Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Dear Charnowalkers,

Oh dear, the last post was in September, and now it's November. I should point out perhaps that this silence is down to my being extremely busy, and I'm sure you'll appreciate that at this time of year, as the weather changes and people are less inclined to walk the streets, being busy is a good thing. Anyway, let me give you an insight into the recent experiences of this jobbing tour guide.

October saw the Footprints of London Literary London Festival offering over fifty separate tours exploring London's literary side. I had no fewer than five tours on offer, totalling nine slots, and some interesting audiences. It also garnered me a couple of five-star TripAdvisor reviews! Four of my five tours were based around site-specific readings, including the new tour 'Rumpole and the Legal Life', and it was highly satisfying to put sites into context in that way. It also prompted a new post for the Footprints of London blog: Scrooge's Lonely Rooms encourages the reader to appreciate just how alone Scrooge was on that grim Christmas Eve by considering the question of office provision - or lack of it - at the time.


I'm preparing a new literary tour for 2018, which will be another East End tour to join 'Bethnal Green in So Many Words' and which is inspired by my reading of Petr Chalupský's recent work on Peter Ackroyd's London novels.

I had the privilege recently of reviewing this work for the Literary London Society's journal, and have posted an interim review on Goodreads. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr Chalupský at the Literary London Society's annual conference in 2014, so it was particularly enjoyable to be able to read this study. Talking about the conference, recently I took the time to load up to Academia my conference papers. It's a very useful site, where you can share all sorts of work. You don't have to limit yourself to full-blown academic articles; you can share a variety of items. It also allows you to establish your ownership of intellectual property, just in case!


An interesting project that came up in October through UKEDA was initiated by my friend and guiding colleague Licia Sisalli. 'Get into Guiding' saw us each teaching the basics of guiding to a group of Italian teens. Essentially it was a language exercise, but I hope they understood the benefits they were getting in terms of presentation skills. Anyway, I had sixteen teens and a charming teacher called Francesca; I did the tour for them on Monday and Tuesday (with some visits), and then on Wednesday to Friday the group did the tour for Francesca and me. Good fun, and from what Francesca told me the kids enjoyed it, including the ones who'd not liked it when they were told they were doing tour guiding rather than career development!

On which subject, the Idea Store Learning course Walkie Talkie Part One went ahead in September-October, and Part Two is currently underway. One regret I have at the moment is that more established guides aren't getting involved. It's good CPD, a low-level refresher for guiding skills (after all, we all slip into bad habits) as well as an up-close look at the East End. Still, there's Part Three scheduled for April 2018, so who knows? Talking of Part Three, it ran for the first time this year and has invigorated the Tower Hamlets Walkshop workshop initiative. We've relaunched and are working on a couple of projects at the moment, with prospects for future activity.

Anyway, that's all for now; I'm hoping to get back into the swing of blogging now that many of the big projects are under control. Look out soon for news about a project on the Island, and hopefully soon I can update you about the prospect of my next book.

Take care of yourselves, and I hope to see you on the streets again soon. Take in my schedule, why don't you?



Dave Charnowalks

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Dear Charnowalkers,

Yes, I know it's nearly a month since my last post, but such is the life of the jobbing tour guide - you have to snatch at every opportunity! One curious experience I forgot to mention in the last blog was that I had the privilege - along with some other Footprints of London guides - of guiding some Chinese students. I took them on a Theatreland tour on the Friday evening (11 August), which was extra special because they'd been performing at the Edinburgh Fringe! They were particularly impressed to hear about Peter Daubeny and his World Theatre Seasons at the Aldwych; especially pleasing was that in 1955 he brought the Peking Opera Company to the Palace Theatre for the first ever cultural visit to the UK by the People's Republic of China.

Anyway, what about the past month? The big news is that twelve people enrolled on the Walkie Talkie Introduction to Guiding course, and are now getting to grips with the real East End. Session One of Part One happened last Wednesday.

That Part Three ran this summer means that momentum has been revived for the Walkshop project. We have two groups working on individual projects, starting small to build up soundly! The current intake for Part One are enthusiastic, so hopefully we'll carry on into Part Two in November. These things are all recruitment-driven, so it's not something to take for granted. Still ...

In connection with the East End, I've been included in an initiative on the Isle of Dogs. I don't know how much is under wraps at present, so don't want to say anything, but things are happening and Island life is looking up.

