London Starts Here could develop it’s own Destination City to engage supporters

London Starts Here is such a good name I hope that Barbican Quarter Action won’t mind if I suggest something that would benefit the campaign by picking up ideas from the City’s new recovery plan.

The campaign points out that the City’s London Wall West office development seems out of line with its new Destination City plans to attract visitors, in part by celebrating and promoting the Square Mile’s heritage.

So why doesn’t the campaign develop its own version?

In the invite to an open meeting last week Peter Jenkinson provided one reason why the campaign is opposing the City’s plans for an enormous office block:

“Here at the Roman gateway into the city, the exact spot where Shakespeare lived, the site of the UK’s oldest Jewish cemetery, the location of the birthplace of Methodism and the start of the Great North Road to Scotland the City is planning to put cash before public benefit with its predominantly commercial 780,000 square feet London Wall West development. This would not happen in Paris or Rome”.

Blogs, maps and radical walks

The campaign Twitter account has started to share some links, including posts from the excellent blog A London Inheritance. These include a 2020 post about London Wall and another this week about Blue Plaques and what they celebrate.

There is also a wonderful post about City gardens and Fred Cleary, the City councillor who did so much to create them.

All the posts in the blog are incredibly well researched. The author explains how he is following in his father’s footsteps, re-photographing streets pictured between 1946 and 1954.

Additionally there are lots of excellent self-guided walks for the City, and I have curated some of them here. The official City guides could contribute more knowledge.

There is great potential to use the amazing Layers of London website, which shows overlay maps from the 13th century to the present day, and allows you to add records. I have demonstrated here how that can be done for a walk between Aldersgate and St Pauls.

I would be delighted to help research some London Starts Here walks that build on the other work that I have done with the Exploring EC1 project. My son Dan and I have experimented with everything from Google Earth to Esri and Mapotic systems.

I saw in the latest edition of the EC1Echo that the Imagine Fund is considering a grant for a history project on London Wall. If that is successful it might be the basis for some additional research and mapping.

London Starts Here might like to meet up with Danny Budzak, who is interested in developing radical story walks in EC1/2, and also consider virtual tours and other ideas that I floated for Bartholomew Fair in the EC1 Echo.

Destination City

The City’s £2.5 million annual Destination City campaign aims to attract more visitors, and keep its workers happy, with a wide range of events and other activities. Policy chief Chris Hayward writes in City Matters:

“But we cannot achieve this transition alone. We need the support of our residents and businesses to make change happen”.

Adding: “What better way to protect the present, than by telling tales of our past and our future?”

I think that residents, businesses, workers, students and visitors should have as much information as possible about the site, and possible development schemes. Focussing on the City’s heritage might reveal some common ground.

Update: The City is planning a wide range of activities on October 15 2022 – Ian Visits reports Square Mile to be filled with fairs, theatre and subterranean adventures