Jerry and Zeppelins.

Was that an eminent writer aka historian of east London giving a talk or was it a drop-in session for coffee cup holding hairies and mobile-charging fidgets?

Never seen the like.

The Whitechapel Idea Store was buzzing. Who designed that dirty -looking box of a building? My friend couldn’t find it ; the second biggest monolith on the block. Volunteers working cheerily for the Literary Festival were everywhere as were the free pens and coffee.

Jerry White started his presentation quietly and I thought we thirty people were in for an hour of seat-numbing boredom. Not so. That man knows his stuff and kept on  target. Very happy I attended despite people going in and out of the swing doors,. Doesn’t that look rude to other people? Some great questions about WW1 and the people living through it came from the floor. There were the inevitable questions about the role of women and them pesky Suffragettes. The conversation swung to the fact that opponents to the Great War were compliant and ceased their noise-making. I was forced to stand on my feet, mic-less and declare that history records through accounts and records the considered opposition by the dangerous women of the WILPF, The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Stamp that floor and clap those hands. True to form the male historian wasn’t too up on that WILPH stuff. That’s exactly how history or herstory here gets hidden. Jerry’s book panders to the loveliness of multi-culture and he was quite rehearsed in talking about the Chinese of Limehouse and the Lascars of Wapping and their Legacy.

Whatevs. It was jolly good because we the public were well-received and the acts are first-class…Gentle Author tomorrow. Yay!

Free events in Clapton, Hackney (ALW 2013)

Adult Learners’ Week

with Hackney Historic Buildings Trust


A programme of entertaining and informative talks about Hackney to celebrate Adult Learners’ Week 2013

                       Iain Sinclair: Celebrating Unbuilt Utopias and other Notable Follies

Monday 20th May 2013 – The Round Chapel AuditoriumThe Round Chapel on 240111

Iain Sinclair has written numerous works on Hackney and the East End including Hackney: That Rose Red Empire.  In this talk he will look at some of the consequences of imposing grand-project parks and computer-generated palaces of vanities on East London. He outlines a few absurdist strategies for countering such ruinously expensive activity from the attractive but untenable position: that there is nothing wrong with any extravagant plan or proposition, so long as it is not actually constructed.



Matthew Green: Hackney in the 18th Century

Tuesday 21st May 2013 – St Augustine’s Tower

In the 18th century, the villages of Hackney were mini utopias for the City bourgeois, yet beneath their picture-postcard surface festered deadly whirlpools of depravity and despair. In this dramatized talk, London historian and broadcaster Dr Matthew Green evokes a world of pig swinging, deathly bowling greens, hot-air balloon launches, philosophical reflection, brutal murder and inquisitions of insanity. Featuring vivid, eye-witness accounts from previously unpublished Hackney diarists and a cameo by Dick Turpin.



Jerry White: Zeppelin Nights – London and Hackney in the First World War

Wednesday 22nd May 2013 – St Augustine’s Tower

Jerry White is a distinguished historian of London and a former Chief Executive of the London Borough of Hackney. Following major works on 19th and 20th century London, his last book London in the Eighteenth Century, A Great and Monstrous Thing was published in 2012. He is working on a book on London in the First World War, and this talk will convey the experience of the Great War for the people of London.



Kate Colquhoun on Mr Briggs’ Hackney and the impact of the Railway

Thursday 23rd May 2013 – St Augustine’s Tower

Critically acclaimed, Mr Briggs’ Hat was the No 1 selling real-crime hardback of 2012. A BBC2 adaptation of the book – Murder on the Victorian Railway – aired in February 2013. Kate Colquhoun will talk about tracing Thomas Briggs – the first victim of murder on the British railway in 1864 – life in Hackney, the impact of the railway on Victorian life and why this crime caused such a sensation in its day. Kate writes widely for the national press and appears regularly on TV and radio.


*Although all events are free, booking is essential. Due to the size of St Augustine’s Tower, places for these talks are limited to 40 per evening.

For Iain Sinclair’s talk at The Round Chapel we can offer 500 places, but booking is still essential. For this talk only we are asking for a minimum donation of £2 per head to cover expenses.

All bookings can be made with Lisa Pressland, Venue Manager for Hackney Historic Buildings Trust. Please email or call 02089860029 to reserve a place.

Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start, with the exception of Kate Colquhoun’s talk on Thursday 23rd May, for which doors open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start.

Full addresses for both venues as follows:

St Augustine’s Tower

St John’s Churchyard

Behind 354 Mare  Street

E8 1HR


The Round Chapel Auditorium

1d Glenarm Road


E5 0LY