It was good to contribute to Totally Thames: two slots each for two tours celebrating how the Thames has been crucial to the development of maritime trade that established England, and then Britain, on the international scene. One of them, River to Riches, was co-developed a couple of years ago with good buddy Vivien Schrager-Powell. Talking of Viv, I had the now-usual honour of backmarking for her 'In the Shadow of the Shard' tour yesterday for Walk London. This a weekend of free tours offered by Transport for London, usually thrice a year. Look out for the next one in February 2018.

Another festival looms in October: the Footprints of London Literary Festival.

This year we have over fifty different tours (five of them mine!) offered throughout October. Indeed, there's one or more tours EVERY DAY in October 2017! Even Doctor Who is represented this year, courtesy of my friend and colleague Robin Rowles. The list of tours can be found here:

I've increased my consultative value, as noted author Rebecca de Saintonge engaged me for a day to give her some medieval colour for a work she's putting together.

We strolled from Westminster, through the Inns and into the City, finishing on Bankside, and Rebecca mined my knowledge of medieval London to get a flavour of the C15, her period. It was a pleasure to recreate mentally how the different areas would have looked - and indeed smelled - with someone so charming, despite the hours of walking involved and the continual sound of my voice. Rebecca's site is here:

There are other dribs and drabs I could mention. My new tour 'Rumpole and the Legal Life' is in fine form now, having had two outings. On 1 September I was on my chum Rob Smith's tour 'The Long Good Friday Revisited'. I couldn't do it last year when it was new, but he offered it for Totally Thames this year, so I got the chance and encouraged a couple of pals along too. It's a top tour, with all sorts of stuff about the film, including locations of course, but also reflections on how the regeneration of Docklands Harold Shand dreamed of achieving eventually came to pass.

Anyway, I've trespassed long enough on your valuable time, so I'll sign off now and hope to see you on the streets very soon. October sees East End Saturdays, in line with the course; the Sundays tiptoe along the dark side! Full details as usual on my schedule:



Monday, 28 August 2017

Dear Charnowalkers,

Busy, busy, busy - the jobbing tour guide needs to make hay while the sun shines, as it were, and I've been popping my finger in various pies. Mmm, gravy ...

Anyway, here's the latest round-up of the splendours and miseries of the hack guide. I kept the first Saturday in August free to attend my good friend Joanna Moncrieff's excellent tour of Walthamstow.

Jo guides there and in Chingford, and does an excellent job bringing you the full story of the northeastern suburbs. It's in areas like this that you can see the layers of development far more clearly than in central London. Jo can be found here: http://westminsterwalks.london.

My Sunday Charnowalks in August have been pre-Fire tours, inspired by a thoroughly enjoyable Richard III at the Rose on Bankside. This visit gave me an idea which will require too much thought and reading to do this year, but next year ... In fact, I've got at least two other tour ideas ready for realisation in 2018. Sorry, you'll have to wait and see!

Anyway, August's Sundays saw essentially medieval Charnowalks with a heavy Shakespearean emphasis, supported by the excellent picture of Shakes-bear by my good friend Fay Bennett. This fine fellow was one of the Birmingham Bears on display recently. Also I cashed in on the Great British Beer Festival with my 'Booze and the Borough' tour, on Saturday 12 being joined by my fellow Hullite Alison, her husband and one of their daughters. I don't think I've seen Alison since I graduated from Hull University in 1986, so that was a momentous meeting!

A curious and fun commission for 26 August came from Dave Curley, a former boss of mine when I worked for Tower Hamlets Council. He wanted me to do a local tour of Bethnal Green with specific reference to details about his wife Josie which he supplied - where they met, where they went for their first date (pie and mash, if you credit it!), and so on. It went very well, and all seven people there (including two of their sons) was happy at the end. Sadly I couldn't carry on with them for an early curry, but family duty called.

Saturday 19th saw the first outing for my new literary tour 'Rumpole and the Legal Life'. There are some points to straighten out - that's why my first outings of new tours are at the cut-price preview rate of £5 a head - but the tour is sound. It'll feature twice on the Footprints of London literary festival in October, but gives the inspiration for my September Sundays, which will feature law-based tours including a chance for a Sunday outing for Rumpole (the lit fest outings are weekdays).

