About

Welcome, thank you for visiting!

Running Past is a South East London local history blog – there are occasional posts on running, but in the main, the ‘running’ element is the means of transporting me to the places mentioned in posts.  I am an adopted Londoner, growing up in a former mining town, but I have lived in what used to be the grounds of Lee Place (below) for around 25 years.

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Running is a good means of exploring the city, it enables me to be a slightly faster flâneur (Baudelaire’s stroller and observer of the city streets) – I still notice the things I would see walking, but I cover a bit more distance. My historical interest comes with a geographical overlay – I am fascinated by landscapes, particularly the features that have been lost or hidden by the growth of the city.

I write about a variety of things, although there are several clear strands:

  • The local history of the area I live in – the Lee/Hither Green borders, particularly
    • the large country houses and their links to slavery;
    • the farms that pre-dated urbanisation;
    • the pubs, cinemas and churches where people came together
  • Elements of the urban landscape that have been ‘lost’ – particularly churches, which, as an atheist, is maybe slightly strange;
  • Early athletics – particularly the ‘pedestrians’ who walked prodigious distances in the early 19th century and their professional running counterparts from the middle of the same century;
  • Some of the radicals who made south east London their home – such as the anarchist and geographer, Peter Kropotkin, who lived in Bromley; and
  • The River Quaggy – I am following the river and its (often buried and diverted) tributaries – I plan to finish this in 2017 and will then ‘move on’ to the Ravensbourne.

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You will find a few posts about running, particularly races I compete in, although over the last year or so I have tended to Tweet rather than blog about them – this wasn’t really a deliberate choice but probably relates to my times getting slower – a combination of the aging and the recovery process from having my neck broken in early 2015 by a Fiat Punto whose driver failed to understand the significance of a red traffic light next to a pedestrian crossing.

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I hope you find what you are looking for, sorry if you didn’t – I can sometimes tell from the WordPress statistics package that there have been disappointments – doing a Google search looking for ‘Haunted Catford’ and then clicking on a link for a Catford ghost sign was never going to end well.

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Do interact!  If you think that I have got something wrong or your own local knowledge is better than mine so that a post can be improved, please do tell me, I like feedback!  Comments are easy to make, you only have to register once (you can use your Facebook, Twitter or Google login), the first comment will be moderated so make take a while to appear.

If you like what you have found, why not sign up so that you don’t miss future posts?  There are ‘buttons’ either at the bottom or side (depending on your viewing platform) to follow via

  • Facebook
  • WordPress Reader, do don’t need to write your own blog to have this;
  • E Mail
  • Twitter – this will ‘entitle’ you to a range of other 140 character ramblings and retweets as well as links to new blog posts, although unless you end up interacting a lot with me, you may miss things as a result of the changes that Twitter made to timelines in Spring 2016.

If you think that your friends, family, colleagues or people that you once vaguely knew and haven’t got the heart to unfriend on Facebook as you can tell that they aren’t in a good place right now might be interested in any of the posts you have read, please do feel free to share by your preferred social media platform.  There are sharing ‘buttons’ at the bottom of each post – you might have to click on the post title for them to appear.

Thanks for visiting!

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15 thoughts on “About

  1. Jim Brennan

    Very cool that you write about things you see while on the run. I wrote a blog post a couple summers ago about the best way to get to know a city and it’s people is by walking, running or cycling. I’m into it.

    Reply
    1. runner500 Post author

      It is a brilliant way to get to know the City and you can see things, and get to places that you would miss if travelling by car. Thanks for dropping by.

      Reply
  2. Girl Runs Wild

    What a cool idea for a blog! I love exploring the places I visit on foot (preferably on the run!), and it’s great to combine the exercise with the history of the world around us. I’m lucky to live in rural Scotland, so the majority of my runs take me off road and through the most wonderful scenery, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate a city run! Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

    Reply
    1. runner500 Post author

      South East London has so much history and the best way to see it is on foot, running makes it a bit quicker, but I am also ‘using’ the blog to better understand how the area developed. Thanks for visiting!

