Eerie East London

Discussion in 'Fortean Traveller' started by James_H, Oct 24, 2009.

  1. Fats_Tuesday

    Fats_Tuesday Abominable Snowman

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    It was very weird - one of the joys of a psychogeographical derive is the fact when you find cool stuff, it's totally unexpected and you find yourself building your own personal links between different encountered elements; e.g. in my head, the Guildhall will always be a London extension of Hogwarts.
     
  2. rasputin

    rasputin Devoted Cultist

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  3. CodenameThrow

    CodenameThrow Abominable Snowman

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    I spent a couple of years living in East London, for my sins (as close in as Bethnal Green and as far out as Walthamstow) and it IS a strange place, although the twin factors of urban decay and hipsterness rub uncomfortably against each other a bit too much and take the edge off any real psychogeographical air, IMO. Shame, really. Anyway, one of the more interesting things to do is walk the length of the road that goes from Aldgate East to, well, Romford or something - not the whole way, obviously. You can stroll down from Hackney to Whitechapel (maybe taking in Spitalfields, although the air has been sucked out of that place), turn left up the road towards Mile End - and then walk to Stratford. This takes in all sorts of really interesting sights - you go past some interesting and historical pubs (The Blind Beggar, The Grave Maurice), some interesting squares and gardens (the area around Mile End and Queen Mary's, with the landscaped nature garden and the lovely housing squares), some interesting developments, (that arts trust up in Bow, near the church) and end up at the Olypmic developments. Doing this you get a real sense for the way that one road can connect a lot of parts of the city: the area by Bow Church in particular makes you feel as if you're stuck in between two very distinct zones, the really noisy and busy parts of Whitechapel, Mile End, Stepney Green and the developing sections of Stratford and Newham. It's also really interesting to see how they're adapting the waterways (the Bow canals, Fish Island and so on) for the Games.

    Little pockets of Hackney are good to explore - like the village near Victoria Park, which is now quite swanky, and the park itself - with the pavilion and lurking pubs. There's also a completely barmy pub in a park next to Grove Road (just about where it joins with the Roman Road) which isn't weird in itself, it just sticks out of the landscape like a rotten tooth. It's always full of interesting characters with a couple of stories to tell too, and it's called the Palm Tree. It's fitting that pubs shape a lot of the landscape of this part of London, I reckon, given that they play such a huge part in the community and have done for centuries.

    The liberal scattering of tabernacles, Orthodox churches, candle factories, playhouses, steam baths, music halls, crime scenes, listed public toilets and mosques also gives the area a very unusual and fascinating character.

    There's a pub on Bow Road called the Bow Bells (I think) which has a sign above the gents reading "Beware of the ghost" but I never found out what that was about.

    And on yet another pub theme, try The Ten Bells down near Brick Lane, if you haven't already: a couple of Jack The Ripper's victims used to drink in there. In fact, if you feel like exploring Whitechapel and Aldgate a bit more, have a read of Donald Rumbelow's Jack The Ripper book, and Slow Chocolate Autopsy by Ian Sinclair. Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd also fictionalises the supposedly Satanic influence on a lot of the area's churches.
     
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  4. James_H

    James_H And I like to roam the land

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    Thanks, throw

    There's a lot of interesting replies here; here's another thing to throw in - has anyone read Rodinsky's Room by Rachel Lichstenstein (with a few bits by Iain Sinclair)? It's a very interesting investigation into an old 'Disappeared' guy, whose 1960s room was found intact in the the 1980s above a synagogue off Brick Lane.

    It's a bit of an odd book, but touches on many fascinating things - the eastern European Jewish history of the area, fast disappearing as the book was being written, the mystery of the disappearance itself (not so much a mystery, in the end - just a very lonely and forgotten man being sectioned and no one really noticing), the personal, sometimes rather occult 'quest' of the author to get to the bottom of her own identity through an outside medium (with the de rigeur magical coincidences) and of course the psychogeography of the area, which she goes to Poland to fully understand...
     
