Rachel Lichtenstein is among the foremost writers of London’s social history. Her beautifully crafted books about important London streets weave archive research with the testimonies of local workers and residents. Her most recent book, Diamond Street, charts the history of Hatton Garden, from the medieval fruit gardens on the banks of the River Fleet to the rise of the jewellery and precious-metal trades, still evident today.
This masterful work has just come out in paperback. Better yet, it’s also available as a free app for Apple and Android devices, put together by the same team who built the superb Soho Stories and Hackney Hear apps.
The format is slick. Simply pop your earphones in and walk around the area. Your device’s GPS knows where you are, and feeds you appropriate audio stories from the area’s recent past. These location-specific tales are complemented by old photos, maps and (if you’re at a wifi spot) video. If you move out of a story location, your device remembers where you left off…so if you wander back again later, it resumes from the same point. In other words, witchcraft in your pocket. Just remember to get the paperback, too.