I'll be loading up the tours soon and updating my schedule, so do keep an eye on my website:
Alternatively, you can join my mailing list and get the mailouts as they're issued - just fill in the aggravating pop-up when you visit the site. Of course, if you haven't done so already, you can sign up to this blog as well and get the full Charno experience.

As well as my scheduled tours and the Footprints of London Literary Festival, I'm featuring also on Totally Thames - please scroll down to the last post for details!

I think I've taken up enough of your valuable time, so I'll wrap up this Charnoblog entry. I hope you're getting the good weather where you are, and are enjoying your summer.


Dave Charnowalks

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Dear Charnowalkers,

Slowly getting back to routine ...

The theme for August's Sunday tours is pre-Fire London, with the emphasis on the Tudors. This is an idea which came to me after seeing an excellent Richard III given by the Malachites at the Rose Theatre, Bankside.

Beginning with 'Before the Make-Over' on 6 August, tuning into the echoes of Tudor and Plantagenet London, we go on to consider Shakespeare the Londoner, Henry VIII and the Supremacy, and finish with the City on the Jacobethan stage. Please take a peek at my schedule:

With the fortieth anniversary outing of the Great British Beer Festival coming up soon, I'm offering my 'Booze and the Borough' tour on 8 and 11 August at 11:00 and 12 August at 2:30. This tour seeks to give a depth to the appreciation of alcohol through exploring the rich relationship between the Borough and brewing, hospitality, and the wine trade. I'm afraid there's no drink taken on the tour, but we do pass some very good pubs for reference purposes!

Again, please see the schedule for details: http://charnowalks.co.uk/charnowalks-tour-dates/

The nearly three weeks since the last blog have been dominated by Horace Rumpole, barrister at law and Old Bailey hack, created by John Mortimer QC. 'Rumpole and the Legal Life', my latest tour, will follow Rumpole's experiences as a barrister and will feature readings from some of the many stories. As the focus is on Rumpole himself, the tour takes in some of Legal London but not all. That's for another time, probably next year!

I will be offering the usual reduced-price preview of the tour on 19 August, with all places at £5 a head. You can't book for this on-line, but an e-mail to me at charnowalks-bgn@yahoo.co.uk will reserve you a place.

September sees the return of Totally Thames, the month-long celebration of London's river, and again I'll be offering two river-based tours. 'River to Riches' is the tour I developed with my friend and colleague Vivien Schrager-Powell, which sees how the Thames became the City's artery for trade. My 'Tidemarks from the Pool' follows on downriver to Shadwell to see how our maritime trade infrastructure developed, as well as considering the experiences of the merchant seaman ashore. You can find details here:

Preparations are underway for October's Footprints of London Lit Fest 2017 (this is 2016's promo image), with my friend and fellow City guide Jill Finch at the helm. Details to emerge soon, but the above Rumpole tour looks likely to be included. There is a colossal choice of tours to come, and hopefully we will be offering a season ticket deal again. This ticket gives unlimited access to Lit Fest tours - so far the record is twenty-eight tours on one season ticket!

Well, that brings you up to date with the currents carrying the Good Ship Charnowalks into August with an eye on September and October! I shall get a less loaded blog entry to you in a fortnight's time, with a steadier focus which will include the new run of the Walkie Talkie guiding course!

Hoping to see you on the streets soon!


Dave Charnowalks

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Dear Charnowalkers,

Phew! Two months have passed since the last blog, and they've been full of stuff, but now we're back in business. Huge apologies for the gap - I know you've missed me!

First, let me point out that I'm halfway through my London in Peril tours for July, and my first London on the Page tour this month is 'Much Ado About Trading', coming up on Saturday. All Charnowalks details can be found on the schedule: http://charnowalks.co.uk/charnowalks-tour-dates/

So, what have I been up to? Mainly finishing off exam hall supervising at UCL, and then catching up with things I couldn't do because of that.

The Walkie Talkie Part Three course has been a big undertaking, but now that it's run its ten weeks I can look back at a great deal achieved by everyone.

Most importantly, the learners did very well to grapple with the more hands-on approach of this course, and took me (one stop each) on a tour from Mile End to Bow Road Underground Stations. This was the second task of the course, to give learners experience of rudimentary risk assessment and positioning. We were under the minimum number limit, but as Parts One and Two didn't run last autumn we were allowed to go ahead.

