Sarah Wise – The Blackest streets – of London

I am quite excited. I have a new book by Sarah Wise to read. I have not even read anything about it, even though I do have this new book in my hand.

I have read a previous book by her,  the Italian Boy. I will tell you more about this in a minute. I have also read a second book, Lunacy, Liberty, Mad Doctors  … which I did not even realise was by her! Call me simple, I have this book on my desk, and only just realised my complete ignorance, what a wally I am!

Back to the Italian Boy, this book I have read twice. I was first introduced to it by a young doctor who wrote about the Anatomy Act of 1832  as part of their degree course. My interest was the numbers of old London pubs visited during the story telling, and I love a story about Old London, as I said, I like to keep things simple.

I am very excited to read her (Sarah wise) new book on my holidays shortly. I will post some feedback at a later stage. I can already predict it being absolutely brilliant.



London street directory 1919 or thereabouts

There is a new site which is building, along with many other sites. It is simple, it is a street directory of London from the 1921 directory, which is always a year out of date, so about 1920; and next year is 2019.

So, a site is growing, which is which lists street detail for the last hundred years, and should be ready by 2019. That is the background detail.

This new site will initially list street directories, and links to pubs and previous pubs in that timeline or earlier. Then it will move on to list details of street name changes over that time period. Well, that is the current plan.

Excited? Every time I research any of this form of data, it is nearly always on a purchaseable ebook. This is all very well, as people have spent their own time creating this data, but it is NOT in the public domain. There are also many freely available ebooks which are sold by people, I should do this too, but I cannot  be bothered.

I am aware that everything I post is stolen by others, hey ho, it’s the internet age.

BUT, I am certain that this site will make a difference, eventually, somewhere. And one of the people I have helped out will come back and click on some of my advertising links. You can only live in hope.



The problems with a London history & pub history search engine

I run a few sites, including a major pub history site and others.  These all have a search the PUB … entry at the top of the page. Simple, but true.

My colleague John often complains that these search pages are riddled with advertising, and also that he can never find what he is looking for, even if he know what he is searching for! John is one of my major contributors for the site, and has many pages and images attributed o him.

Simple answer. The search engine is powered by google, and covers multiple sites which I choose, and is pretty amazing in this fact. BUT, it is a simple search, which first looks at the latest pages added to the site/s. So, for example, if I added a whole host of pages for the entire London 1843 directory, some hundreds of pages, this would overload the new search engine as the latest pages added to the site/s – which it does.

The fact is any  and all older pages are virtually ignored by the search, this is rubbish.

The point I am attempting to get to is that one page on a blog, written well, can equate to 50,000 web pages, in the google search engine, and this is entirely wrong, and seriously warped. I think google needs to look at is search parameters carefully. In the meanime, I will be writing lots of blogs , methinks.


Pub history in London and the home counties

I am currently running a major fix on my web pages due to google mobile friendly campaign which has knocked me off my number one spot for pub history. well, I think this is the reason. I need to find each page with an image included in the code and alter the code a little. I know I could probably write a script to do this, but I do have the time, and it is also very useful to see what actually is on the site/s in regards to content. This site gives an overview on the fix.

I completed Middlesex first, then most of London, Today, I went through all of Sussex and Surrey and latterly Berkshire. WOW! Most of Berkshire was researched for me by Colin Ager, who I have not heard from for some years, and images supplied by others. When the updates used to come in, I struggled to keep up, and did a lot of these in my sleep, usually with a glass of wine on the go.

Well, after re-visiting these pages today, each and every one of them, I have to say I had no idea how brilliant much of it is. That’s it really, what I brilliant site, myself and a whole team of people who have helped me, supplied hundreds of hours of their research and work, and made this an amazing resource for the future.

Obviously, if you just look at random pages, it looks pretty boring; but as the pages continue to grow and blend, and the small facts on the page speak for themselves and intertwine with other pages / pubs the picture starts to emerge of a labrynth of pub history.

I am spending a lot more of my time on the London history of the site now, but as many of the home counties became part of London in 1965, this gives me lots more work to complete, or not, the site will never be complete, it’s just me really. And the crazy hours spent on making additions to the site, adding new pages, fixing the old, tidying the code, answering lots of questions, and occasionally getting a major new contributor to supply masses of old and new images etc etc. The site/s is/are getting there slowly, after about 15 years.

