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