little lanes, alluring avenues and sparkly squares. Hear about the streets of old as you marvel at today's fabulous displays. We'll look at hotels, shops and restaurants and there'll be lots of photo opportunities along the way. Our journey finishes in Trafalgar Square by the big Christmas tree and the Christmas market – perfect for a glass of mulled wine and a few seasonal treats.  

Customer feedback:"Fabulous walk. Jane is full of fascinating historical and current information. Wandering about the best bits of the West End all lit up for the festive holiday is fun and perfect for Christmas. Jane guides you around the back streets with endless stories so it's easy to slip back into another era and imagine how the city once looked at different times during its evolution. Also an opportunity to meet other like-minded people. I love drifting around London with Jane"

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Creative Islington – An Inspirational Tour 
St Mary's church, Upper Street to Angel tube station

As this sign around the old Angel tube station on City Road says, "Do what you love; love what you do". Would you like to try your hand at something new? Is there a budding actor, dancer or comedian in there? Have you always fancied joining an art class but just didn't know where to go? Would you like to make your own clothes, forge your own door number or carve your own memorial? Then this is the tour for you! We'll take inspiration from shops, businesses and schools in this area of Islington and I will do my best to point you in the right direction re courses and further information. Click here for more

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Crouch End – It's All In The details 
Circular from Hornsey Town Hall 

This tour links some of the buildings I have photographed for my cards and prints. The Town Hall and its adjacent buildings are decorated with marvelllous Art Deco reliefs by Arthur Ayres whose work features on some of my Art Deco walks in central London. We'll also look at the library, a couple of pubs, some ghostsigns of various kinds and, of course, the marvellous clocktower. I'll also talk about other well-known places that are close by such as The Dairy at Stroud Green and Ally Pally. Cards will be available on the day at a cheaper than advertised price.

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The Diary Of A Nobody – Mr Pooter's Holloway
Upper Holloway to Nag's Head shopping centre  

The Diary of a Nobody is a much-loved amusing work of fiction created in 1888 by the artistic brothers George and Weedon Grossmith. It originally appeared as a column in Punch magazine and, due to its popularity, the brothers added more chapters and a book was published in 1892. It is still in print today and has often been adapted as plays and TV productions.
This guided tour brings fiction to life to take you around the late-Victorian middle-class Upper Holloway that Mr Charles Pooter and co, had they been real people, might have experienced. Many buildings and hints of that era are still with us today. We'll look at real sites and, by comparing the street directories of that area, we'll get an idea where the Grossmiths' amusing characters might have purchased some of the items mentioned in the book. We'll consider where the Pooters could have lived, how they travelled, and what they ate and drank (and they seemed to drink quite a lot!).
Ang the way, I'll read some short excerpts from the book to highlight Charles's silly arguments with his wife, his maid, the ironmonger, the butter man, the shirt dresser and the stationer. I hope you'll also laugh (or groan and roll your eyes) at some of his clunky puns – I'll be adding a few more pun-tastic observations of my own.
You don't need to have already read the book to enjoy this tour, but I am sure you'll want to afterwards. 

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The Elephants Escape – Oh What a Circus!
Gospel Oak to Archway/TufnellPark 

In 1884 the circus came to Kentish Town. Many of the animals arrived by train and, during the unloading process, Ida and Palm, two of the four performing elephants, got spooked, crashed through a gate, and fled through the nearby streets, causing mayhem along the way. Their journey ended in N19 where the pair became trapped in a basement space between two residential houses. Luckily, although there were some extraneous casualties along the way, the beasts were not harmed and, after being rescued, they made their way to the circus site and the show went on as planned, no doubt better-attended than previously expected. 

This walking tour follows the elephants' rampage to see the kind of obstacles the pair would have experienced along the way (note that we will be walking at a leisurely speed, not actually rampaging or running!). We'll trace their route from start to finish, along narrow little alleys and cobbled lanes and up and down the hilly streets of Dartmouth Park. I'll read from newpaper clippings of the period and you'll hear about one of the biggest circuses in the world run by the real "Greatest Showman" whose company was a favourite of Queen Victoria. You'll also see some lovely Georgian houses including a row of small cottages saved from demolition. And, as per my other walks, I will be pointing out other things of interest along the way including ghostsigns and film locations – it all helps to make this a really evocative tour.

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Egypt in London (two tours)
Embankment to Oxford Circus / Oxford Circus to Bloomsbury 

See Deco walks here

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The Only Way Is Essex Road
Islington Green to Ball's Pond 

This often overlooked thoroughfare is littered with wonderful historical gems, interesting buildings and intriguing stories. We walk the full length of the road (just over one mile) stopping to look at historical sites to see how this important road has evolved over the centuries. You'll see a variety of interesting buildings and developments including theatrical and social housing, a swimming pool, a cloned church and an Egyptian Temple. And you'll hear about an innovative market, an early care home, various alcoholic beverages, Georgian lino and amazing Tudor houses. It's a marvellous mixed bag... but then so is Islington.

