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01.05.2022 – History consultant 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.

06.08.2020 – Online talk about the campaign to save Clissold Park in the 1880s

On August 6th I live streamed on YouTube via Zoom a 50min-long talk about the campaign to save Clissold Park. It’s my favourite talk and the one I presented the most number of times. The last Stoke Newington History Event was held on March 2nd and I don’t know when I’ll be able to run the event in a physical space again. I’ve been considering running the event online and this was a useful, small-scale trial.

Stoke Newington’s Lost Pubs Walk

pubs 23.05.49

I wrote a self-guided 6.5km walk visiting 22 locations of ‘ghost’ pubs within the boundaries of the Borough of SN. Probably the driest pub crawl in history, but also one of the most informative! Here it is. Hope you enjoy it!

05.07.2020 – An appearance in Joolz Guides’ Stoke Newington history walk

‪It was a pleasure taking part in Joolz Guides’ latest film, this time all about Stoke Newington. It’s a great piece with LOTS of local history goodies. I make an appearance from 11:25-15:00 spreading coalhole cover appreciation and other bits. Enjoy! ‬


Annual Stoke Newington Church Street Shopfront photo-survey is up

Stoke Newington Church Street survey 2020_small

Here is the 6th edition of my annual SNCS Shopfront photo survey (minus the queuing). 30% of the shops I photographed in 2015 have changed. Of the 118 commercial properties (excl. pubs), 6 are vacant currently. You can see the previous surveys here.

Stoke Newington Boundary Walk

Screenshot 2020-06-21 at 00.08.26

I created a self-guided ‘Beating the Bounds’ walk of the former Metropolitan Borough of Stoke Newington. It’s roughly 9km and with a couple of breaks should take about 3 hours. It’s a great walk which takes you to the four corners of the former borough and makes you realise how big, or small depending on your perspective, the borough was. Enjoy!

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30.03.2020 – BBC ‘Boring Talks’ podcast


I was chuffed to be invited a few months ago to record a BBC ‘Boring Talk’ podcast about my fascination with coalhole cover designs. It was great fun to record in the BBC 4 studio and also in the streets of Stoke Newington. You can listen to the podcast here.

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02.03.2020 – Stoke Newington History Talks #13

SNHT no.13

The 13th Stoke Newington History Talks event was held in St Matthias Halls on March 2nd in front of a packed audience. Brilliant talks by Alan Denney and Andy Wells. Proceeds from this event were donated to Hackney Playbus. Thank you to all who attended.

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03.12.2019 – Stoke Newington History Talks #12

SNHT no.12

The 12th Stoke Newington History event of the year was held on December 3rd in St Matthias Halls, as usual. All 155 Tickets were snatched in 22 hours, which was incredible. Proceeds from this event were donated to Pets Against Loneliness; a group of volunteers bringing together older members of the community with well-behaved dogs and their owners for the purposes of joy and the alleviation of loneliness.

All three presentations are available here

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16.10.2019 – Nerd Nite talk: The Beauty of Victorian Coal-Hole Covers


I had a great time presenting my survey of Stoke Newington coal-hole cover designs as part of the October Nerd Nite London event. It’s very niche and ultra-geeky, which is why Nerd Nite is the ideal forum to share my interest in these decorative cast iron beauties.

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22.09.2019 – Clissold House Open House event


I had the pleasure of presenting my talk about the dramatic campaign to save Clissold Park from development in the Drawing Room in Clissold House as part of a festive Sunday celebrating 130 years of Clissold Park, which coincided with the Open House London weekend. Giving this talk in Clissold House always feels special.

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