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  5. Spookdaddy

    Spookdaddy Cuckoo

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    Yes, very interesting book.

    And I was going to recommend Lichtenstein's companion volume to that, Rodinsky's Whitechapel, which is a lovely little book - basically a beautifully produced and illustrated walking guide to the sites and buildings relevant to the story - but I notice that it's now selling on Amazon for £60.00.

    Bloody hell! Why's it always only the books and records you'd rather starve than sell that are ever worth silly money?
     
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  6. James_H

    James_H And I like to roam the land

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    An old tutor of mine is the biggest name-dropper in the world (she knows everyone famous, I believe she even used to go out with the current PM), and lives round the corner in Broadway Market - anyway, when I mentioned the book she said 'oh yes, I know Rachel' - hopefully I can get a lend of the book you've mentioned.
     
  7. rynner2

    rynner2 Great Old One

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    I don't know anything about Eerie East London (I was a West London boy, me ;) ), but any city as old and complex as London must have certain 'vibes'.

    My last visit to the area was in March, 1984, when I took a sail training vessel into the West India Docks on the Isle of Dogs. All around was derelict dockland - I don't recall any buildings over two storeys, although there may have been a few old silos or the like around. (I wish now I'd had a camera with me, but in those years photos were mostly of family...)

    This is the area now known to the world as Canary Wharf. All this has sprung up in the last 25 years. From the world's busiest docklands to a major financial centre, which itself has undergone recent ructions in the Credit Crunch.

    So much history, packed into what was mostly marshland, a few centuries ago.
     
  8. Tapeloop

    Tapeloop Junior Acolyte

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    I used to live in Bow back in the early 90s and drank in the Bow Bells quite a bit. We spent ages wondering why the pub would suddenly fill up with loads of tourists and then empty, then someone found out it was part of a ghost tour.

    I believe the toilets are supposed to be haunted by a ghost that flushes the loos and throws open locked toilet doors. I never saw anything, but they were always freezing cold, dark and a bit spooky.

    Nice pub (well, was in 1992 anyway), worth popping in for a pint.
     
  9. OldTimeRadio

    OldTimeRadio Antediluvian

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    A former Net correspondent several years back posted me a street map of Washington, DC, with a Star of David carefully limned against it to demonstrate that the city was built and is still controlled by "Zionists."

    I pointed out in reply that there most likely was not a single street map in the world against which we couldn't outline the Star of David, the Cross of Christ, Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck.
     
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  10. Spookdaddy

    Spookdaddy Cuckoo

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    Yes - the modern urban equivalents of Katherine Maltwood's ridiculous Glastonbury Zodiac, I suppose. Perfect examples of the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy, written in stone.
     
  11. Stormkhan

    Stormkhan Justified & Ancient

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    I, too, was a regular at the Bow Bells in the 90's (we might've "bumped into each other" at some time) since a branch of our RPG club was held in the function room on Thursdays.
    Seeing the sudden "invasion" by the tourists was a real wonder to behold. The tour guides sold several books on London's grim past and ghosts ... including the Bow Bells spook, who allegedly did all the things as said above, and favoured pinching the bottoms of users. Apparently, it was a more frequent "visitor" to the Ladies loo!
     
  12. DiabolicalMasterspy

    DiabolicalMasterspy Fresh Blood

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    A few years ago, some friends and I took a winter-time night walk starting in the East and crossing the city, attempting to take in the spookiest places. It left me feeling that there was definitely something in this lark, even it was 'only' a way of inducing gnosis type states.

    Halfway along, crossing a small grassy square in the midst of tall, rather ancient looking apartments, we came across a climbing frame that had been customised into a kind of scarecrow. It had a very 'Baron Samedi' sort of appearance to it, cross beams had had gloves added, a hat rammed on top and so forth.

    About an hour later, in one of the labyrinthian passages behind Threadneedle Street, we turned a corner and a rat ran out in front of us. And refused to move. Sat on its haunches in the middle of our path, daring us to get nearer. We had to edge around it to get by. As soon as we'd left, it buggered off again. Not a Rat King, possibly a Rat Earl or Duke...
     
