Past Shorter walks

21 May 2018

For many of the members of the Group, our latest walk was new territory indeed, quite a contrast from leafy Crouch End and Hornsey. What were we up to? Following the Line Sculpture Walk … , but there was so much more to see besides. We met at North Greenwich Station and followed the Thames River path on the perimeter of the O2 Arena, stopping to admire a series of artworks by Alex Chinneck, Thomson & Craighead, Richard Wilson, Gary Hume, and Anthony Gormley.

Then it was time to board the Emirates Air Line cable car for views of Canary Wharf, Trinity Buoy Wharf, the mouth of the River Lea, the ExCel exhibition centre and London City Airport accompanied by a promotional commentary …

We enjoyed a fascinating walk from just outside the O2 Centre, through Canning Town and ending near the Blackwall Tunnel approach road. What were we up to? Following the Line Sculpture Trail featuring Damien Hirst and Anthony Gormley among others, and along the banks of the Thames and Lee river offshoots. We stopped for lunch at Cody Dock, a wonderful oasis of plants and community activity. Plenty of opportunity for some first rate photos!

14 May 2018

About 20 members joined Philip Messent on a walk through historic Soho, starting at the Dominion Theatre and ending at Piccadilly tube station several hours later. In this very small area we heard tales of high and low life, Royalty and crooks, musicians, and comedians, and saw a number of commemorative plaques, featuring, among others, Mary Seacole, the Jamaican nurse “Heroine of the Crimea” – she has a ward named after her in the Whittington Hospital, comedian Peter Cook, Mozart, John Logie Baird, essayist William Hazlitt, botanist Joseph Banks, David Bowie, health campaigner Dr John Snow, and landscape architect Charles Bridgeman. In Greek St we were very lucky to be invited into the House of St Barnabas, a charitable foundation with its own small church, where the Rev Dr Adam Scott, a direct descendent of the Monro family involved in St Barnabas, gave us a talk. Then on to Soho (formerly Kings) Square with many fine buildings on each side including St Patrick’s Catholic Church. In the square we saw the Tudor looking building which was only built in 1925! Originally a disguise for an electric sub station it is now used to store gardening equipment. We went down Romilly Street (home to Kettner’s Townhouse hotel, an historic Georgian building, Frith Street past Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, The Arts Theatre Club, noting that a No. 14 there was a gap between buildings, probably from a WWII bomb in the area. There is now a single storey building Garlic & Shots. At the rear stage entrance of the Prince Edward Theatre was a sign – The London Casino. It says The Worlds Greatest Artistes have passed and will pass through these doors. In Old Compton Street we saw G-A-Y, the site of the former 2 I’s Coffee bar where Cliff Richard and Tommy Steele were discovered, and the Admiral Duncan pub where in April 1999 a nail bomb killed and injured many people. After a break for refreshments in the Soho Theatre bar, we investigated Dean Street including the Kemble House apartments, decorated with plaques illustrating sailing ships, the former Royal Ear Hospital building, with year AD 1816 in mosaic. Then on to St Anne’s Church, Brewer Street Market and finally Broadwick Street, and Carnaby Street.

This was another wonderful historic walk led by Philip and we look forward to future walks.

This text is based on an account prepared by member Lesley Ramm. Her images illustrate the text.

23 April 2018

Around 20 of the Shorter Walks Group were blessed with perfect walking weather for our guided walk around Highgate Village. We visited the newer estates of Hillcrest and Highgate before seeking out some of the poets of Highgate, from A.E. Housman to the latter day bard George Michael, whose shrine is now so visible in the centre of the Village. But we also took in Andrew Marvell, whose lovely sundial poem is displayed below, as we ended our walk at Lauderdale House and Waterlow Park, donated by Sydney Waterlow as a ‘garden for the gardenless’.

12 April 2018

The Group had a really enjoyable walk around Walthamstow Village, which was unknown to us in Crouch End and Muswell Hill. The photos show the range of buildings, from St Mary’s Churchyard to the old Walthamstow Town Hall. We had tea and a chance to look round the William Morris Gallery as well. For once, it did not rain!

Fragment from the General Post Office building that once stood in St Martins-le-Grand near St Paul’s Cathedral. The building, designed by Robert Smirke (architect of the British Museum), was demolished in 1912.



Former Walthamstow Postal Sorting Office, built in 1903.