We now offer a total of twenty weeks' worth of tuition in Tower Hamlets, which gives novice guides an introduction to the discipline of guiding, yet is low-level enough that experienced guides can get to grips with the East End without being made to relearn stuff they know already. Enrolment is live for 2017-18, and details can be found here: http://www.ideastore.co.uk/course/results?q=walkie+talkie

Footprints of London have been developing some tours which we can offer as Footprints tours, rather than as ones by individuals, and I've been overseeing the 'LDN like a Local' tour. It's an East End tour which looks at trends and fads in London street life which originate from or are represented in the East End. The spine of the tour is Brick Lane, from Whitechapel to Bethnal Green via Spitalfields. The suite of three are being offered to some groups later in the summer, so this will show how marketable they are.

I've also had two items appear on the Footprints blog. Henry VIII's Crisis of Supremacy looks at the crux year of 1538 during his establishment of himself as the Supreme Head of the English Church. The Queen and the Green considers the Queen Adelaide's Dispensary, the first hospital in Bethnal Green established because of cholera. Links here:

I managed to get a couple of private groups. My good friend Gillian Woods arranged for me to take her Mum and Stepdad's University of the Third Age group on my 'Booze and the Borough' tour, exploring the connections between historic Southwark and drink. Also German tutor Ingrid Schneider-Lietke booked me to take some of her Business English students on 'The Unquiet City', nearly two thousand years of unrest in the City of London.

Though I promised myself I'd devote this year to the East End, I've decided to bow to my own internal prompting to develop a Rumpole tour. This will be another of my literary tours with readings, so look out for 'Rumpole and the Legal Life' in August. After this I'm returning to Whitechapel - details to follow.

There have been meetings, there are more to come; there are a number of things to come, but they can wait for the next time. I should be alright for the next blog post in a fortnight, and the following fortnights. Once again, apologies for the delay - normal service is being resumed. Thanks for your patience.


Dave Charnowalks
(Action photo 2016 - outside the Market Porter, Borough Market, by Malcolm Johnston)

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Dear Charnowalkers,

Yes, I'm aware that it's been a month since the last blog. As I mentioned in the last entry, the exam period at UCL has come upon us and I've been working very long days in the special needs venues. Still, I've been squeezing in a few things, beginning with 'Reaching into the Abyss', my tour exploring Victorian philanthropy in Whitechapel and Spitalfields.

The usual reduced-price preview happened on 29 April, and it makes for an interesting contrast to 'The Battle for Bethnal Green', an older tour which happens to the north of Whitechapel. The following day I had a small but appreciative audience for 'Behind the Magic Curtain', my exploration of the contribution Theatreland has made to performance in Britain.

Thanks to the good offices of my friend Conti Moll, who teaches at a local school, I was able again to take the two Year Two classes from the Gatehouse School on a Great Fire of London tour in May.

They are lovely kids, and being just six and seven they have no problem asking questions and discussing stuff. The questions they were asking showed definitely that they were thinking of the subject, and both classes were particularly impressed to know that Samuel Pepys brought his Admiralty papers and his Diary to Bethnal Green to prevent them being destroyed. (Gatehouse is a Bethnal Green school, you see.)

Big news is that Walkie Talkie Part Three got underway at last - after all that waiting and agonising, Tower Hamlets agreed to let the course go ahead with only eight, and then another person enrolled. So, with a dedicated complement of nine we're sailing into unexplored waters which will lead to the group getting out on the streets at last.

So far we've learned about Old Ford and Bow, the focal area for the group's tasks, we've considered risk assessment and liability, we've taken in architecture (specifically Decorated Gothic and Georgian), and yesterday evening's session considered the museums of Tower Hamlets. Next Thursday gives the group the chance to do their first task: a four-minute presentation each based on a hypothetical tour with four potential stops. They don't do the tour as a tour; they just report back on their hypothetical plans.

That'll have to be all for now. Apologies if this seems a bit haphazard, but I've forced myself to put fingers to keyboard to give you the salient points and remind you that this blog is still active!

Anyway, I'm going to close now because I need to get to bed at my earliest to be ready for tomorrow's onslaught - the last day of the working week!

Goodnight one and all!


