Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019 announce Waltham Forest Tours

13 May 2019
Waltham Forest Town Hall
  • Year-long season of unique guided experiences designed to encourage residents and visitors to explore Waltham Forest through new eyes
  • Events include walking tours with psychogeographer John Rogers, culinary tours in each of the borough’s distinct neighbourhoods and an immersive meditative audio tour 
  • Also announced today are tours of the former EMD Cinema in Walthamstow

To celebrate Waltham Forest’s year as the Mayor’s first London Borough of Culture, tickets go on sale today for a new season of tours designed to help people experience the borough in unique and extraordinary ways. Curated by William Galinsky, Waltham Forest Tours will offer everything from culinary tours that take people into resident’s kitchens across the distinct neighbourhoods of Waltham Forest to meditative audio tours to open your eyes to the limitless experiences a bus ride can offer.

Described as “a travel agency with a difference to discover the extraordinary hidden beneath the seen”, Waltham Forest Tours features a line-up of renowned tour guides, artists and filmmakers to help audiences discover the many extraordinary stories and histories across Waltham Forest, and experience a different side to the borough. 

Opening the season, Leytonstone’s psychogeographer-in-residence John Rogers will host a series of walking tours from 9 June. The author of This Other London – Adventures in an Overlooked City and frequent collaborator of Russell Brand will guide intrepid walkers to the unexpected as he tours the borough’s topography, culture and overlooked heritage. Each walk will be recorded in a film and accompanied by a hand-printed map by Waltham Forest printer Russell Frost.

At the end of June, Walthamstow-born tour guide Abdul Maalik Tailor will lead the first in a series of Culinary Walking Tours of Waltham Forest's diverse communities. Lasting from brunch until dinner, participants will travel from cafes and bakeries to people's homes to introduce participant’s taste buds to every sensation the borough’s vibrant food culture has to offer. Starting in Leytonstone on 29 June, over the following months people will be able to book tours in Walthamstow, Leyton and Chingford.

The cuisine theme continues with world-famous culinary artists Domestic Godless, who present their own guide to keeping standards high in the kitchen when everything else is descending into chaos. What do you do when the supermarket shelves are empty and your only larder is the local swamp? How does a little selective breeding turn an invasive pest into the next gastronomic delicacy? These questions and more may be answered at Café Abyss, taking place at Gnome House, Blackhorse Road in July. This eating experience has already travelled the world – taking Domestic Godless to dilapidated luxury hotels and a garbage-skip at the gates of City Hall in Belfast, with Waltham Forest its latest stop.

As part of Waltham Forest Tours, performance-maker Rhiannon Armstrong will spend two weeks this summer riding a local Walthamstow bus and collecting stories from the people she meets. The results will be a meditative audio tour available to download from GeoTourist free from September. Entitled The Soothing Presence of Strangers, the download, created in association with Transport for London and GeoTourist, will sync automatically to the user’s location.  

Concluding the season is Do Not Worry: a celebration of Walthamstow's little known history as the Hollywood of the silent movie era, created by renowned Poland-based artists Janek Turkowski and Iwona Nowacka. From 1910 to 1926, Walthamstow was home to a number of major film studios. The frequent collaborators will spend the summer recreating a film made in one of these studios, Wood Street’s Precision Studios, Anarchy in Britain, which was shot on location in Leyton, Walthamstow and Chingford. The creators will be recruiting hundreds of extras to be part of the silent movie remake, which will be shown in a series of screenings in December.

Speaking about the season, William Galinsky, curator of Waltham Forest Tours, said: “I’m so excited to announce Waltham Forest Tours; a journey across our home borough through the eyes of artists, writers, tour guides and the people who live here. We want to show a different side to life in the borough to visitors and residents alike in Waltham Forest’s year as the London Borough of Culture. From stories based in the marshes, reservoirs and forests that surround us to discovering the borough’s hidden filmmaking past through the eyes of two visitors to the borough, Waltham Forest Tours will surprise and delight, tell new stories and bring about some surprising and strange encounters...”

Cllr Clare Coghill, Leader of Waltham Forest Council, said: “Waltham Forest Tours is an opportunity for residents and visitors to discover the incredible stories our borough has to offer as part of the Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019 programme. These unique tours and events shine a light on the wonderful, surprising and truly inspirational heritage – past and present – that shape the identity of Waltham Forest.”

William Galinsky is an artist and curator. He was Artistic Director of Norfolk & Norwich Festival for seven editions where his commissions included Robert Wilson’s epic landscape project Walking for London 2012, Wildlife FM with Campo and Wildwork’s epic work Wolf’s Child with the National Trust at Felbrigg Hall. His latest adventure is GalinskyWorks which explores art, technology and civil society.

Waltham Forest Tours is the latest season of work to be announced as part of Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019’s year-long programme and adds to a series of events that encourage residents to explore their borough through new eyes. Now in its fifth month, highlights to come include Inua Ellams R.A.P Party (24 May), an evening of 20 poets and four DJ’s across four venues all on Walthamstow’s famous Ravenswood Estate, Art Night on 22 June and Leytonstone Loves Film (27-29 September).

Also announced today are a series of tours for residents to explore the former EMD Cinema on Hoe Street in Walthamstow. On Tuesday 21 May 2019, there will be a unique opportunity to go behind-the-scenes and see inside this historic building in a series of tours led by Soho Theatre and Waltham Forest Council. Visitors will be able to experience the art deco cine-variety hall first opened in 1930 ahead of three years of remodelling and renovation that will take place as part of the legacy of Waltham Forest’s year as London Borough of Culture. Waltham Forest Council announced it would be purchasing the site earlier this year. The tours can be booked online now.