Seeking Nairn’s London


There’s a strong possibility that Nairn’s London will be back in print later this year. So David McKie and I, as co-authors of Ian Nairn: Words in Place have divided up London and its extremities (from Uxbridge to Dagenham was his ambition) and are looking around to see which of the almost fifty-year-old entries needs an indication of current condition – or its loss. To start at the end, Dagenham church, for example, is still there, but even more isolated than it was in Nairn’s day, stranded in Ford Motors’ company town, now gone belly-up. The churchyard is a nature reserve, the building is, viewed from the outside at least, in good condition, but the surroundings are dire. But without Nairn, I would never have found it. Equally, round the back of Fenchurch Street station, in the City, is French Ordinary Court. When Nairn was tramping around, the alley was threatened by development; now that development itself is elderly, but the entrance off Crutched Friars is there, as atmospheric and promising as its name (though it does not, on closer examination, deliver much beyond the street approach). Watch this space – I plan to fill the dank days of early 2014 with more dispatches from the Nairn’s London front and, very soon, hope to reveal when and by whom it is to be re-published.


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