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London History Extended CPD – 6 dates from 10th January 2019

10th January 2019


The Course will run over the following dates 10th and 17th January, 15th February, 8th, 15th, and 22nd March 2019

Guiding London history is what we do – we use the history of London all the time to explain the neighbourhoods and sites we guide, the architecture we showcase and to explain why London looks and works the way it does today. As guides we have to break down history into manageable chunks for our clients but we also need to have an overall narrative or narratives of London history.

This course, running for a second year, aims to explore some of those narratives. Using a thematic approach, the course will look at London’s past through six key themes. Aimed at working guides, this course is intended to provide an overview of London history to guides who want to refresh and deepen the knowledge they use every day.

The course aims to give confidence to guides discussing London’s history, and answering clients’ questions on topics such as, why are house prices in the city so high? Or what impact has immigration had on shaping London?

The course will provide:

  • a chance to refresh and develop your knowledge of London’s history
  • an understanding of some key topics and events which have influenced the way London looks and works today.
  • a few more stories and anecdotes with which to entertain your clients
  • guided walks and museum tours of some of the sights of London which you never get to explore in depth on the BBG course
  • Aide memoires of key information and further reading for each session

Course Outline:

Day One: Urban Development

The morning lecture will trace the 2000 years of urban development which has taken London from 1 square mile to 600 square miles, from the compact grid-plan of Londinium to the 20th century urban sprawl and Green Belt that we know today.

The walking tour will explore Smithfield, looking at the impact of the monasteries on London’s development, and Clerkenwell, focusing on council housing from the end of the 19th century through to debates about the future of social housing today.

Day Two: Trade and Industry

The morning lecture will look at how trade and industry transformed London from a port on the edge of the Roman Empire to one of the greatest industrial cities of the 19th century, exploring the impact of the 16th and 17th century trading companies, London’s role in the slave trade, and its ongoing position as a centre of world finance.

The afternoon will consist of visits to the Museum of London Docklands, to explore the London, Sugar and Slavery gallery, and to the Traders’ Gallery of the National Maritime Museum, where we’ll discover how a London-based company became the world’s first multinational, running India and provoking war with China.

Day Three: Social and Political Upheavals

The morning lecture will take a bloodthirsty look at the big, brutal events that have shaped London, from the Great Plague to the murder and mayhem of the Reformation and the 300 years of rabid anti-Catholicism that followed.

The afternoon walks will explore two of the toughest periods in London’s history: the grisly executions that took place in and around Smithfield during the religious upheavals of the Reformation, and the physical destruction and human cost of the Blitz, which shaped the way the City looks today.

Day Four: Diversity

London’s history is a history of immigration – the morning lecture will explore immigration from the arrival of the cosmopolitan Roman Army to the impact of the Windrush generation in the second half of the 20th century and beyond.

The afternoon’s walking tours will focus on Spitalfields and Brick Lane where we will trace the impact of immigration in the area, from the arrival of the original refugees, the Huguenot silk weavers, in the late 17th century, to the Jewish immigrants escaping the late 19th century pogroms in Russia. In Whitechapel, we’ll concentrate on some of the key 20th century events in the history of the East End, from the Battle of Cable Street to the rise of the National Front in the 1970s.

Day Five: Transport and Infrastructure

The morning lecture will look at the importance of the River Thames as the chief corridor of transport in London until well into the 19th century. We’ll also cover some of BBGs’ favourite topics, from Lost Rivers and Coaching Inns to Growlers and Gas Lamps.

The afternoon will begin with a short walking tour of Farringdon, exploring the impact of transport on the development of London from the world’s oldest underground to the new Crossrail Line. This will be followed by a guided visit to the Postal Museum to discover one of London’s newest museums and the history behind the iconic red pillar and phone boxes.

Day Six: Public Services and Charity

The Romans provided public services many Londoners wouldn’t see again for the next 1,500 years. The morning lecture will examine how population growth in the 19th century eventually forced the development of many of the public hospitals and schools we have today. We’ll also reveal exactly what it is the London Boroughs and the GLA do for us today.

The afternoon will be spent in the Museum of London, looking in depth at objects in the collection which highlight the themes covered in the six lectures – everything from the skull of a giant auroch that once roamed London, to the key finds from the Temple of Mithras, and from the oldest surviving map of London to a bucket used in the Great Fire. Then we will retire to the pub for further research.

Format of the Day

10:00-12:30        Lecture at the British Guild of Tourist Guides (with a tea break)

12:30-14:00        Lunch

14:00-16:30        Site visits (with tea break)

Course Tutors

Rob Humphreys and Ruth Polling qualified as London Blue Badge Guides in 2014 and have been delivering the London history lectures for the Blue Badge Course for the last four years. Ruth studied History at LSE and Rob studied Social & Political Sciences at Cambridge. Before becoming a guide, Ruth worked in London politics for eleven years including four years as a local councillor in Islington, giving her a strong interest and knowledge of public services, housing and London’s urban development. Rob worked for Rough Guides for more than twenty years, writing numerous books including the Rough Guide to London. When not guiding, Rob runs the Puppet Theatre Barge, a traditional marionette theatre on a converted Thames lighter, moored in Richmond during the summer and at Little Venice the rest of the year.

Practical Information

Duration The course will run for 6 days

Reasonable changes due to gallery availability may be made during the course.

Places available 32 (Please note if we have fewer than 26 participants the course may not go ahead and you will be advised of this nearer the date.)

Cost £305



10th January 2019
Event Category:


Guild House
52d Borough High St
London, SE1 1XN United Kingdom
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27 available
London History Extended CPD£305.00London History Extended CPD Guild House 10th and 17th January, 15th February, 8th, 15th, and 22nd March 2019 £320

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