On Friday morning I decided to email the contacts at the Story of London events asking when the rather delayed website would be updated and admirably, got an email back that same afternoon saying it would go live sometime this week. The Diamond Geezer however noticed that it went live on Friday afternoon, probably about the same time as that email was being sent to me.

So, lets have a look shall we?

Hmm, unless my eyes deceive me, there is a lot less happening this year than last year. Also, no themed weekends – which is actually a good thing – but it does make the event appear a bit more disjointed than before.

My main gripe with the Story of London is that there is actually very little that is genuinely unique to the event. Yes, many of the events are themed around London topics, but most of the venues would have been doing something similar anyway, so what is being laid on that wouldn’t have happened without the Mayor’s Office prodding and poking people?

Out of the whole lot, I can probably think of maybe three or four that I am fairly sure wouldn’t have happened without the backing of a large media campaign from London’s taxpayers. Which is a shame, as they are the sorts of events that would be popular anyway and would have been willingly promoted by the various listings guides and websites in London.

In essence, the Story of London is a way for a lot of venues who are already planning to do something, to get involved in a joint media campaign. Which I don’t have a problem with. It’s just a shame that most of the people who read about the Story of London will think it is an annual one-off and not realize that similar walks, talks, lectures, etc are happening almost every week in London.

Hopefully without sounding like I am bragging, but I really can’t see that much difference between the Story of London and the listings guide that I already maintain – and do so completely free of charge. I wonder if I can get an EU grant?

Slight whine over, I have taken a look at the rather laborious website and worked my way though the data.

Out of 116 events (2 were taking the proverbial and I ignored them), I found twelve that sound above average for the sorts of talks/walks etc that happen in London every week.

I have also created a somewhat larger Google Map of the events which you can see here or you can download the whole thing as a spreadsheet and do whatever you want with it.

These are my personal highlights:

Docking at Dagenham

Discover the fascinating history of Dagenham’s Dock, first built by Samuel Williams, after 1887. There is also a rare opportunity to visit the working dock as part of the guided tour.

1st Oct 10am

£5 – Booking required

London’s Learned Societies: Past, Present and Future

This lecture is one of a series of seven lectures entitled ‘Breaking the Mould’ about the national Learned and Scientific Societies and the Royal Academy of Arts which share a home in Burlington House.

1st Oct 1pm

Free – booking required

London Without… Bazalgette

A guided trail that celebrates one of London’s most important if not fragrant, inventions – the sewage system invented by Victorian Engineer Joseph Bazalgette.

Using new augmented reality technology, old scratch and sniff cards and Gin – the spirit that fuelled Victorian society. London Without… Bazalgette will give you a visceral experience of life both before and after Bazalgette’s brilliant solution to London’s sewage problems.

2nd, 3rd, 9th & 10th Oct 9am

£10 – booking required

The Bazalgette tour sounded good – but is actually a bit of a rip off.

So I have crossed it out.

Tours of Burlington Arcade with the Head Beadle

Learn more about the fascinating history of Britain’s first ever shopping arcade, opened in 1819 to great acclaim and now recognised as a historic and architectural masterpiece.

Sat 2nd & 9th Oct – 10.30am, 2pm; Sun 3 October – 2pm; Throughout the week at 12noon.

Free – booking required

309 Regent Street: History revealed

Join our guide for a tour of this historic building and discover the fascinating history of the Sports Hall, find the site of one of the first public swimming pools in London, and enjoy the elegant Fyvie Hall. We will also tell you about our plans for the future of Britain’s first cinema.

2nd Oct 1:30pm

Free – booking required

Crossness Engines & Thames Water’s London Tideway Improvements

Take a look behind the scenes of the restoration of part of London’s famous sewer system. You will be able to see how the work is progressing and see Prince Consort, one of the massive engines, in steam.

The site, which has been closed since November 2009, is being opened exclusively for this event.

3rd Oct – from 10am


Beside the Thames: the ‘Victorian internet’ and the discovery of DNA

Visit King’s College London Archives and find out more about the many scientific discoveries for which the college has made right in the heart of London.

As part of the evening, you can also join the archivists for a short tour of the campus for a clearer view of how and why these discoveries happened at King’s and in London.

6th Oct 6pm

Free – booking required

The future of transport: to infinity and beyond?

An evening of presentations and talks to look at what new forms of transport there might be on the horizon – and what is already being developed – and ask: What forms will electric vehicles actually take? Do driverless taxis work for real people? Should we look seriously at aerial transport networks?

6th Oct 6:30pm

£8 – Booking required

Imperial Russian Stout Festival

Join the Meantime Brewery for a festival of six different Imperial Russian Stouts all brewed in January 2010 as part of a recreation of the story of this great London beer style, which was specially formulated for huge export markets of Russia, Scandinavia and the Baltic States.

7th Oct 9am

Free – booking required

Tour of King’s Cross Central development

The presentation and tour will take in Pancras Road and Regents Canal as well as offer a look into the restricted area of the historic Goods Yard. There will also be a chance to see construction work for the new facility for Central St. Martins and a number of heritage buildings.

7th Oct 10am

Free – but limited to first 30 people to show up

London Fire Brigade Museum Open Day

Find out how past events and incidents have affected the development of the London Fire Brigade from the Great Fire of London and how this fire influenced the evolution of fire fighting to the establishment of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, as a public service, in 1866. I’ve been before and enjoyed it.

8th Oct from 10am


Exploring the Archaeology of Greenwich Park

Take a guided walk around Greenwich Park, examining the fascinating archaeology while considering the 21st century usage of the Park, including the 2012 Olympic Games. The walk will start with the unique geological, topographic and prehistoric position of the park within London.

10th Oct 10:30am

Free – booking required


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  1. Helen says:

    Coincidentally, I was looking for Story Of London on the GLA website on Friday night – amazing how these things suddenly appear….

  2. Andew H says:

    Hi Ian- love the website. tried to book for Bazalgette but the link to the booking website doesnt work – wondered if you tried and had a way around it. alternatively you dont have the contact you used do you ? Many thx

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "Highlights from the Story of London"
  1. […] year, the festival has been moved from June to October. Like fellow blogger IanVisits, I’d been somewhat concerned that no information about the festival had appeared on the […]

  2. […] couple of events that curators and pros can turn into something special. Because at the moment, as Ian Visits says, the Story of London is just ‘a way for a lot of venues who are already planning to do […]

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