Walking in London in 1992

Lee originally left this a comment on my post about Walking in London, but I think it’s interesting enough to share again here.

I wasn’t old enough to spend my days walking in London in 1992, but Lee’s painted a pretty different picture to the London I see on my walks today.

When I first came to London in 1992, I was doing work placements. Then I got my first job which paid 4.5k a year. My pay didn’t cover a flat, so I stayed in various places for free with friends. At the weekends, I’d walk everywhere. I hardly knew London, but with a Travelcard, a belly full of pound slices of pizza with dodgy coleslaw I discovered most of London. I’d walk from Belsize Park to Blackheath and back via Maida Vale, from Burnt Oak to Camden, from Greenwich to Oxford Street. I’d make it a rule to walk somewhere I’d never walked before. Detours were good. There was no plan.

I got to meet people and started to love London. It’s changed a lot. There are few places that offer solitude any more. The South Bank used to be quiet in places. I even saw Banksy before he was famous putting up an artwork (there were a few of them, it wasn’t him alone).

I loved looking up at buildings and catching glimpses of how things used to be, how they changed, imagining who lived in places and how and why areas evolved. The layers of history are still there to see.

What saddens me now, is that 24 years ago, the grottyness was old, the neglect was os something that used to be beautiful but was now falling down, or an old shop sign that had been left. This neglect was discovered and cherished (like Shoreditch) and made beautiful again (when it wasn’t redeveloped).Now the grottyness is new, plastic, cheap, gaudy or fake.

Lee Newham

Do you have memories of London from other years? I’d love to hear more.

5 thoughts on “Walking in London in 1992

  1. Simon Harding

    I worked in Soho in ’86/’87. I remember the old actor and his wife at number 40 Dean Street – George Munting, I remember Paul Raymond coming to check on his flats, I remember Derek Block getting angry with someone parking in his space, smashing the windscreen and then paying to get it mended. I remember Michael, I remember the gay pub on Old Compton Street. I remember the working girls and Dog Shit Alley. I remember the lump of lead the landlord at the Ship in Wardour street used to keep “just in case”. I remember “Just in case”.

    I remember having a chat out of the window with a girl in marketing, 2 doors down and one floor up, I remember the offie in Old Compton Street selling the cheapest wine I ever bought outside France, T remember learning to juggle in Soho Square, I remember Rupert Rhymes (then head of ENO) bringing donuts, I remember being the only one in the neighbourhood that went into the bookshops for the books, I remember Ronnie Scott’s jokes, I remember a village. Good times!

    1. Carla B Post author

      Those sound like very good times! Thank you for sharing – it’s so lovely to get a glimpse of a city I never knew. I’m going to share your comment in a blog tomorrow so nobody misses it.

  2. Michael Benardout

    Are you sure George Munting was an actor? I worked with George 1970 – 1974. He was an interior designer of hotels, restaurants, pubs etc.. Looked a bit ‘eccentric’ maybe like an actor.
    Often wonder what became of him

    1. Simon Harding

      well maybe not – I could never be quite sure whether what he was saying was true or that he was just winding up a gullible 23 year old fresh from the countryside! He used to come up to see us when he was bored or when he wanted to have a chat or a laugh at our expense (which was most days). I am so glad I have met someone else that knew him.


Share your thoughts