Caught by the River

Video Strolls Film of the Month: Abandoned Farm at Twyford Abbey

20th January 2017

Video Strolls choose a film per month to showcase on Caught by the River. Liberty Rowley introduces this month’s selection:

Starting out, rather unpromisingly, by the A406 in the rain, to find a monastery written about in a book published in 1927, John Rogers follows Nick Papadimitriou – who, as usual, seems more concerned about the route of the mains water pipe – until, quite suddenly, we follow them through a hole in a fence and we are in the dairy of the monastery. Lush and green, but ruined and overgrown. In voiceover, along with haunting piano music, Heidi Lapaine reads extracts from Gordon S. Maxwell’s Just Beyond London, describing the amazement and shock of finding this rural idyll so close to London. 90 years later, we are now well within London, but the shock is the same. No longer are there hard-working Monks tending the land and their dairy cows. Instead, there’s a ruin, full of plants and birds and awaiting redevelopment.

John says of the film, made specially for us to show at the Birmingham Flatpack Film Festival:

“It’s 12 years since the first walk I did with Nick Papadimitriou and Peter Knapp, which ended around the back of an old industrial building somewhere just beyond Stonebridge Park. We’d been following the course of an underground water main from Golders Green as Nick delivered curbside sermons on how the civic infrastructure of northwest London acted as ‘storage vats of regional memory’. It’s four years since my last walk with Nick – on that occasion for This Other London where we’d picked up a short section of the water main off Cricklewood Broadway and followed it past St Michael’s Church and across Gladstone Park. So when I mooted another walk and various exotic possibilities were floated it seemed inevitable that we’d end up back somewhere in the vicinity of Stonebridge Park and that Nick’s sacred ley line gurgling through a 48 inch pipe beneath the pavement would play a role. Alongside the usual digital kit I lug around trying to capture these excursions (camera, field recorder, various mics and associated accessories) I lobbed a copy of Walter Jerrold’s Highways and Byways of Middlesex in my bag. Jerrold had guided me when I walked out from Sudbury Hill over Horsenden Hill through Perivale to Hanwell and in the course of that walk had teased me with descriptions of early 20th Century Hanger Hill and Twyford Abbey. It would make good tube reading on the way out to Stonebridge Park.”

Watch the film, made by John and Nick for Video Strolls to screen at the Birmingham Flatpack Film Festival, below:

John Rogers is an author and a documentary filmmaker. You can read his words here and watch his films here. His book This Other London: Adventures in the Overlooked City is published by Harper Collins, and his documentaries include The London Perambulator and Make Your Own Damn Art – The World of Bob and Roberta Smith. Most recently he has made a feature film with Iain Sinclair entitled London Overground.

Nick Papadimitriou is a walker, deep topographer and writer. His book Scarp is published by Sceptre.

John and Nick co-present the radio show and podcast Ventures and Adventures in Topography on ResonanceFM.


You can find the the previous Video Strolls posts here.

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