From an article on ‘Gaiety George’, successful shows that ran at the Strand’s Gaiety theatre during the 1890s and 1900s and its female stars, to the ‘Victorian Lives revealed’, highlighting neglected personalities from King’s Staff such as Dame Fawcett, who taught in the Ladies Department and turned out to be none other than Millicent Garrett Fawcett, campaigner for women’s suffrage: Strandlines will bring to you a historical sense of the Strand microcosm and perhaps even make you feel a small nostalgia and melancholy.
Sadly, memories often get lost in time; forgotten and ignored. Events, places, contexts and most importantly life-stories: they progressively vanish from our collective consciousness. Strandlines, a digital community dedicated to the exploring of lives on the Strand - ‘past, present, creative’, engages itself on the noble mission of keeping and exposing some of those neglected traces. Serving as a home for experiences, memories and reflection on the local area of the Strand, this digital gallery exposes the complex and enlivened microcosm of the area.
The project began in 2011, with the idea springing from several departments at King’s. The goal of our College’s faculty was to establish a digital community on the Strand by bringing the physical space of the streets and their stories to a digital space. In 2017, after having been ‘very badly hacked’, it was rescued, redesigned and re-launched as a digital community bringing, among other things, different stories across time. Professor Clare Brandt, the project director, is a lecturer in Eighteenth-century English literature & culture at King’s. Contacted by Strand Magazine, she affirms that there will be ‘some new exciting features, like a timeline’ with the 2017 renewal. ‘We aim to re-launch some time in the academic year’ Dr. Brandt indicates, with a ‘renewing of our group of artists’.
‘Student involvement is particularly welcome’
In order to keep the archives from covering with dust, the organisation collects a kaleidoscope of Strand lives and releases it to the public: with its different and unique ‘structures of feelings’ (in the terms of Raymond Williams), different stories from the Strand are collected on the website. You will mainly find on the site, the genre of life writing - a genre which includes memoir, testimony, reminiscence, letters, diaries, blogs and other forms of autobiography and biography. It can also include film, photography, visual and material arts. Actually, all that can have the quality of telling life stories is used by the Strandlines team in their collection. Films, photographs, drawings, and audio files can be viewed and listened to on Strandlines in its mission to salvage the uniqueness of the Strand. It combines materials from the King’s and Westminster archives and, with the Strand at its centre, the area represented ranges from Trafalgar Square to Fleet Street to Covent garden to the Thames.
London’s central area and College indeed hides a couple of secrets. The organisation peaks into each corner of lost time and brings to light anecdotal stories and events.
‘We would like Strand 2.0 to reach out everyone who lives, works, plays on or visits the Strand, so that Strandlines becomes an imaginative hub to revive and exchange Strand lives past, present and creative’ - Clare Brandt
Clare is very optimistic about Strandlines’ future. She affirms looking forward to thinking up new ideas, and also welcoming suggestions. One idea that they have already, for example, is to make a smell map of the Strand, or a map using all five senses.
With a lot to offer to the bewildering 'Strand-ian', Strandlines is an unavoidable platform. Only at its beginning, student participation is deeply encouraged for this professedly ambitious and exciting project.