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  13. Yithian

    Yithian Incredulous Staff Member

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    May have posted this elsewhere, but back when Canary Wharf was freshly built, a friend of a friend who lived on the Isle of Dogs claimed that there were large masonic symbols built into the foundations. IIRC it was specifically in One Canada Square. Evidence when demanded? There was none - except the claim that his mate Ali had worked on the construction team.

    To which I can add these links:
    http://www.squaremile.com/features/7570 ... -City.html
    http://www.forteantimes.com/features/ar ... mbols.html
     
  14. colinbaker32

    colinbaker32 Devoted Cultist

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  15. Spookdaddy

    Spookdaddy Cuckoo

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    It's not outside the realms of possibility as there are, or have been, Voodoo/Vodou practitioners in the East End of London - I'm pretty sure there used to be an actual bona fide hougan advertising their services in Hackney.

    Coincidentally, given the previous discussion re the Bow Bells, somewhere in the same vicinity (I think it's on one of the roads leading south off Bow Road, at the Bow Interchange end) is a house my mate used to call the Voodoo House. My recall of it is hazy, as we always passed it at some god-forsaken hour in the early morning when I was half asleep in the passenger seat of his car. IIRC it was a largish terraced house and I've got a feeling it was painted black and had symbols painted on the doors and windows. Whether it was actually associated with Voodoo, or just a local nickname, I don't know.
     
  16. balding13

    balding13 Devoted Cultist

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    I also lived in various parts of London, finishing up in E17. This link told me things I didn't know about the church there.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upper_Clapton

    What it doesn't say is that it was derelict for decades and according to a friend, who grew up in the area in the forties, known as being a sinister haunt of Aleister Crowley. I visited it a few years ago and was bemused by the animal imagery outside it and the fact that they were advertising spiritual services for animals!
     
  17. James_H

    James_H And I like to roam the land

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  18. Mythopoeika

    Mythopoeika I am a meat popsicle

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    Looks like a big black bin bag being blown along.
     
  19. titch

    titch Justified & Ancient

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    Certainly doesn't look much like an animal to me.
     
  20. Cochise

    Cochise Justified & Ancient

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    It may have learned to _look_ like a black bin liner being blown along? Would save it being hunted to extinction :)
     
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  21. James_H

    James_H And I like to roam the land

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    Front page of the Hackney Gazette last week! I even bought a copy. It looks like a dog to me?
     
  22. ramonmercado

    ramonmercado CyberPunk

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    Ah, remember Black Bag from Viz?
     
  23. Cherrybomb

    Cherrybomb Justified & Ancient

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    I've really enjoyed this thread, it's helped my working day pass much quicker ;)

    Spookdaddy, there is a famous house known as the voodoo house or the painted house: http://www.flickr.com/photos/skitster/1413719507/

    However, I remember seeing a small terraced house down East Ham way, with all the windows painted with black and white "symbols". My friends claimed that it was a voodoo house and not to look at it. I just thought it was a squat or maybe a drug den. I wish I'd taken more interest in it, but my mates at the time took the whole voodoo thing very seriously. One of my best mates' parents wouldn't let her date a family friend of their's because "he did voodoo" (She was 24 at the time :roll: ) I'm not sure if it was just an over zealous baptist family not wanting to let go of their daughter, or something more Fortean!

    As for the psychogeography, it really is a fascinating subject. More please!! :p
     
  24. Spookdaddy

    Spookdaddy Cuckoo

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    Funnily enough, I know that place - an ex lives nearby - but it's not the one I was thinking of, which is East rather than South.

    This description has more in common with the place, although it wasn't a particularly small house (if my memory is correct).

    I've just had a quick saunter around the old manor via the miracle of Google Street View and I'm now pretty sure that the house I was thinking of is one of those which is in the process of being gentrified (or was when the images were recorded) on the east side of Campbell Road (which joins the south side of Bow road, just before Bow Church station).
     
