Featured

Drowned lair: The Deptford Creek Necker

Faraway creatures lurk in Deptford Creek. Take a guided tour along its bed at low tide and the volunteer custodians of this fragile ecosystem will uncover Asian mitten crabs, egrets returned from Africa and eels born in the Sargasso Sea.

But there is a stranger resident still, one most guides won’t speak of – even if, consciously or not, they steer clear of the corner of the Creek it inhabits.… Read more

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Mist shrouded cities: The Newcourt Continuum

The Metropolitan Police helicopter crew recently deleted a tweet. Their twitter account is followed as much for atmospheric photos of London-from-above as it is for crime fighting updates. But now it seems – for a few brief minutes – it was an unwitting source of evidence for a phenomena categorised as a multiverse infringement.

As far as we know the tweet wasn’t cached, so we make do with reports from those who saw it during its short life.… Read more

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Forgotten Futures: Blakeley’s Highwalk

Any visitor to the Barbican will know its highwalks. The criss-cross of raised footpaths provide a confusing but just-about functional means of traversing the much loved residential and cultural centre. But follow them to the estate’s edges, attempt to use them to exit to the City at large, and whatever strange logic they possess starts to break down.

A bridge you half-remember led to the tube station you want ends abruptly in mid-air, its access point fenced off.… Read more

Strange fiction: The Holland Park ‘May Trees’

In this post we examine Annabel Freyne’s short story ‘The May Tree’ (1923), and ask to what extent the author drew on her own experiences for this single foray into supernatural fiction.

Mounted on a mock Georgian terrace near Holland Park’s eponymous public gardens is a blue plaque: Annabel Freyne (1873 – 1936), author and hay fever sufferer, lived and died in a house on this site.Read more

Silent city heat: The Herne Hill Membrane

Brockwell Lido on the first warm Saturday of spring. That’s the bittersweet image preoccupying Yua Fremantle in these strange, shut-down days. She wrote about it last year on her blog of Herne Hill life, The Woman in the Lido Cafe:

Light. Tumbling in from the open sky to splash across pool water, sunglasses, dripping dry bodies and smiles. Light shining into noise – noise reflected as light.Read more

Introducing The Rotherhithe Archive…

Browse the Rotherhithe Archive here

Portals of London has accumulated a library of material (pages from old books, deleted social media, other odds and ends) which speaks to London’s fractured temporal boundaries. Some are referenced in our blog posts, but there is another, shadow collection of items that don’t have an obvious home, but resonate all the same.

When I mentioned this small but growing haul to scholars and other amateur portologists, I was advised to do two things:

First, share all findings with Maeve Atkins of the Redriff Society.… Read more

A Westminster Abbey gardener’s notebook

Rotherhithe Archive #P4862

PoL notes:

Lovers of old books, turn away now.  At some point in the 20th century, a Westminster Abbey gardener took scissors to a rare copy of The Herball, or the Generall Historie of Plantes by John Gerard (published 1597), and stuck the soil-marked cuttings into their dog-eared gardening journal.… Read more

The Boundaries Trust entry

Rotherhithe Archive #C657

PoL notes:

Peregrine keeps a close eye on this Wikipedia entry, and tells us it is taken down – or edited beyond recognition – as soon as it is put up. He claims ignorance of its provenance, but we can’t help detecting Peregrine’s writing style (and barely concealed editorialising).… Read more

North Circular spiral: The Andromeda Room

Madeline Lee’s older brother Max disappeared from their teenage home 22 year’s ago, an unsolved family tragedy. Until now Madeline has kept secret the strange notebook Max kept in the days leading up to that night. We alternate extracts from the notebook with Madeline’s own recollections:

Madeline: I’d been happy, having Max back from uni for a bit. He was five years older and our lives were quite separate, but the house seemed empty without him.… Read more

To Hell: A chamber in the disused railway tunnel under Sydenham Hill

The following story was posted on a Lewisham borough forum, under a discussion about Sydenham Hill in the 1980s and ’90s:

Yes, I remember stories about secret tunnels in the hill. Me and a friend found one once. But it was nothing like they said. This was thirty years back and you may not believe me, but hey.

They closed the branch line to Crystal Palace in the 1950s.… Read more

Whispering wires: The Holborn Telephone Exchange Crisis

268-270 High Holborn is an unassuming building, ignored by countless Londoners since it was built almost a century ago. Few, hurrying past in the 1920s and ’30s, would have guessed it housed central London’s foremost telecommunications hub.

But to those who chart the wayward history of London’s anchoring in space and time, 268-270 High Holborn is as famous as they come.… Read more

Aurora Orientalis: The Bow Creek Utopia

Ash Malik shouldn’t be talking to me. ‘Stuff like this makes investors nervous. Which is kind of the opposite of my job’. He is a planning officer for the council, and the stalled building site we’re on – in the eastern reaches of London’s Docklands – is testament to the challenges of the role.

There’s no shortage of new developments on the archipelago-like patches of land between Bow Creek, the Royal Docks and the Thames.… Read more