One of the benefits of the Olympics has been a series of fascinating programmes about London. One of the best has been the BBC2 series ‘The Secret History of our Streets‘ which has taken a road somewhere in London and shown how it has changed over the years.
The series takes as its start Charles Booth’s Poverty Maps showing the income and social status of roads in London, and then goes through the years showing how the roads have changed. Some have stayed as working class areas, whereas moved either upmarket or downmarket. It doesn’t matter whether you know the roads or not – so far only Caledonian Road has been familiar to me and even there it’s only the bottom end of it that I know – but it remains fascinating and you can probably build similar stories in cities across the country. This isn’t just some dry social history, although personally I love social history, as it not only describes the history of the street but also talks to its residents current and past. If you haven’t watched this series I really recommend that you do whilst it’s still available on iPlayer.
Whilst I’m recommending programmes, another great one has been ‘The Bridges that Built London‘ with Dan Cruickshank. Dan Cruickshank has always been one of my favourite TV presenters as he makes history come to life in a way that I’ve always found fascinating. I first discovered Dan Cruickshank when he was on the series ‘One Foot in the Past‘ back in the 1990s which I really miss and which has never really been replaced. Since then he has been a constant feature on TV and I don’t think he has ever done a programme or series that hasn’t been worth watching.