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Estates and Social Housing
See Look at the Estate We're In

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Finsbury Park – A Park For the People
A walk in the park, London N4 

A Victorian park in Harringey created for the people of Finsbury and Islington when this was part of Hornsey. We'll take a stroll inside the park to see how bandstands, roller skating, crysanthemums and model villages have, over time, gradually been replaced to suit more modern interests. Find out about the plans that never happened, putting greens, swans and another rampaging elephant. Also learn how the park was utilised during WWII and marvel at the  changes made in more recent years to rectify the neglect and vandalism of the late C20th. Starts near Finsbury Park station and ends near Manor House station.

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Finsbury Park – Victoria, Variety and Vaudeville
Circular route from the station around the general area  

This area of north London was, until the 1850s, just a rural area between The City and Hertfordshire. First, the railways came, followed swiftly by the Piccadilly tube line and then the park itself, which gave the area its name. within about ten years the area had became very popular, inundated with day-trippers as well as people wanting to move to this suburban district of clean air and open spaces with excellent transport connections. Developers quickly covered the previously empty fields with rows of respectable houses and its main roads became lined with businesses and places of entertainment. Find out more on a walk around the backstreets and through a bit of the park to look at the hints of history still visible today.

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French Soho – Cocteau, Bertaux, Huguenot
Soho Square to Leicester Square 

Find out how this famous village in central London has evolved through the past few centuries. Especially learn about its French community which was once much larger than today's Chinatown. Hear about specialist restaurants, café society, cakes, tarts, education and religion.

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GHOSTSIGNS 
Definition: ghosted or faded signs of the past; faded, ghosted signs of products or companies that are no longer relevant today or to that specific site. More here.

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Ghostsigns of Camden – Gin, Drugs and Shopping
Mornington Crescent to The Roundhouse via Camden Lock

Potions and lotions, beds and breakfast, bacon, booze and bars. Hear about Camden's varied history. Find out about bygone businesses, huge warehouses and manufactories, breweries, bakers, artists, chemists and furnishers. Plus breakfast cereals, pain relief and chewing gum. We'll mostly be in the back streets so please don't fret about shoppers and tourists in the busy main drag – there'll only be one short section when we might have to negotiate crowds and I havent' lost anyone yet.

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Ghostsigns of Covent Garden and Soho  

Today, London's centre, is mostly lined with shops, bars and retail outlets selling fashion, coffee, food and gadgets. But look above pavement level to see hints of how these streets were once home to a diverse range of tradesmen and services. Follow a trail of old signage – some hand-painted directly onto walls, others embedded within masonry or printed onto metal – to discover the bygone businesses behind the advertisements. Find out about hospitality and hardware, horses and horsepower. Learn about printers, artists, woodworkers, billiard halls and, perhaps, the only kind of businesses that still thrive in this area today; cafés, restaurants and hotels.

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Ghostsigns of Holloway   

There is a very good cross-section of ghostsigns the London N7 area, especially along the A1 Holloway Road, the connecting route between the City of London and The North – a perfect conduit for advertisements and signage. Starting near Holloway Odeon we'll make our way south as we look at old signs advertising medicinal products, estate agents, musical instruments, the military, cafés and hairdressing. A couple of handpainted-signs that made it through WWII have been over-painted since I first design and researched this tour in 2018, but I will still include them as the stories behind the products are so good. There's every chance the lettering will reappear as the modern paint peels away over time.

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Ghostsigns of Islington – Make Walking a Pleasure
Angel Islington and Upper Street area 

This area is rich in old signage. And there's a good reason for that, which I will explain on the tour. We start near Islington Town Hall by one of the sites that first got me interested in this hand-painted form of advertising. And from there we take a meandering route to end up a stone's throw from Angel tube station. Along the way I'll point out some marvellously preserved old signage and you'll hear about a diverse range of products and businesses, such as childrens' toys, rubber mats, bogus potions and men's hats. I will also point out other types of 'ghostsigns' along the way. The title of this walk is taken from one of the signs you'll see on the tour.

