SALON NO.99: London Romanies
On the Road

7.00pm Thursday 26th January 2023

The Horse Hospital

Admission: Tickets £8.00/ £10.00 in advance only HERE

Gypsies, tinkers, travellers. Join historians Anna Hoare and Geoff Simmons to hear the hidden history of one of the city’s most fascinating and forgotten communities.

A glimpse of trailer roofs from a train or motor way is the closest most of us come to a Traveller site. But the separation of these sites from towns and cities was not always the case. As London rapidly expanded through the nineteenth century, successive generations of Romany Gypsy and Irish Traveller families owned yards, houses and businesses across the city and engaged in a wide range of trades and professions. Anthropologist Dr Anna Hoare, author of the 'Mapping the Histories of London’s Travellers’ project, shows how the perspectives, voices and experiences of Gypsies and Travellers form a fascinating part of the capital’s cultural history.

Researcher and guide Geoff Simmons will describe the origins and history of one of London’s most important sites for generations of Romany Gypsies - Wardley Street in Wandsworth. Home to the traveller community from the 19th century, by the mid-twentieth century, the street had become famous as the home of London costermongers, and is an example of how Romany Gypsies were involved in trades from brick-making to market gardening. The area is still home to two permanent Travellers sites.
Geoff tells of how his work with Anna and  the ‘London, Gypsies & Travellers’ organisation seeks to keep alive the rich history of the area's gypsy cultural legacy.

Dr Anna Hoare is an anthropologist specialising in architecture, who explores the role of architecture in relations between Travellers and the state in the UK and Ireland.
The 'Mapping the Histories of London’s Travellers’ project exhibition has been shown  across London, using maps and linked recordings to explore themes such as the geography of movement through the capital, the impacts of post-war legislation, property and dwelling.  She is working on a book:  ‘View from the Traveller site: Architecture that Begins where the House Ends.’

Geoff Simmons runs the community history project Summerstown 182 in south west London  providing guided walks and talks and raising awareness of the area. Most recently the plaque 'The People of Wardley Street' acknowledged Wandsworth's rich Romany Gypsy and Traveller heritage  - an initiative that  be documented through an oral history project in collaboration with Anna Hoare.

Top image: Mills’ Yard, Battersea, 1964 Mills family/ Graham Downie, National Fairgrounds Archive.
Lower Images: The Leader magazine 1940

Our new home, THE HORSE HOSPITAL, is a unique Grade II listed not for profit, independent arts venue within the only existing unspoilt example of a two-floor, purpose-built stable with public access in London. 
Built in 1797 by James Burton. the shell is constructed with London Stocks whilst the interior features a mock cobbled re-inforced concrete floor and ramps with slats to prevent the horses from slipping. Each floor has 5 cast iron pillars and several original iron tethering rings.