And my wife never complains an iota.

Whitechapel, Shoreditch & Bethnal green

Well, I just had to do it. A visit to London has been on the cards for ages. I now have all the time in the world to do this, just not the income at present. So, today, i carefully packed a bag with all essentials, like spare batteries for my camera, etc.

An hour after leaving home, I was in Whitechapel High road; and I spent the day wandering amongst the local communities, taking pictures of pubs, what looked like old pubs, and other interesting landmarks.

I was attempting to use just the off-peak travel, but after about four hours of wandering, I was starting to show signs of strain, i.e. I was completely knackered. I did walk 7.5 miles today, which is good, but compare this with the usual zero miles, you can understand why I was struggling a little.

But, what a brilliant day, and I took 68 photographs, many of which are already on the pub history site. I also have a new site staring soon, which has been purchased, but not yet running so far.

As an aside, I would like to use this blog to announce the amazing results of my youngest daughter. She studies at Lincoln, a new University, which has just scored an amazing 22nd place in the UK in the latest Guardian league tables – that is pretty damned impressive. It’s also not surprising, as she has just achieved a first in her Mathematics degree. Well done all of you, and thank you.

More tomorrow, including maybe some pictures.

London pub history versus London history

The title sounds a little perverse, but true. I have a major pub history site as you probably already know. It has many tens of thousands of pages. It was number one in google for ‘pub history’, Currently I have three sites vying for this position, all in the top ten or eleven, none at number 1.

I do mess about with the sites a lot, and this is one of my downfalls. I upset the google search engine because I messed up the coding for the site upgrade, hey ho. I am busy fixing this by visiting each of the relevant pages and applying a fix. Only another 30,000 pages to go!

But, I am also trying to build the site as a London history site rather than just pub history; this is where it gets a little harder, and maybe part of my current issues? I recently added all of the 1843 London directory, that’s a lot of pages of new data for the site. The local google search engine seems to like the latest additions rather than older pages, and this has affected search results locally, I think. Since this time I have added a hole host of other directory data, and I think I have proved myself correct in last in first out seems to be the norm in search results.

What does this all mean? Well, in regards to pub history, I think I have lost my top spot for a while. And to get a reasonable spot for London history is going to be hard, but again, I do spend rather a lot of time on this. I have a new site about to come online, i.e. which is my next big project – until I get bored and come back to the pub history again.

Enough for now, and Ethel Littlechild would be very proud of me! She’s my grandmother, and very lovely.




Brentwood or Whitechapel

As I am now retired, I check my pennies, seriously. I also need some exercise in a good walk or two.

So, tomorrow, I have several options of my own choice. A drive to Brentwood, in which I park somewhere in the vicinity for free, and take a walk. I know Brentwood fairly well, I have driven home through it coming home from Colchester on many occasions, when the A12 is blocked.

The alternative is a visit to London, not all of London, though. For £1.50 you can get a single journey in zones 2-6 when it is out of the busy periods, i.e. after 9.30 and NOT between 4 and 7, I think.

Maybe a wander up Whitechapel High street, or through Mile End. Tomorrow, you will know my choice. On tenterhooks to find out? I am looking forward to my final decision, too.

OK, I did neither of these today. Instead, I spent the day in North Muskham, a small village near to Newark, and in Nottinghamshire; with some quite spectacular results, I think. If you search for this stuff on the internet, there is not much detail.

This should make you laugh, I shat myself. I decided to try Brentwood, cleared my camera data giving me lots of space for lots of pictures. I did experience a few issues with my cheap camera, and after making myself aware of how to set date & time, plus resetting the camera when there were issues with battery problems, I set out for Brentwood.

First stop, Brook street, near to Brentwood & South Weald. I took my first new photograph, and the camera failed. I had forgotten to bring spare batteries. I drove around for a while after this, and particularly through Brentwood. I was not impressed, lots of charity shops & betting shops as befits a failing High street, and pubs. If TOWIE is so big about this town, it does not show itself in their High street. There was certainly nowhere for people to park, except in expensive car parking. NOT impressed.

Off to Whitechapel in the next few days. I am more interested in London, anyway