Memoryscape logo Voices from the hidden history of the Thames

Frequently asked questions:

Can I search this site for keywords?
Yes you can. Type a search word or phrase in the following box to search the entire text of the memoryscape website for key words, including transcripts of the recordings. To come back to this page afterwards, use the 'back' arrow button of your browser.


What equipment do I need to experience a memoryscape walk?
Most people use an MP3 player or a phone that can play mp3 sound files you can download the booklet and MP3s from here. You may also wish to take boots, particularly on the Dockers walk after rain, as the path is badly drained in places and very large puddles can form. The trail can also be played on a personal CD player. To buy a professionally produced CD set of both walks and an eight page map booklet, see this page.

How long do the walks take?
Both walks are three miles or less, but allow two and a half hours for each walk. You may wish to take refreshments with you - there are shops at the beginning and end of each route, but not along the footpaths.

How up to date is this website/these trails?

This website and the trails were published in 2005. I have not updated or altered the trails. Please note that some features on the trails have changed since 2005, most dramatically on the Dockers walk - for example Lovell's Wharf and the Millennium Motel have been destroyed and redeveloped. However, the routes are still the same and and you can listen to what has now become audio archaeology. I have decided to preserve, rather than adapt and update as this work is now of historical interest to researchers in terms of place-based interpretation. That said, I occassionally update the home page to include links to latest projects, this page and the publications page.

Can you do these walks with a group?
I can organise a walk for your group/class/society by arrangement, and I can provide equipment. Please email me for further details or call 0795 729 4907.

Where exactly did the float hit the bank in the Drifting experiment?
Listening points on the Drifting walk are roughly where the float hit the bank, although not all points were used to make the walk work. If the float became stuck I would manually retrieve it and return in to the flow of the river. If you are interested in locating the exact places, you can find the GPS location references here.

Are the walks accessible?
Both walks follow the Thames Path public footpath. They are completely wheelchair and bicycle accessible with ramp access. However, there are occasional low kerbs and uneven surfaces, particularly on the 'Dockers' walk, which passes through a gravelly aggregates yard. If you are partially sighted or blind, the audio walks should work very well - a group of partially sighted people tried Dockers and rated the experience very highly - but you will need a sighted friend to guide you and describe locations - please note that some stretches of the river path are unfenced with a long drop into the river. I would also recommend taking boots it has rained recently as puddles can cover the whole path in places. If you are deaf or have partial hearing you can still do the walks - full transcripts are available. They can be printed out and read along the way. See this web page for free downloads of the transcripts and maps.

Are the walks safe?
The walks are along public footpaths. hundreds of joggers, cyclists and walkers safely use the paths each day, but as every Londoner knows, walking in any part of the city has its risks and sensible precautions should be taken. I have met someone who was robbed on the Thames path at Greenwich - they weren't doing the memoryscape, and thankfully they were unharmed, but I mention it to impress upon you the importance of a few precautions. Both walks are along isolated stretches of the river and they are mostly unlit at night. I would strongly recommend doing the walks only in daylight hours. Allow enough time (ie two hours) to finish them in daylight. It is always safer to walk with a friend. Leave large sums of money, valuables and expensive equipment at home. Take a mobile phone to call for help if you need it (the emergency services number is 999 in the UK).

Going down to the shore on the Dockers walk at low tide is a great experience, but you must be careful. This is the advice I was given by the harbour master: find out the tide times at London Bridge (here) to avoid times when the tide is rising; wear good boots or shoes as occassionally needles wash up on the shore (and the mud can be deep); ALWAYS stay in sight of the steps you used to to get access to the shore, so you can get back to them; and take a mobile phone. In London the height of the river can change in minutes. People can and do get cut off by the tide. If it happens to you, or you see someone in trouble, call 999 and ask for 'coastguard'. There is a lifeboat station relatively close by at Tower Pier, so they shouldn't be too long...