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Ghostsigns of Kentish Town – Wireworks to Waterworks
Camden Town station to Kentish Town station (or vice-versa)

We think of Kentish Town as being the area around the station but it actually started further south around St Pancras Old Church, just north of the main railway station of the same name. The village became a town and spread in a linear fashion northwards towards Highgate. This walk starts and finishes adjacent to two different railway lines. Youll see how transport connections via rail, and via canal, played a big part in altering the façades of previously well-to-do Georgian streets. front gardens became shops, back gardens became manufactories. Kentish Town Road and the streets around it has many hints of history hiding in plain view and the stories behind the old signs are intriguing 

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Ghostsigns of King's Cross – Scales, Weights and Weighing Machines
Circular from Kings Cross Station 

When the trainlines arrived here in the mid-1850s businesses were quick to move in and seize the opportunity, whether as a good location for manufacture and distribution or as great location to open a restaurant or a shop. By the 1880s, the brickwork on many façades was barely visible beneath a patchwork of hand-painted lettering advertising all kinds of products including breakfast foods, motor oil, newspapers and precision instruments. We'll look at some marvellous examples that still cling to the walls – innovative inventions, Italian dining rooms, alcohol, boot polish and bogus potions. You'll also hear about the signmakers themselves and we'll look at the HQ of one of the companies who managed the lucrative advertising sites. 

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Ghostsigns of Regent's Canal, Islington – Boxes, Babies, Beans and Bras
Angel tube station to The Rosemary Branch, Southgate Road 

A wander along, above and around the Regents Canal in Islington following a trail of old painted signs that hint at the area's rich history. We'll be looking mostly at hand-painted-onto-walls signs including the one shown here. See and hear about a diverse range of companies and products from ladies' underwear and fancy boxes to metals and ceramics.

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Ghostsigns of Upper Holloway – Bygone Brands & Businesses
Archway tube to Upper Holloway station, N19

This pic gives you an idea how the top section of Holloway Road would have looked 100 years ago with posters and signage covering shop fronts and any available spare surface. Join me to see the hints of old businesses in the area following a trail of hand-painted signs, embedded lettering and personalised metal. Most of these signs were probably the work of one local tradesman who would have also produced hanging signs and promotional material. Starts near Archway tube and ends near Upper Holloway Station.

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Green and Pleasant Islington – Open Spaces, Hidden Places
Highbury and Islington station to Holloway station

This is a tour about flora and fauna. Islington is one of the least green London boroughs by percentage size but the open spaces it does have are as diverse as its residents, offering outdoor facilities and hidden corners for all ages and all tastes. We start near the newly-revamped Highbury Corner junction (which is always cause for debate!) and then we make our way via a circuitous route up to Holloway Road tube station keeping as much as possible off the beaten track and away from the busy streets. We visit open fields, an award-winning park, a hidden garden, a community playground, farms old and new, a churchyard, sports fields and shady meadows. Plus renovation, reclamation, rejuvenation and recycling. Oh, and dogs too. I'll also point out some other tenuously-linked green things which should raise a smile. I have heard locals who have lived in the area for decades exclaim, "ooh... I had no idea this was here... how lovely; it's so peaceful".

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Green and Pleasant 
Newington Green to Highbury Fields via Ball's Pond 

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HOLLOWAY
Also see: Irish / Green & Pleasant / The Diary of a Nobody / Inns &Taverns /
Art Deco Holloway here

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Holloway – The Oxford Street Of The North
Holloway Tube station and the Nag's Head shopping area
 

This is a time-travelling guided walk taking us back to a time when Holloway was a highly respectable neighbourhood for the upwardly-mobile middle classes – an era when the Nag’s Head shopping area of Holloway was affectionately known as “The Oxford Street Of The North” due to its excellent shopping and top-end entertainment.
We'll look back at an era of beautiful shop fronts with impressive displays behind curved glass, framed in polished brass with hand-painted signage. A time of courteous live-in staff wearing immaculate white starched aprons or uniforms. Hear about palatial variety theatres, gin palaces, trams and innovative transport, tea rooms, banqueting halls and the early labyrinthine department stores. Learn how one department store grew to be one of the best-known shops in North London, succeeding into the twentieth century. And find out about its Victorian rival just around the corner which was an even larger, more impressive and, possibly, more successful store at that time.
Today's Holloway may not be as visually impressive as it was back then but it’s still got plenty to offer – hints of the historical gems are hiding in plain view just waiting to be appreciated. 

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The Inns & Taverns of Holloway Road (two tours)
Archway to Nags Head / Nags Head to Highbury&Islington

This covers at least 30 pubs down the A1 through Holloway.  Available as two tours with a one-hour break between them. Each tour starts and ends at or near a pub and includes a brief 10-15 minute drink stop at another interesting pub along the route. Hear about the road's early history as a cattle route to Smithfield Market, find out about the delicacies available when Samuel Pepys visited, and learn why some streets were so-named. Depending on which section you attend, you'll hear about stuffed cats, cock-fighting, gin palaces, live music, local ales, billiards, politics, writers and mail coaches.

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The Irish In Islington 
Circular from Archway tube station, N19

Irish people have been settling in north London for centuries – a community that has become one of the largest this side of the Irish Sea. On this tour we look at how the Archway area has evolved thanks to these vibrant and hard-working people. We'll look at the places they have lived, worked, prayed, relaxed and partied, and along the way we'll consider poverty, politics, navvies and nurses.  