Dave Charnowalks

Action photos (2017) by Alan Tucker (Whitechapel Baths frontage) and Conti Moll (Leadenhall Market)

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Dear Charnowalkers,

I'm sure you've been wondering where my fortnightly blog entry has been this week - well, here we are at last!

The pressure is mounting to get as much done as I can before the exam period starts at UCL next Thursday - I supervise exam halls there. As such, I'm working flat out on my new Whitechapel tour, immersing myself in the Victorian initiatives that sought to engage with the problems brought by the development of London.

Stanford's Map of Central London 1897

The main man is Samuel Barnett, described as 'a shy and modest man, who looked older than his years'. Hmm - reminds me of someone ...

Anyway, this tour will be given its reduced-price preview on Saturday 29 April, and if you fancy it we're starting outside Aldgate Station (just appearing bottom centre of the map) at 2:30. It's a mere £5 a head, but do contact me on charnowalks-bgn@yahoo.co.uk to reserve your place.

We've still got two weekends of 'Page and Stage' tours to go, and this coming weekend it's a belter. Two tours, both featuring readings. Saturday is 'Bethnal Green in So Many Words', exploring my home turf through the words of a variety of authors from Arthur Morrison to Monica Ali. Sunday sees 'Much Ado About Trading', which features readings from Shakespeare, Dekker, Middleton and others. to show how they brought the City to the stage.

I put up an item to LinkedIn recently, considering the positive benefits of site-specific readings. You can find it here - and you don't have to be registered on LinkedIn to read it:

We round off with a celebration of Theatreland - 'Behind the Magic Curtain' takes a good look at what the West End has contributed to performance in this country.

To give you a taster, you might want to take a look at my Footprints of London blog item about Peter Daubeny's pioneering work bringing World Theatre to the London stage:

Next up, in the Merry Month of May, Charnowalks brings you Crime and the Law, a series of tours exploring the darker side of the East End and the City.

I'll give you more details about them in the next blog entry, but you can always take a peek at my schedule:
In fact, why not join my mailing list and get all the hot news as it happens?

That's all until the next blog entry, by which time I'll be a year older - I'm fifty-three on the 24th!

See you on the streets soon.


Dave Charnowalks

Photos of me reading from 'King Dido' and 'Martin Chuzzlewit' by Alan Tucker and Anna Tomlinson; photo of the Agatha Christie memorial by Anna Tomlinson; photo of the site of the Bull and Mouth, St Martin's le Grand by Geoff Kaye.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Dear Charnowalkers,

I've done it again - another late blog entry! But not without cause - it's all been in the interests of work.

The project that has been dominating the last week or two has been a tour of the King's Cross regeneration, at the heart of the new Knowledge Quarter. The good people at the Oxford International Educational Group commissioned Footprints of London to provide a tour for school groups. The students are interested in business and regeneration, so we're giving them a tour around King's Cross.

The Proposed Knowledge Quarter

The tour is adapted from that given by my fellow Footprinter Rob Smith, and it explores many aspects of regeneration. We did two shifts yesterday - morning and afternoon - and there are two more tomorrow, so I'll fill you in on the next blog entry.

Talking of tour development, my friend and guiding colleague Alan Tucker (who took the photos for 'The Dark Side of East London') had a tryout for his new tour two evenings ago. 'The Social and Industrial History of Hackney Wick' does exactly that - it brings you the inside story of a major industrial area in East London which provided many innovations, including petrol and dry cleaning, as well as considering the impact on the local community.

Alan on Hackney Wick in 2015

Having created two new tours in the City, I'm now going back to the East End, as I had proposed to do earlier this year. I did mean to create a Whitechapel tour, but as is the way of such things the route snapped in the middle and curled up. It's become a tour from Aldgate to Bishopsgate via Whitechapel, and takes in a number of instances of Victorian philanthropy.

Women's Entrance -
Providence Row Shelter

It would be easy to do a general philanthropy tour - and indeed what will now be a Whitechapel and Mile End tour will do something similar - but I've decided to focus purely on Victorian philanthropy. This will give focus, and also explore issues which beset the East End in its earliest development.

Talking of the East End, this is the last call for 'Walkie Talkie: An Introduction to Guiding in Tower Hamlets'. It's scheduled to start on Wednesday 26 April. So far we're a bit short on numbers, which means that it may not go ahead. This would be a great shame, because the course will give its learners not only an insight into the story of the borough, but also the chance to experience guiding first-hand on the streets of Bow and Old Ford.

