Tourists, please for ‘Destination Clerkenwell’

With hotels opening across EC1 and London welcoming tourists back post-pandemic, David Wilcox proposes a new visitor push – ‘Destination Clerkenwell’ 

By David Wilcox

David Wilcox
David Wilcox

Last year the City Corporation launched Destination City to gain new visitors and increase footfall for its ailing visitor attractions, bars and restaurants. I live in the City, and think Clerkenwell should follow with an initiative to promote sustainable tourism. 

Here’s a few reasons to support this idea. Articles in the EC1 Echo remind me why I find it so engaging to stroll from Farringdon, where I live, through Smithfield Market, St John’s Gate and Spa Fields to the Angel.It’s a great area for walking, and I’m working with the Living Streets Footways project and local guides to create an online map with key points of interest. 

The first focuses on the radical history of Clerkenwell, with support from The Peel and director Olu Alake, to help celebrate its 125th birthday. It could be the start of a digital Clerkenwell archive and as Olu wrote in EC1 Echo No 21: “We want to utilise the rich archives of the area and work with local heritage and cultural organisations and individuals to bring this history alive using 21st century technology”. 

There is so much to explore in Clerkenwell at historic venues like The Charterhouse, the Museum of the Order of St John and Marx Memorial Library as well as a multiplicity of pubs, cafes and shops. Clerkenwell Green is being remade as a destination. Exmouth Market is buzzing. For a deep dive into London’s history, the London Metropolitan Archives is a stone’s throw away. There are film locations across the area. The cluster of cultural organisations is large and growing, with Sadler’s Well Theatre indisputably London’s most important dance venue, the Barbican Centre around the corner, the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration due in 2025 and the London Museum (the Museum of London) due in 2026. All of these could be part of Destination Clerkenwell using maps, digital media, virtual tours and walks. 

Destination Clerkenwell should be handled in a sustainable manner. One question is how organisations might come together to offer rich experiences to visitors, workers and residents alike. In the City of London, Destination City will take on Culture Mile’s earlier work while City Hall and Mayor Sadiq Khan have also done much to reinvigorate London’s tourism and the boost from international inbound tourism has been considerable. 

Who might champion Clerkenwell? The Destination Clerkenwell story would have to be a strong proposition. In the past Clerkenwell has been marketed as London’s ‘secret village’, but now the area is better known that sobriquet may no longer the case. But Clerkenwell is known for its special character and keeping that would be important. Visitors aren’t necessarily a great boon to residential areas, and there are already concerns about the developments we may see when Smithfield Market moves in a few years. Many do not want another Covent Garden. 

The key is to balance the interests of business, workers, residents and visitors. Creating maps and a digital archive of local heritage together could help build a partnership for sustainable tourism. Then visitors arriving on the Elizabeth Line could take the Barbican exit for Destination City – or the Farringdon exit for Destination Clerkenwell.

Email [email protected]

AdBlocker Message

Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors. Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker.

About EC1 Echo

EC1 Echo is your free local independent community news website. We publish stories to the web across the week and offer a platform for local people to highlight what matters to them. EC1 Echo is a not-for-profit project in partnership with the Peel Institute. Please consider becoming a subscriber supporter from £3.00 per month.
We need your help

Submit your listing here