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ISLINGTON 
Please see title names: Angel / Creative / Irish / Green & Pleasant
/ Art Deco here

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Kings Cross & The Ladykillers
Locations and comparisons with the 1955 Ealing comedy

Join me to compare locations used in the marvellous 1955 film with what we see today. Using film stills, maps and archive images I'llshow you how things have changed (or not) in this area. We'll visit Mrs Wilberforce's street and other locations used in the film by tracing the movie's heist route past B&Bs and big brands up to the railway line used near the end of the film. We might even see a steam train if we are lucky. And we probably be singing music from the film along the way. The 21st century brought big changes to the area and the district has evolved from a filthy industrial transport hub popluated by the working classes into a hub for the arts, entertainment and technology. Station canopies have been added, roads have been re-aligned, the gas holders have been dismantled and partially re-sited, shopping and art have replaced coal and grain. However, some of the nearby streets and junctions still look almost the same as in the movie and you'll be surprised how much is still discernable. 

Customer feedback: "Enjoyable and informative. We were able to visit the locations used to make the film and compare with lots of illustrations... We departed wanting to again see the original Ladykillers film to relive the walk"

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Literary Holloway Poets, Playwrights and Punks
Holloway tube station to Upper Holloway station

A mixed bag showcasing the diverse range of writers and innovative creatives who have lived and worked in the Holloway area across the centuries. Hear about publishers, inventors, artists, authors, musicians, diarists and thieves. Plus drinking, dancing, sufferance and nonsense.  

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Look at The Estate We're In Philanthropy and Social Housing
Essex Road to Highbury & Islington via UpperSt and Barnsbury

This architectural appreciation tour showcases different kinds of well-designed social housing in the London Borough of Islington. We'll visit an interesting cross-section of estates, from impressive Victorian, Edwardian and pre-WWII dwellings made possible by innovative benefactors and independent housing trusts to early London County Council developments and LBI's more recent schemes. Hear about the philanthropists and architects who helped to bring about a sense of pride and well-being. 

Customer feedback: "Jane's passion for the subject matter shone through with humour, perception, humanity and fascinating detail. I'd highly recommend this walk"

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Look at The Estate We're In Westminster  – coming soon

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Look at The Estate We're In CovGdn/Soho – coming soon 

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New River Path
Finsbury Park and Woodberry Down   

Starting at the northern end of Finsbury Park, we following the 400 year-old waterway's meandering course offering marvellous views along the way. Enjoy the feeling of being in the countryside, yet only a few miles from central London. This section overlooks interesting light industrial zones and skims past busy streets. Hear about the waterway, both as an amazing feat of engineering and as a recreational attraction. Learn about the nearby buildings and businesses as you enjoy the wonderful flora and fauna in the area. We end near Finsbury Park Station. 

Finsbury Park to Canonbury, and Canonbury to Sadler's Wells coming soon    

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NEWINGTON GREEN – please see Green

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The Only Way Is Essex Rd – please see Essex Road 

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Parks, Pubs and Pianos
Caledonian Park to Kentish Town (or vice versa)

This lovely backstreet route keeps us as much as possible off the main roads. We'll start at the old market site where you'll hear about its history whilst taking in the marvellous view to the south. Then we'll walk through well-planned housing estates, down little alleys and into secluded gardens. We'll look at re-purposed Victorian public houses and see evidence of the large piano-making industry here. Hear about a haunted hostelry and a famous murder case. See ghosts of the past in old signage. Discover a street that will make you feel as if you have travelled back in time and, in other streets, be enlightened by the multi-coloured tones.  

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REGENTS CANAL 
Please see title names: Ghostsigns / Waterways

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Social Housing
See Look at the Estate We're In

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SOHO 
Please see title names: French / Art Nouveau / Italian
/ Art Deco here

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The Strand's Sculptural Delights
Charing Cross to Aldwych

Architectural embellishments and marvellous memorials 

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Vouchers
Valid for one year from date of purchase – choose your tour when you are ready

Available to puchase online here   

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Waterways, Wharves and Warehouses
Regent's Canal in Islington, circular from City Road Basin 

Today the canal is a linear park open to all, lined with colourful houseboats, waterside apartments and offices, complete with well-maintained paths for walkers, cyclists and joggers. It's a bit of calm and quiet away from the bustle of the shops and the beeps of the busy streets. But it wasn't always so lovely.
This 200 year old waterway from Paddington to Limehouse has a rich history. It was constructed to link the north of England to London's docklands on the River Thames therefore providing a low-impact distribution network for heavy goods. The businesses that lined the water's edge turned it into a dirty, noisy, dangerous hive of industry and manufacture. Find out about the various and unusual products that were made, stored and distributed from the wharves alongside this canal. And learn why these buildings and tow paths fell into disuse and how they were later regenerated and transformed into what we see and enjoy today.

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