Through the ‘Urethra of London’ – tracking the Philley Brook (many houses in Fillebrook Road, Leytonstone were squatted as part of the No M11 Link Road protest) in Leytonstone… from the Ventures and Adventures in Topography radio show presented by John Rogers and Nick Papadimitriou broadcast on Resonance 104.4fm. The show is also available as a podcast.
The show looks at the rich tradition of early 20th century topographical walking guides to London and the South East and explores what use they might be to us today. Each episode takes a trip through the pages of a different book as if we are embarking on a wayward topographical ramble, and includes contemporary field reports from walks in the areas described in these classic texts.
“Geographically Leytonstone is just a case of in one end and out the other. It’s not the end of the road like Whitechapel, nor is it the beginning of the end like Southgate. Leytonstone, if it’s like anything it is the urethra of London.”
Lenny’s Documentary, Ian Bourn (1978)
I came across the above quote from a film by Leytonstone film-maker Ian Bourn not long after I moved to the area. I quickly became aware that previous repeated viewing of the films of fellow Leytonstonian, John Smith, had left such a powerful imprint upon my psyche that they may well have influenced my decision to move out here to E11. I decided to further research what I then termed the ‘cinematic topography of the north eastern frontier‘.
Leytonstone at one point had the largest population of artists of any place in England. The building of the M11…
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