Walk of ages

A cutaway image of the proposed Centre for Music Credit Uniform, Visualisation Studio

Help join Clerkenwell and Smithfield’s historical dots with local writer David Wilcox

A group of local residents has started a deeper “timeline” exploration into the past, present and future of the Smithfield and south Clerkenwell areas, following our story by Peter Bill.

Market buildings will be turned into a venue for exhibitions and events, the Museum of London will move to the long-empty western end of the market, and a new Centre for Music (impression of the proposed centre, pictured) is planned on the former Museum site.

Stretching back 1,000 years to the beginnings of the livestock market, the timeline will take in the 12th-century foundation of London’s oldest surviving church, St Bartholomew the Great, and Barts Hospital. It then stretches through the 16th-century executions and burning of martyrs in west Smithfield – right through to recent developments in Smithfield such as the Culture Mile programme.

The exploration, led by former Evening Standard planning correspondent David Wilcox, also covers aspects of Clerkenwell and Smithfield’s history such as the area’s crafts activities from watchmaking right through to the new creative industries in the neighbourhood.

Said David: “Last year I really enjoyed developing an online map of the 1977 heritage trail for Clerkenwell, originally created by local resident Mike Franks. Researching the trail revealed to me the many linkages between City and Clerkenwell. I think there’s scope to re-establish connections, and help both residents and visitors explore the area.

“The new Barts Square development has brought several hundred new residents to Smithfield, and the Elizabeth Line station at Farringdon (Crossrail) – coupled with Thameslink – will make this one of the most accessible areas in London.”

David hopes that these improvements will benefit all the area’s communities. “In many ways the planned developments are good news,” he says. “But I do think it’s important to explore whether local residents will benefit from these changes.

“Therefore our first task will be to pull together existing information about the area, and then start explorations led by people’s particular enthusiasms – such as the green spaces we need to cherish and the music available in the many local venues.”

“We’ve already had offers of help from London Metropolitan Archive, and the Layers of London project which displays maps from 1270 to the present day, enabling people to add their own photos and stories. The Culture Mile team are very encouraging.”

David hopes to aggregate people’s ideas and build up a huge, living picture of the area. “Today anyone with a smartphone can be a reporter – so we want to use a mix of print, thanks to the Echo, a website and social media to help people start their own explorations, and bring the results together.

You will be able to see links to existing information and maps plus the evolving exploration at: commons.london

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