So, if you're intending to dip your toe into the magical world of guiding, you need to enrol quickly!

The Arms of LB Tower Hamlets

Enrolment details are here: http://www.ideastore.co.uk/course/view/C2535

You can find the course outline as a .pdf here:

This Sunday sees the second of the Charnowalks 'Page and Stage Sundays'. 'A Dickens of a City' is a tour with readings, allowing you to experience how the London of Charles Dickens was changing from the Georgian to the Victorian periods.

Frontispiece from Little Dorrit 1857

Booking and other details are available here:

There are no Charnowalks at the Easter weekend, but on the following weekend there'll be not one but two tours with readings. More details will be on the next blog, but you can get more information from my schedule, including May's 'Crime and the Law Sundays':

On the subject of writing, you might want to take a look at two posts I put up to LinkedIn on the subject of guiding. One considers the usefulness of guided tours for language experience, the other the benefits of tours featuring site-specific readings:

Well, I think I've inflicted more than enough on you this fortnight. I will aim to be considerably more prompt in a fortnight's time!

Oh, by the way: have you subscribed to this blog yet? Why not? It takes just a moment ...

See you on the streets!


Dave Charnowalks

Photo of Alan Tucker by Andrew Parnell, and of the Providence Row Shelter by Fay Bennett, both from 2015.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Dear Charnowalkers,

Another slightly tardy Charnoblog, but that's because I've been getting educational recently. Prof Brendan Hogan of New York University was good enough to engage me a second time to give his undergraduates a tour of medieval London. We tuned in to the echoes of Plantagenet and Tudor London which resonate in today's City. Sometimes it's just where something was, but there's much of the medieval in today's City.

Then on Saturday and Monday I took a group of Italian students to explore two significant aspects of Victorian London. On Saturday we got Dickensian in the oldest parts of London: the Borough and the Cornhill area of the City. On Monday evening we hit the Ripper trail, not just hearing about the infamous murders, but also considering their social context, and how the press kept the atmosphere of fear simmering in the popular mind. That's a big 'thank you' to Graziella Elia by the way, whose students I guided last year, for engaging me.

Guiding has an important part to play in education. I've been privileged to guide primary and secondary school groups, as well as higher education groups. There is much to be said for getting learners of whatever age onto the streets to understand that history is not about dates and details, but about people and what they did, and how that relates to what we do. But then, I've written about this elsewhere:

It's the last of my Bethnal Green Sundays this coming Sunday. Yes, I know it's Mother's Day - so why not bring Mum on a celebration of Bethnal Green through the words of a variety of authors, with readings from works dating from 1896 to 2003? It's not a bad tour at all, if I do say so myself, and we finish with no less a person than George Orwell, hearing why he ended up in the cells of the local police station.

If I've whetted your appetite, you can book via this link:

Next month will be 'Page and Stage' Sundays, with two tours featuring readings exploring the London of Dickens and how City trade was used as material by Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and two theatrical tours, getting to know Shakespeare the Londoner and discovering what Theatreland has done for performance in Britain.

You can get an idea of what 'Much Ado About Trading' is all about in my Footprints of London blog item here: http://footprintsoflondon.com/2016/04/all-that-glisters-is-not-gold
You can also get the background to one of the stops on 'Behind the Magic Curtain' in another Footprints item here: http://footprintsoflondon.com/2017/01/all-the-worlds-a-stage

Well, that's a fairly full round-up of what's been and what's to be. Of course you can get the fuller story from the schedule on my website, including another chance this Saturday to experience nearly 2,000 years' worth of unrest in the City: http://charnowalks.co.uk/charnowalks-tour-dates

Please consider following this blog: that way you won't need to be prompted by a social network post to come and take a look! Also it'll show me how much you appreciate my humble efforts to bring you the stories behind this multi-layered city which I'm pleased to call my hometown.

Hoping to see you on the streets soon.


Dave Charnowalks

Charnopicture of Playhouse Yard courtesy of Fay Bennett (2016)

Monday, 6 March 2017

Dear Charnowalkers,

Welcome back to my Charnoblog. We finished City Sundays at the end of February with a comfy half-dozen coming with me on 'Engineering Change' to explore how engineering shaped the City of London. Tunnels, bridges and telecommunications have all played their part in the development of the City. You can read more about the tour here: http://charnowalks.co.uk/engineering-change.

