Thursday, 26 January 2017

Dear Charnowalkers,

Oops - a bit of a delay for this fortnight's blog. Apologies for that; it's been a busy start to the week. Still, I'm here now.

First, the written word. I've been privileged to have another item accepted for the prestigious Footprints of London blog. The blog features items written by members of the Footprints of London guiding co-operative, and thus gives a wealth of insight into a wide variety of London-related topics. You can find the blog here:

My item is 'All the World's a Stage', and is an appreciation of the work of theatrical impresario Peter Daubeny in bringing World Theatre to the public attention. From 1945 until his death from a brain tumour thirty years later, Daubeny was a major figure behind the British stage. You can see how his career began to grow in Stage by Stage, his book of recollections published in 1952. His World Theatre Seasons at the Aldwych Theatre feature on my theatreland tour 'Behind the Magic Curtain', which is next up on Thursday 2 February:

This month I've been featuring East End Sundays. We've explored the maritime trade that brought two centuries' worth of vivid life to the riverside East End ('Tidemarks from the Pool'), taken a balanced view of the Ripper murders ('The Ripper Enigma') and seen the impact on Bethnal Green of the Second World War ('Just You Wait and See'). One more to come: an exploration of the borderland between the City and the East End which is Aldgate ('In and Out of the Aldgate'). That's on Sunday 29 January, and places are available! Details here:

Next month sees City Sundays, with four tours exploring important aspects of the City of London's story. We begin with where London's story really starts ('A Settlement Called Londinium'), we tune in to the echoes of Medieval London in today's City ('Before the Make-Over'), follow the destruction caused by the Great Fire ('A Most Horrid Flame') and round off with an appreciation of how engineering has shaped the City we have today ('Engineering Change').

February promises to be an interesting month, with a new tour on the stocks to be previewed on 18 February. This will be my presentation of riots and rebellions in the City. It will feature more recent activism like the Stop the City and Occupy London movements (the latter I'm moving from my tour 'Law and Order EC') as well as older activity, going back to Roman times.

The idea of the reduced-price preview is something I’ve taken from the theatre. As the first professional outing for a new tour will involve an element of feeling your way, I offer these first outings as previews, charging only a £5 flat fee. After all, it’s as much a tryout for me as it is a performance for the audience. You can't book for these, but you can reserve your place by e-mailing me on or by texting 07982 132231: don't forget to give your name in your text!.
There are some other interesting projects brewing, but I can’t say anything yet – just watch this space!
In the spirit of trying to keep it reasonably snappy, that's all for now. Laters!
Dave Charnowalks
Pictures courtesy of Ann Flowers ('Sanctuary' 2016) and Hazel Screen (London Bridge 2014)

Monday, 9 January 2017

Greetings, Charnowalkers!

Welcome to the first blog entry for 2017, which promises to be an interesting and inspiring year for Charnowalks. Media guru Hilary Kruger has been subjecting me to an overhaul, which is still ongoing, so look out for marked improvements in the service.

A new plan for Charnowalks is themed Sundays. I have decided to offer Sunday afternoon tours which share a connection. For someone working to develop a structured guiding culture in Tower Hamlets, the decision for January was obvious - East End Sundays. Each Sunday tour in January covers an important part of the East End's story.

The first Sunday was 'Tidemarks from the Pool', my exploration of the maritime trade that brought a vibrant life to the East End for some two centuries before the closure of the docks and the dismantling of the Port of London. I had an engaged and enthusiastic audience who were very interested in getting to grips with the richness of life in the riverside Tower Hamlets between the 1770s and the 1970s. This we explored as it was revealed by a wealth of heritage that has been left behind. Tower Hamlets has much to offer the visitor, but until we get a properly organised guiding base it won't be promoted anything like it should.

There are still three East End Sundays to come. Next Sunday (15th) is 'The Ripper Enigma', a grown-up look at the notorious murders of 1888 and their context. This is followed on the 22nd by 'Just You Wait and See', a tour which assesses the impact of World War Two on Bethnal Green, and then on the 29th comes 'In and Out of the Aldgate', an exploration of the borderland which is at once in the City and the East End.

Details are to be found on my website:

February will see City Sundays; at the moment I'm pondering what March will be - watch this space. Or better still, join my mailing list! Just an e-mail to will get you on the list for monthly updates.

In the midst of all this preparation I've been doing some background reading to enrich my theatrical tour 'Behind the Magic Curtain'. I've read an excellent biography of Joseph Grimaldi by Andrew McConnell Stott which sheds a good deal of light on the state of the stage in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Now I'm reading the reminiscences of Peter Daubeny, the man responsible for giving world theatre a serious platform in London, particularly with his World Theatre Seasons at the Aldwych Theatre.

Well, that's the state of play at the moment. There are other plans bubbling away which will need a little more simmering before I make them public. I shall return in a fortnight and reveal more ...

Until then, take good care of yourselves. I hope you've been able to avoid the colds doing the rounds, or that you've had one and it's now a thing of the past.


Dave Charnowalks

Photos courtesy of Alan Tucker, Ana Figueiredo and Nika Garrett