      Reply
  3. simoniancook

    This is a great great blog. I am a geographer who researches running and have long argued that running I’d a great way to explore the world, that runners build up an incredible bank of place knowledge through running, and that running can be productive beyond the exercise bit of it. You bring that all together in your blog and I love it. Keep up the good stuff!

    Reply
    1. runner500 Post author

      Thanks – running is a perfect way to explore the urban environment, it is slow enough to enable you to see things but fast enough to cover reasonable distances. It is probably the geographer and researcher in me too – historical geography and rivers always fascinated me. It isn’t perfect though – you do miss things, I have been injured for a couple of months following a non running related accident and have been walking a lot and noticed some C18 graffiti in an alley I have run down well over a hundred times before and failed to spot. https://runner500.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/graffiti-ancient-and-modern/

      Reply
  4. marymills

    Thanks for the nice comments on Greenwich Peninsula History. – er – we are always looking for speakers for Greenwich Industrial History meetings, and I did wonder if historical running and blackheath or whatever might be a useful topic

    Reply
    1. runner500 Post author

      You are more than welcome in relation to the comments on the Greenwich Peninsula History site, https://greenwichpeninsulahistory.wordpress.com/, it is a site I really like and helps make sense of the history of a fascinating area, it is so important that it is recorded. I would be more than happy to speak on running/pedestrianism on Blackheath at a GIH meeting – I’m guessing it wouldn’t be for a while, let me know if/when you have a date in mind. Hopefully I will have done a bit more by that stage as I have a couple of pieces on the backburner – on some races on Shooters Hill Road, starting at the Earl of Moira (later the Brook) and one on a Blackheath runner called William Gazeley.

      Reply
  5. Sophie Austin

    Dear Runner500,

    I love your blog and wondered if you might be interested in sharing some of your Hither Green findings with Teatro Vivo. We are a local theatre company and will be staging a new play in a house in Hither Green on Manor Lane this November.

    As part of the show we are creating a soundtrack that captures local voices revealing some local history and stories.

    I was wondering if you might be interested in allowing us to record some of your stories about the area that we can weave into a local soundtrack?

    We are looking for people to join us for a glass of wine next Thursday (3rd November) ( in Hither Green where we will explain a bit more about the project.

    Do let me know if this might be of interest.
    Many thanks
    Sophie
    Teatro Vivo

    Reply
    1. Paul B Post author

      Hi Sophie
      Thank you for your kind words.

      You are more than welcome to use material from the blog, it is in the public domain – obviously with proper credits.

      I am not sure whether I will be around next Thursday, but if you send me a DM via Twitter (I will follow) with details I will come if I am free.

      Many thanks

      Paul

      Reply
  6. vwalker23

    Hi there! I grew up on Brandram Road and have lots of thoughts about your wonderfully detailed posts. I am hoping you can help with researching the history of Decca Selecta, which was behind the big gates at 125-127 Lee High Road. Transpontine mentioned it briefly: http://transpont.blogspot.com/2015/02/selectadecca-depot-in-lewisham-1974.html

    My mother worked at the Selecta warehouse in the early 1980s but I’ve found out almost nothing about the building or the business or why it was there. One for you to run past, perhaps?

    Reply
    1. Paul B Post author

      Thank you. I was aware of it from Transpontine’s post and it on my list of things to cover eventually. It may need to to wait until I have a bit more time to sift through newspapers and other things that may not be on line.

      Reply
  7. Lee Manor Society

    It probably hasn’t escaped you to know that there is a move to set up Lee Forum under the Localities legislation. I’ve offered to contribute to the historical appraisal and, with full credit to yourself, there are many useful and informative pieces that you have already covered – we’d like to refer to them. Might you also be interested to look at any draft materials we put together? Thank you, Ralph White, Chairman – Lee Manor Society news@leemanorsociety.org

    Reply

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