The London Ambler.

Last weekend the London Ambler led a tour, ‘Rookeries, Railways and Radicals’, following the route of the River Fleet from Kings Cross to Smithfield. The River Fleet is now a totally underground river in central London, flowing from Highgate to the Thames, and has traced the history of radical London. Walking the Fleet Valley led us past some of London’s most interesting housing and amenity projects, including the Clerkenwell Estate, built by the Peabody Trust, one of London’s earliest housing associations, during the Victorian era. The Peabody Trust was set up to help alleviate the terrible living conditions of the poor and needy in London.

The tour also led us past more recent social / socialist housing and amenity schemes including Bevin Court and the Finsbury Health Centre, both designed by Berthold Lubetkin. Bevin Court is a modernist housing project constructed following the war, and occupies the site of a previous home of Lenin. A bronze bust of Lenin lies buried in its foundations. The walk led us under hidden viaducts, and past railways and monuments, finishing at Smithfield market, London’s only remaining wholesale market in continuous operation since medieval times. The first permanent market buildings were constructed there during the second half of the 19th century, designed by Sir Horace Jones. The remaining Victorian buildings are still in use today, accommodating the red meat market. The poultry market is housed in a 1960s building designed by T P Bennett and Son, which replaced part of the Victorian market building, which was destroyed in the fire of 1958. It is claimed that the roof is the largest concrete dome structure ever built. The London Ambler is an architectural historian who runs a variety of unexpected and alternative walks around London, well worth checking out.