The latest

Local history adviser on BBC’s Antique Roadshow

I helped the director and researcher of BBC’s Antique Roadshow with their research into the history of Clissold Park as part of the filming of three episodes there, which is taking place on July 10th. Having become aware in 2016 of the vast archive of the Clissold Park Preservation Committee, which campaigned to save the park from the development in the 1880s, I’ve researched the story of the campaign extensively and created a website for it. Here’s 50min talk I gave about that remarkable story. I’m very pleased the story of campaign will get a mention in the opening of the first episode.

Upcoming event: 4.10.2022 – Private talk to CAMRA’s London Pubs Group

I’ve been invited to give a talk to members of CAMRA’s London Pubs Group about Stoke Newington’s lost pubs. It’ll be an extended version of the first part of my recent talk in the Stoke Newington Literary Festival about Stoke Newington’s ‘ghost’ pubs and cinemas. I very much looking forward to it. By the way, have you tried my free self-guided walk ‘Stoke Newington’s Lost Pubs’ yet?

Upcoming event: September 2022 – Stoke Newington History Talks no. 17

The next Stoke Newington History Talks event will be held for the first time in the historic Mildmay Club in Newington Green, featuring three talks. After two years of doing three events online I’m very excited to have the event back in front of an audience. Subscribe to the event’s mailing list to be notified when tickets go on sale.

05.06.2022 – Stoke Newington Literary Festival talk

On Sunday, June 5th I gave a talk as part of the Stoke Newington Literary Festival about some of Stoke Newington’s lost pubs and cinemas. It was great being in front of an audience for the first time since early March 2020 in the historic Mildmay Club in Newington Green. I gave talks in the festival in 2017, 2018 and 2019. It was always great fun and and a thrill to be part of a such a fantastic local event. I enjoyed putting the material together and doing additional research in the process. All 80 tickets sold out in two days and I was glad I was able to get through all 142(!) slides in 45min.

If you are interested to explore more of Stoke Newington’s lost pubs, I wrote a free self-guided walk (6.5km), which takes you through the sites of all the former pubs in the old Borough of Stoke Newington.

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24.05.2022 – Stoke Newington History Pop-Up event no.1

On May 24th I ran the first (and hopefully not the last one) Stoke Newington History Pop-Up event with Nick Perry, Richard Young and Rachel Tobyn where people were invited to come and visit us at Revere the Residence shop in 150 Stoke Newington Church Street and ask us for free local history questions. We had no idea what to expect and after three and half hours I estimate about 30 people walked into the shop and presented us with fascinating questions, which we did our best to answer using old maps, old photos and census records.

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01.05.2022 – Local history adviser on ‘Jay Blades – No Place Like Home’

Way back in December 2020 I was contacted by a TV producer who was developing an idea for a history programme based around someone who grew up in Stoke Newington in the 1970s & 80s learning about the history of the area. By April 2021 that someone turned out to be TV presenter Jay Blades and I took the producer and a researcher for the programme on an hour-long history tour of Stoke Newington, focusing on the streets Jay Blades grew up in. It was good fun and the three-part programme, titled ‘Jay Blades – No Place Like Home’ is airing in on Channel 5 at 9pm on the 3rd, 10th and 17th of May.

16.04.2022 – Annual photo survey of Stoke Newington Church Street

It’s that time of the year and Here’s my 8th annual photo survey of Stoke Newington Church St. 41 businesses have changed since 2015 (37%). You can view the previous years in the Prints section here. The number of vacant sites hasn’t changed over the years. Full street history here:

05.08.2021 – Stoke Newington History Talks no. 16

The 16th Stoke Newington History Talks event was online with talks that about the fascinating history of the Woodberry Down Estate by John Boughton, the story behind the publication of the Stoke Newington Lifestyle Guide in 1987 by Martin Bailey and finally, my talk was about some of the architects that designed Stoke Newington’s public buildings. The event raised £500 for the Literacy Pirates; an educational charity developing literacy, confidence and perseverance in young people. All three talks are available online.

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Transcribing the 1886 petition to save Clissold Park

Clissold Park, the jewel at the heart of Stoke Newington wouldn’t exist if it hadn’t been for a passionate local campaign in the 1880s to save the then private estate from development. The Clissold Park Preservation Committee organised a ‘mega-petition’ in 1886, which was signed by 11,000 people, mainly from Stoke Newington, Hackney and Islington. In March I organised a crowdsourcing project to transcribe the petition. It’s has been an ambitious and challenging endeavour but it was worth it.