  25. James_H

    James_H And I like to roam the land

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  26. Spookdaddy

    Spookdaddy Cuckoo

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    Regarding my undramatic one-word haunting on page 1.

    Last week I was chatting to the guy who owned the business. The workshop was in a complex of old industrial units hard by the main Olympic site and although not part of that development he chose not to extend his lease and moved out. For a while another business took over the space for storage. Turns out that the owner of that business had a hard time getting his people to work in it - people would only go in pairs, and a couple of guys point-blank refused to go in there at all. (These were migrant workers - many I suspect, illegal - and not known for boat-rocking, so such a refusal is maybe even more notable.)

    Anyway, he didn't get much detail beyond the fact that people thought they heard voices coming from inside, which stopped as soon as they put the key in the door.
     
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  27. prof_moriarty

    prof_moriarty Fresh Blood

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    Here is a short film about the beast of Hackney marsh, my friend Max was director of photography.



    Haven't seen it for a year or two, its bloody brilliant!
     
  28. Mungoman

    Mungoman Mostly harmless...

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    The idea of spirits, land locked, forced to stay on this plane does not surprise me. I've spent a bit of time walking around this big land of Australia, doing a bit of this, and a bit of that, and have come across my fair share of paleolithic tools. Knowing also some of the myths that the Old People have of mankind being changed into guardians or spirits, who were then forced to haunt or frequent particular places due to transgression or wrongdoing - the idea of spooky places does not come as a surprise - as I've typed before, I've come across these areas where I couldn't wait to get out of there.

    In 2013 I brought my Daughters to Britain and Europe to celebrate my 60th - something to do with Saturn return - and while picking up the hire car at Victoria Station I had a need for a durrie. Across the road was Ebury Square Garden - perfect, I said to myself- so off I went.


    I have an interest in Archaeology and Geology, among other things, and promised myself to look out for roman pot sherds, as well as some flint to do some knapping while I was touring through Britain and France.

    I prospect for gold (yep, another interest), and always look at the base of trees - the reason being that trees, as they grow, push up material, like rocks from deeper underground, which gives me an idea into older watercourses, which are then deposited around the base of the tree.

    I'd just rolled my durrie, lit up, and started to look around those fine trees that you have in Ebury Square, when I noticed small pieces of flint (about the size of your fingernail) around the bases of the trees.

    I started to pick up the flints, when one struck my eye in particular. It was squarish, which is a bit out of the ordinary for pebbles and rock, so I had a closer look


    I'd found a worn down, paleolithic microtool, otherwise known as a burin, that last was handled by a man or woman who lived in the times when Britain was connected to Europe.


    The history of Britain, with its Jutes, Franks and Beaker-people, along with its Picts and other Brythonic people appeals to me - a true and tried history along with its prehistory delights me, but the idea, recognition and evidence of paleolithic man residing in Britain, in my hand, right where I was standing gave me more than a frisson of delight can I say, and led me to park myself on the benches of Ebury Square, and to 'fritter away an hour in an offhand way', chasing down kaleidoscopic labyrinths and corridors of my imagination to a warm woodland of Aurochs, boars and other mega-fauna that once inhabited these Fair Isles.

    We have old myths of Cern the hunter, Weland the smith - even Beowulf and the Wendel (Neanderthal Woman?) that inhabit our folklore and lands, so why not more contemporary spirits inhabiting our mundane world?



    IMG_8548_edited-2.jpg

    The Old worn-down Burin, it's well worn point, to the right.
     
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  29. Naughty_Felid

    Naughty_Felid No longer interesting

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    Those Beaker people are Moooksta's ancestors apparently.

    I think we do have contemporary spirits. Phantom hitchhikers spring to mind.
     
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  30. Ibis

    Ibis Life is like a box of paints.

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    Aha! More proof of parallel universes! What in one is a large mammal, becomes in the other an intoxicating beverage . . . perhaps this means that Berenstain was really Bear-in-stein . . .

    Sorry. Though quoting from this thread, my post appears to be completely off topic, and it's not even that late here -- and I swear I haven't been drinking.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017
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