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. The Rotherhithe Archive began as a box-file of newspaper clippings and other ephemera, kept on a shelf in Maeve’s ramshackle Rotherhithe studio. Its heart still lies in that paper library, but the Archive is now plugged into a hidden online network, and exists as hard copy in motion across the city, passed between the growing number of us working to recollect London’s strange realities.
The second thing I was told about the Archive was that I would need a codename – and that it should be the name of a species of bird found in London. This was more for fun than secrecy, as far as I could tell. Indeed, most of my fellow avians support Portals of London’s goal in widening public knowledge of our field.
Readers of Portals of London will recognise some of those who contribute to the Archive. There is Susan Macks (Raven) Professor of Gateways and the Multiverse at the University of Connecticut; Graham Herod (Peregrine), a former City of London tour guide and expert in untethered architecture; and ‘H’ (Cormorant), a cycle courier hooked into the city’s strange byways.
There is Iqbal Mahmud (Wren), a student historian and seeker of the mysterious Black House; Jason Allen (Parakeet); whose own weird experiences informed his investigations; and of course Maeve herself (Egret) : esoteric mudlarker, Archive administrator and all-round sage figure to the network.
It is with Egret’s blessing – and a hearty thumbs up from Raven – that I begin to open the Rotherhithe Archive to the public.