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15.05.2021 – Interviewed for a BBC News article ‘Drain-spotting: The people who keep their minds in the gutter’

I was interviewed for a BBC News article about manhole covers and the people who find them a fascinating (who doesn’t?!). The cover image is my photo-survey of Stoke Newington coalhole covers and my collection also makes an appearance!

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Annual Stoke Newington Church Street Shopfront photo-survey is up


I completed the 7th annual photo-survey of Stoke Newington Church Street, which includes 117 photos. A third of the businesses have changed since the first survey I carried out in 2015. You can view the previous six editions here. You may also be interested in my Church Street occupancy survey 1847-2021, which documents the history of every shop on the street. I used the data a few months ago to create this animated ‘race chart’ that shows the evolution of the street by business type.

06.04.2021 – Stoke Newington History Talks #15

The 15th Stoke Newington History Talks event yesterday was terrific. 197(!) tickets were sold, which is a record and the event raised £650 for the local branch of National Food Service North London. I’ve been meaning to give a talk about historical street signs in Stoke Newington for a while now, so it was great to finally be able to do that. James Watson’s talk about the history of electricity in Stoke Newington, which included a private tour of the substation in Wordsworth Road and Edwards Lane filmed especially for the event, was captivating. Mark Barnes’ brilliant photos of Stoke Newington he took in the late 70s coupled with his stories and personal memories growing up in the area, brought the period to life. You can view the recording of the entire event as well as the individual talks here.

The next event will be in 3-4 months. Join the mailing list to know when tickets go on sale. 

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17.2.2021 – An appearance in Landscape Artist of the Year on Sky Arts

On a very hot day in August 2020 I provided a short history overview of Woodberry Down as part of an episode of Landscape Artist of the Year. It was fun experience, which allowed me for the first time to stroll along the south bank of West Reservoir that is otherwise closed.

A Street Through Time – The Evolution of Stoke Newington Church Street

I’ve used Flourish.Studio and data from my Church St occupancy survey 1847-2021 to create an animated ‘race chart’ showing the most common businesses by type in Stoke Newington Church St since 1847. You can view it in action and interact with it here

3.12.2020 – Stoke Newington History Talks no. 14

The 14th Stoke Newington History Talks event on December 3rd was attended by 130+ viewers on YouTube and included talks from myself, Billy Reading and Caz Richards. It was a very different experience than the usual in-person setting I got used to in the last 4 years, but it was still a great evening nonetheless. £573 was raised for the Hackney Foodbank and each talk generated interesting questions from the remote audience. And now I can start planning the next event!

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4.11.2010 – Hackney Gazette: Hundreds delve into Hackney’s history at online event

Connie Dimsdale wrote a piece in the Hackney Gazette about my talk in October, which drew an online audience of 315 people.

From the article: “Hackney’s Cllr Sophie Cameron (Clissold, Lab) said she feels “heartened” by how popular the history of Stoke Newington is: “One of the things that is so amazing about the local area is that there are so many people invested in the history…and it really affirms their identity. “It gives people a connection to the past that sometimes they feel is missing in modern life.”

You can read the full article here

20.10.2020 – Online talk: A Glimpse into Hackney Archives’ photos of Stoke Newington

Yesterday I gave an online talk on YouTube, which was attended by 315 people, out of the 580(!) that booked tickets. Both were incredible numbers and it was great to be able to share old photos of Stoke Newington Church Street with such a large audience. The 45min talk was structured as a tour of Stoke Newington Church Street using photos I was given kindly by the Hackney Archives, when I first gave the talk a few years ago. Special thank you to Nick Perry who organised and orchestrated the event.

The talk was organised by and

14.08.2020 – An article about my campaign to save old street signs across Stoke Newington

Dynevor Rd off SN High St

Clara Murray from wrote a short article about my campaign asking the council to save old street signs. Earlier this year I learnt through correspondence with the council, that irrespective of their potential historical significance, street signs are removed and destroyed if they are considered no longer fit-for-purpose due to their condition. This prompted Nick Perry, Chair of the Hackney Society, and myself to ask the council to reconsider its policy given the historical significance of street signs that include the former ‘Borough of Stoke Newington’ or the abolished ‘N’ postal district. After a number of chaser email to various people in council since February, a few weeks ago the Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville, got involved on Twitter and we received the reassurance we were hoping for that the signs will be protected.