Childhood days in Embankment Gardens
This is my sister, Kate, eating ice cream (or is it yoghurt?) on a September day in 1982. This was a few years before I was born, but it’s evocative of my own childhood memories of the Strand.
We grew up in Kent, but our parents’ roots are further North, so we would often pass through London on the train on the way to visit family. In those days, there were no Javelin trains so heading North meant a long haul – into Charing Cross, across London, then onwards. We got to know the streets around the Strand when we walked up to Euston, and on the return leg, we would often stop in Embankment Gardens before getting the train home.
Our stops in Embankment Gardens were the last precious minutes of being on holiday. For Mum, this was when she could breathe a sign of relief that Dad hadn’t got us completely lost, despite winding her up by taking a slightly different combination of back streets each time.
I remember a great sausage shop in Villiers Street, selling all sorts of interesting sausages – I remember being particularly taken with the ones in the shape of a swirl (or Catherine Wheel or snail).
Many years later, I ended up taking an MA at King’s, walking through Embankment Gardens on my way into the College, and wrote my dissertation on one of the Strand’s former residents – the poet and painter William Blake (1757-1827 – he lived at Fountain Court, roughly where the Cole Hole Tavern is today). When Kate came to visit, she introduced me to another Villiers Street gem – Gordon’s Wine Bar!
The Strandlines editors got to know each other either through working together on events for the first iteration of Strandines, or through related research interests. The group includes expertise in medieval, digital and eighteenth-century matters; in hair work and memorial culture, authors’ rights and churchyards; in drones and undergrounds; in soundscapes and life writing. We share different forms of fascination with London, and can occasionally be found discovering more common interests in one of the Strand’s pubs.