The underside of London Bridge
March sees my Bethnal Green Sundays tours underway. A small but thoroughly engaged audience attended this week's tour, 'The Battle for Bethnal Green'. The tour looks at what happened when the parish was absorbed by the growing metropolis of London. Once a semi-rural hamlet, the nineteenth century brought a number of issues through the new urban dimension. These issues were addressed at first by philanthropists, until the authorities took up the reins. You can get more details about the tour itself here: http://charnowalks.co.uk/the-battle-for-bethnal-green.

Bethnal Green Road 1794

Next week we move from heroes to villains with 'The Dark Side of the Green', a tour which uncovers crimes and wrongdoings from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Once again we meet outside St Leonard's Church, Shoreditch High Street and cross the boundary into Bethnal Green. The tour forms the nucleus of my study 'The Dark Side of East London', which was published last September by Pen and Sword. You can book for the tour via this link:

Incidentally, the book is available at a competitive price from the Wordery via this link!

Talking of books and literary matters, Saturday 11 March sees the reduced-price preview of my new Charles Dickens tour. It's a tour with readings which give an insight into how Dickens used the City for material. As I explained last time, the reduced-price preview is an idea I've taken from the theatre. As the first professional outing of a new tour isn't usually as slick as subsequent outings, this is why I charge only £5 a head, flat fee.

Why not join my mailing list to get the benefit of previews and other specials, as well as the tours I do through Footprints of London? Just e-mail me on charnowalks-bgn@yahoo.co.uk to be added. If you want to come on the Dickens preview, e-mail me to let me know and meet us outside Borough Underground Station for a 2:30 start.

It's just over a month to go before Walkie Talkie, the adult education introduction to guiding, is scheduled to start. We begin on 26 April for a ten-week course which gives you a thorough grounding in the discipline of tour guiding. It's an ideal way to prepare for a qualification course, as well as teaching you valuable research and presentation skills.

The course outline can be found through this link:

Enrolment details can be found through this link:

Well, I think I've detained you long enough. There are other plans in the offing, but I'll update you when more concrete information becomes available. Until then, look after yourselves; I hope to see you on the streets soon.


Dave Charnowalks

Charnopicture courtesy of Hazel Screen (London Bridge 2014)

Monday, 20 February 2017

Dear Charnowalkers,

Thank you for joining me for this fortnight's round-up of Charnowalks events. The dominant event of the fortnight was of course the first outing for 'The Unquiet City', an exploration of nearly two millennia of unrest in the City of London. The earliest story is Boudica's uprising in 61; the most recent is the Occupy London occupation of St Paul's Churchyard, from October 2011 to February 2012.

As usual with the first outing of a new Charnowalk, this was a reduced-price preview at a flat rate of £5 a head. I always find that the first outing will suffer from teething troubles, hence the special low rate. It's an idea that I lifted wholesale from the theatrical world, where there are preview performances at reduced prices so that the company can get the feel of the venue.

The tour is one of the Footprints of London miniseries of Revolutionary London tours, which are underway NOW! Do take a look at the Footprints site and keep your eyes open for the hammer-and-sickle logo: http://footprintsoflondon.com/walks

Footprints have various festivals during the course of the year, including the annual RiverFest and LitFest. The two annual festivals feature the inflation-busting offer of a season ticket which allows unlimited access to all of the festival's tours. So far the record is twenty-seven separate tours taken in one month by a season ticket-holder.

I had hoped to concentrate on the East End this year and to rein back the City stuff, but as you can see I've started the year with a new City tour. In connection with a commission, I will be bringing to light another tour which is, strictly speaking, a City tour, although the earlier stages will be in the Borough, an area which was part of the City until it was transferred to the Metropolitan Borough of Southwark in the 1920s.

The new tour has the working title 'A Dickens of a City': I know, I know, but what are you going to do? It's a Dickens tour in the City! I've been meaning to do one for some time, but it's quite an undertaking. The aim is that it is to be a tour with readings, my third such tour after 'Much Ado About Trading' and 'Bethnal Green in So Many Words', both of which appeared last year.

