Well, that was quite the year and one which we will both want to forget about, and spend decades watching documentaries about.

I deem that it is time for a dose of omphaloskepsis, and to find out which of my miserable scrawlings captured your attention the most during the past year.

As a writer, writing about a city that you’re not supposed to be going out to see is a unique challenge, and while it was candidly tempting to shut-down for a self-imposed (and unpaid) furlough, there were wider issues to consider.

When we are thrown unwillingly into unfamiliar situations we often crave a bit of familiarity to help ground ourselves. Even the most adventurous soul will hanker for a few home comforts.

2020 was a tumultuous challenge to many of us, from the shakeup with work, the masks, the closure of shops, the general shutting down of society. Popping out for a pint of milk could now be a death sentence.

We were in unfamiliar and at times very scary lands.

It’s times like this we turn to the familiar, and for me, that meant writing, so I kept on doing it. And in doing so, hopefully, I was able to deliver small nuggets of regular familiarity to you in these troubled times.

I did divert slightly from the core, such as spotting interesting home delivery services that I thought would be interesting, but also, in recent months, having more time to write the longer historical articles.

That’s why I kept on writing. It’s enlightened self-interest.

So while 2020 has been dreadful, and 2021 is starting badly, looking forward, we have a vaccine, and while it will take months to reach enough people, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Soon we’ll be able to go to museums, to galleries, to walk further than we can today, to catch the trains to exciting places once more, to drink in a pub without needing to eat a Scotch Egg.

I personally suspect that we’ll still be wearing facemasks for most of 2021, but society will be able to open up again. I might even keep wearing facemasks as my hay fever has been fantastic this year, and that has to be down in part to having a barrier between the pollen and the nose.

In transport lands we can look forward to the opening of the Northern line extension, and who knows, maybe even something Elizabeth line shaped coming our way.

And with your support, I’ll be writing about some of it.

The top 10 articles you read in 2020

These are individual articles, if I were to do it by category, the alleys of London series would trump the lot, which is lovely.

British Museum makes 1.9 million images available for free

The British Museum has revamped its online collections database, making over 1.9 million photos of its collection available for free online under a Creative Commons license.

Plans announced to demolish and move East Croydon station

East Croydon station could be moving to a new location if plans for a major railway upgrade in the area are approved, and funding found.

Royal Iris – the Mersey ferry rusting away on the Thames

The ferry that once took people across the Mersey has ended up with a very sad retirement, rusting away on the banks of the Thames.

London Underground’s yellow tube train

An old 1938 era tube train pulls into a tube station, and rather than being the classic red – the whole train is bright yellow. It wasn’t popular as passengers flee in panic from this yellow terror.

London’s museums and galleries reopening dates

Life returns to London’s cultural landscape as museums and galleries are waking from their virus imposed slumber and welcoming visitors again.

Check out this London tube map made from a working circuit board

Fancy a tube map with a difference? How about one made from a circuit board – with lights that show live train movements?

National Archives makes its entire digital archive available for free

The National Archives, a repository of millions of government and official documents has decided to make its entire digitised archive available for free.

The tube station that had a movable platform

Generally speaking, when standing on a tube station platform, the only thing that should move is the tube train as it arrives, but there was once a tube station with a platform that also moved.

Taking a look inside Crossrail’s Farringdon station

One of the Crossrail stations closest to completion is Farringdon, and there’s been a chance to go down and have a look inside and see how close to completion it is.

Is HP Sauce really named after the Houses of Parliament?

There’s a rather famous brown condiment, HP Sauce, which features a rather famous building, coincidentally called the Houses of Parliament, but is one named after the other?

2020 site traffic – 5.3 million page impressions, down on 2019 which is hardly a surprise considering the collapse in the events guide listings, but not as bad a decline as expected. I put in part down to writing more (and dare I say it, occasionally better) articles.

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12 comments
  1. Philip says:

    Thanks once again for a great blog – particularly enjoying the history of alleys around the office I have rarely seen this year.

  2. Jamie says:

    Ian you do write a wonderful blog, I check in each day and love the stories and articles. I’ve attended many recommendtations on the back of your suggestions.

    I mostly love the comment section and the nimby’s that frequent them. It seems that any change is bad especially anything that means spending money for future generations or changing something thats always been done that way!

    Heres to a great year for you and your blog in 2021.

  3. Mr Morgan says:

    Please continue your blog in 2021 especially the transport news on a Friday.

    Happy New Year!

  4. Ewan says:

    Happy New Year Ian, and thanks for everything you’ve written this year – especially articles about the alleys which often encourage me to take a diversion to explore!

  5. Chris Wood says:

    Thanks for such a brilliant blog. It is one of the things that has helped to keep us sane this year, and I think you can be very proud of your efforts.

    A bit surprised your page impressions have gone down. I for one have viewed far more of your pages than in any previous year.

  6. JP says:

    Ian, thanks.
    I think I can safely say that you’ve kept alot of us jogging along through London particularly with your erudition, entertainment and balance. Cheers.

  7. Andrew Gwilt says:

    I really do like your information and articles. Happy New Year Ianvisits.

  8. Veronica Burrows says:

    Thanks so much for your always interesting and informative blogs. You have helped keep me sane over the past year and hopefully you will be doing the same into 2021. Best wishes for a very Happy New Year to you Ian

  9. Terry Jones says:

    Yours is the only blog I bother with. Always concise, informative & clearly written. Well worth £3 a month.Look forward to more gems this year (& hope your health improves).

  10. Dave Smith says:

    Simply – Thanks from one & all.

  11. Steve Ehrlicher says:

    I look forward to your Wednesday summary and always find something to interest me. London born but now deep in Somerset, your blog is a slender tie to my roots. Happy new-fangled year.

  12. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for keeping up the research and writing in 2020, Ian! It’s much appreciated. And you’re not as miserable as you purport above. I think there is actually some cheeky jolliness within you and it comes out in your writing.

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