Walthamstow Town Hall, built in 1941 to a design by architect Philip Hepworth.

March 2018

Blessed with a sunny spring day for outing to Walthamstow Wetlands and accompanied by an excellent guide from the London Wildlife Trust, we began with refreshments in the beautifully restored Engine House. Walking in a figure of eight over about 4 miles, we learnt about the history and construction of the 10 reservoirs whilst enjoying the views of the semi-industrial landscapes seen over great expanses of water, reed beds, and cormorant-filled islands. A wonderful place to get away from the city – only a few minutes tube ride away.

Photographs © Alison Miller

February 2018

We were lucky enough to have a rare sunny afternoon for our outing to Woodberry Wetlands, walking along a very muddy New River Path from Finsbury Park to arrive at the East Reservoir, where we had tea at the Coal Hole, before proceeding to the West Reservoir and viewing the extraordinary castle pumping station, built by Mylne for the New River Company. We had the pleasure of a local expert, Nick Higham, who gave us really useful background to the creation and adaptation of the New River, and the successful 1980s campaign to save the reservoirs.

January 2018

The Shorter Walks group enjoyed a fascinating walk around Spitalfields and Whitechapel, despite some threatening rain clouds on 29 January. Philip Messent showed us 17th century houses, a mosque which had previously been both a church and a synagogue, and a former Rowton Houses hostel, as well as enjoying a delightful tea in the Crypt of Hawksmoor’s Christ Church across the road from Spitalfields Market.

Other highlights of the walk included the Kindertransport Memorial Sculpture at Liverpool Street Station, Artillery Passage, Sandy’s Row, Tracey Emin’s former warehouse home, the Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor in Brune Street, Spitalfields Market, Huguenot residences in Fournier Street, the Brick Lane Mosque, and Altab Ali Park in Whitechapel, and the Royal London Hospital.

A comprehensive description (including many links for further study) of this walk by one of the attendees, Lesley Ramm, may be read here, with an accompanying set of images here.

January 2018

Expertly led by qualified Clerkenwell and Islington guide Karen Lansdown, we were taken on a tour of central Islington, with some familiar sights and surprises. The theme of the walk was Islington’s relationship with water, beginning with the Regent’s Canal (tunnelled under Islington itself), the historical course of the New River (well-known, of course to residents of Hornsey). We went into the public spaces of Sadlers Wells Theatre, to inspect The Well (unfortunately not illuminated), admired the buildings and landscaped grounds of the former headquarters of the London Metropolitan Water Board, and shown a series of carvings on a perimeter wall in Myddelton Passage – by, it turns out, members of the Metropolitan Police! Our tour ended in Claremont Square, opposite the extensive reservoir, covered in the 1850s. We were indeed lucky that yet another watery feature, the rain, held off, and we left the Angel after 90 minutes of fascinating history and thinking of Charles Lamb’s friend who fell into the New River in the days when it ran in front of his house in Colebrooke Row.

December 2017

The Shorter Walks Group enjoyed a lovely walk on 18 December through Queens Wood Shepherds Cot and Ally Pally Park taking in the Meadow Orchard project at the back of the Queenswood Medical Centre. Many thanks to Mike Gee of Greenacre Walks as guest leader.

November 2017

Member Lesley Ramm writes: “About a dozen of us met in Priory Park to see where the Moselle River runs under the basketball pitch near Middle Lane. Then we crossed High Street Hornsey to Moselle Close and then Penstock Path where the New River crosses the Moselle.

Again underground. After crossing Wood Green High Road we entered the Noel Park estate and Moselle Avenue. In Vincent Road we saw old brickwork of a bridge that the Moselle runs under.Then along Lordship Lane to Lordship Rec – where we saw the Moselle above ground! After a coffee break in The Hub we skirted the Broadwater Farm estate and crossed Lordship Lane and entered the Tower Gardens estate. We made our way to All Hallows Church and churchyard and into Tottenham Cemetery. We ended our walk in White Hart Lane and caught the W3 back to Hornsey. This two and a half hour walk was in lovely sunshine. I met people I have met on other U3A groups and some new ones as well. A lovely afternoon thanks to our new Crouch End & District U3A.”

October 2017

We were very lucky with the weather, as we assembled at Finsbury Park to catch the train to Cheshunt. Sally led us along the canal towpath to a cafe just near Broxbourne station. The sun shone, the leaves were beautiful and we had some fascinating conversations.

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