What about a pub lunch?
There are excellent riverside pubs at both ends of the Drifting walk. Most of them serve food all day. There are also good pubs along the first stages of the Dockers walk. A café/bar at the end of the Dockers walk (the Millennium Motel) used to be open for walkers until it was destroyed, but now there are numerous cafes, bars and places to eat around North Greenwich underground station.

Can I just play the CD at home?
If you want to, but memoryscape has been carefully designed to bring alive the deeply
personal and often hidden histories of the landscape - listening at home will only give you a fraction of the experience.

Can two people listen at the same time on one player?
Yes, if you attach a speaker to the Mp3/CD player, or you can buy a headphone splitter jack plug from Maplin or Ebay (costs around £1). This is a little plug that turns one headphone socket into two headphone sockets. Two sets of headphones can then be connected to the same player.

How do I get to the walks?
CAR: There are pay and display car parks at the beginning of both walks; a multi-storey car park is almost in sight of the Cutty Sark. At Hampton Court you can pay to park at the railway station or park for free in Bushy Park or on the residential roads in East Molesey after 9.30am.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT: both walks are within London's Travelcard zones and have good public transport from the beginning and end of each route. For timetable and route planning advice, call London Travel Information 020 7222 1234 or click here for the Transport for London website.

DRIFTING starts at Molesey Lock near Hampton Court railway station (about 35 minutes from Waterloo station). The walk ends at Kingston, which has regular buses back to Hampton Court, or you can travel direct to London from Kingston railway station.

DOCKERS starts at the Cutty Sark in Greenwich. It is only 100 metres from the Cutty Sark station on the Docklands Light Railway, or alternatively, a short walk from Greenwich railway station (a 10 minute ride from London Bridge). The walk finishes at North Greenwich underground station (Jubilee line and regular buses to Greenwich). Please note some features on the trail have changed dramatically to due redevelopment, for example Lovell's Wharf and the Millennium Motel have been destroyed and redeveloped. However, the route is still the same and and you can listen to what has now become audio archaeology.

Please note that when you buy a CD set or download a walk you will receive a walking map to help you find your way - you can also download the maps here.

What is the author's background?
I have been involved with oral history since I was a history undergraduate, and have organised/worked on oral history projects with communities in the USA, Wales and India. My first experience of designing a trail was as a historian/tour guide at Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London. I later made use of my interviewing skills by moving into journalism, writing for newspapers and magazines about heritage, arts and museums. I became the editor of Third Sector, a magazine for people who work for charities and Foster Care Magazine, for people who look after children in care. I took an MA in public history at Ruskin College, Oxford and a PhD in cultural geography at Royal Holloway, University of London and the Museum of London, where I worked on Linked, a sound art trail by Graeme Miller along a motorway in East London, developed the memoryscape trails and completed a qualification in museum curation (AMA). Currently I am a Reader in London History and Heritage at the University of East London. I am also heavily involved with the Raphael Samuel History Centre where we have launched an exciting new MA programme entitled heritage studies: place, memory and history and I am an editor of the History Workshop Journal. Since work on these trails I have worked on several projects including a series of multimedia trails around Victoria Park and the Royal Docks in East London. I have published work in many different books, newspapers and magazines, but this is a list of recent academic publications. You can find links to my other trail projects on the home page.

Will you be creating any other walks? Can you make one, or help us make one for our village/town/borough?
Yes! I have a great deal of experience of creating, designing and producing memoryscapes. If you are a local authority, tourism officer, community group, development agency or company that would be interested in creating or commissioning a memoryscape in your area, please get in touch.

How do I contact you?
I am now a digital education consultant at Birkbeck and a research fellow at Royal Holloway. You can contact me (Toby Butler) directly via email or call 0795 729 4907.

Why does this website look so old, and refer to CD players?
I have linked to this website in a lot of publications and I decided to keep it going, essentially as it always looked, as a kind of museum piece, so students and others could still have access to it and reflect on how things have - and haven't - changed in memoryscape making since the site first went live back in 2005. Everything is as it was except the home pages, where I put links to new projects, and the publications list, including references to CD players, long superceded by smart phones. With a bit of zooming, the site can still be navigated and sound files played on phone. But it was never designed to do that.

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