The problem about Dickens is that though what he wrote was excellent stuff and makes for great reading, he actually wrote a huge number of reflections on London in so many moods. To create a tour based on insights about London's story gained through Dickens' works, even if you limit it to a specific area, requires a deal of arbitrary selection. So I shall do what seems to work, and we'll see where we go from there!

So far we're talking Little Dorrit, The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Martin Chuzzlewit and Our Mutual Friend. I suppose once the first one's done, I can progress to sort out more material and then perhaps split it - with one north of the River and one on the south. It'll take time.

To round up, February is steaming through 'City Sundays', with the final tour this coming Sunday. 'Engineering Change' explores the relationship between engineering and the City, and how mechanical, electrical and civil engineering changed and shaped the City. Next month features Bethnal Green Sundays, which celebrate my very own manor. I've lived here all of my life, and so I'm giving all four of my local tours.

We begin with seeing how the Hamlet of Bethnal Green coped with being absorbed into the metropolis of London. Then we lift a few stones to uncover stories of crime and wrongdoing in the area in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The following week sees the impact World War Two had on the area. We finish with a tour featuring site-specific readings which explore Bethnal Green through the writings of authors including Iain Sinclair and George Orwell. It also features a fight scene from King Dido at the very footbridge where it occurred.

Talking about literature, I'm planning April's Sundays to have a distinctly literary theme. Stage and Page Sundays are coming! Well, it's my birthday on 24 April and literature's my thing, so watch this space!

Please keep up to date with my various doings by subscribing to this blog. Also you can join my monthly mailing list by e-mailing me on charnowalks-bgn@yahoo.co.uk and I'll add you. This'll give you a monthly listing, plus notifications of extra goodies as and when they happen!

That'll do for the moment - more details about things to come will be in the next instalment! I hope to see you on the streets some time soon.


Dave Charnowalks

Charnopictures courtesy of Ana Figueiredo (Old Bailey 2015) and Alan Tucker (Fleet Street Hill Footbridge 2016)

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Dear Charnowalkers,

The past fortnight has seen some interesting action. After East End Sundays, Charnowalks moved into February with City Sundays. The first was 'A Settlement Called Londinium', which explores the earliest stages of London's story. Beginning as a small settlement beside the Thames with no status, it became the capital of Roman Britannia within sixty years. The tour is illustrated with scans I took from the Museum of London's archaeological map. After all, we rely on archaeology for Londinium's story. There's very little written information.

City Sundays continue with 'Before the Make-Over', which tunes into echoes of Plantagenet and Tudor London in today's City, 'A Most Horrid Flame', an exploration of the Great Fire's causes and aftermath, and 'Engineering Change', a celebration of how engineering ventures have shaped today's City. You can find details here: http://charnowalks.co.uk/charnowalks-tour-dates

Later this month Footprints of London has a miniseries of tours exploring 'Revolutionary London', which runs into early March. This has been inspired by the centenary this year of the Russian Revolution. Many of London's associations with civil unrest will be explored. My contribution is 'The Unquiet City', a tour which explores nearly 2,000 years of uprisings aimed at the City of London.

As usual I shall be offering a reduced-priced preview for the tour's first outing, at £5 a head: please e-mail me at charnowalks-bgn@yahoo.co.uk if you'd like to come. For full Footprints listings, including the 'Revolutionary London' tours, please see the website: http://footprintsoflondon.com.

This focus on the City doesn't of course mean that I'm putting the East End stuff aside. In fact, currently I'm working on the new Walkie Talkie course, which is scheduled to start in April. It's Part Three, a development of the initial two courses, and while Parts One and Two are five weeks long each, Part Three will be ten weeks long. Also it will involve learners getting out onto the street, rather than the other two classroom-based courses.

It's envisaged that Part One will run annually in September, Part Two in November, and Part Three in April. This will give twenty weeks of tuition. Currently this won't lead to a qualification, but it will give the learner a thorough familiarity with the discipline of guiding, and with the Tower Hamlets. Enrolment is live for Part Three, and as it's the first outing it's being made available to those who haven't followed Parts One and Two. Please e-mail me for further details at this address: David.Charnick@towerhamletslls.ac.uk

Enrolment details are here:
The course outline is here:

Well, that's enough to be getting along with for now, so I'll sign off with all good wishes.


Dave Charnowalks

Charnopicture courtesy of Ana Figueiredo (Old Bailey 2015)