Alan Fortune

picture of Alan Fortune
Contact 07725 997943 or mail

Let me introduce myself.  Originally from Devon, and then the Universities of Reading, London, Stockholm and Edinburgh, I have lived in London for over 30 years and am an enthusiastic student of the city, being fascinated in particular by its cosmopolitanism, its social history and its literary connections.  In 2012 I retired from an academic career as a Senior Lecturer in linguistics at King’s College London and since then have divided my time between university teaching, exploring London and guiding.

I am a qualified guide in the City of Westminster Guide and the Borough of Camden. I also train people to become guides and am currently Course Director of the Camden Tour Guiding Course. My current portfolio of walks includes:

  • Soho pubs and restaurants: the European dimension – how Soho’s European immigrants, and even its short-term residents from Europe, have made huge contributions to our culture, to literature, to scientific knowledge and to global political movements.  Many were vivid Bohemian characters who either lived in the vicinity of a pub or were habitués.
  • Literary Soho – explore the Soho lives of some famous literary figures.  Some, like William Blake and Fanny Burney, lived in Soho when very young; others wrote, drank and ate in the area as adults. We will look at places frequented by such literary giants as George Orwell and Dylan Thomas, the tomb of William Hazlitt, and the home of one of the creators of the horror novel genre.
  • Soho Rock n’ Roll – how Soho’s clubs shaped rock and pop history – this tour of legendary venues shows how rock and pop were forged in Soho’s trailblazing music clubs of the 1950s, through the 1960s and up to the dawn of punk in the 1970s. We also look at associated youth fashions and the developing countercultures of the time.
  • St. Pancras in Literature, Film and Drama – look at the lives of important figures from the worlds of literature, film, and theatre who have lived and worked in St. Pancras and Somers Town.  These include the former home of award-winning film director Mike Leigh, the gravestone of the forerunner of modern feminist writing, Mary Wollstonecraft, and the site of a radical theatre where the famous American singer/actor, Paul Robeson, once performed.  The walk finishes at a famous railway platform where you can board the Hogwarts Express.
  • Ealing: Queen of the Suburbs – explore Ealing, long known as the Queen of the Suburbs.  Hear about Ealing Studios and its famous film industry connections and discover one of Ealing’s gems, Pitzhanger Manor, Sir John Soane’s elegant country home.  You will learn about a club that changed the face of rock and roll, dark events in the Borough’s history and about television’s most famous time-travelling Doctor.

I am also happy to lead walking tours around Marylebone, Mayfair, Whitehall, King’s Cross, St. James, Bloomsbury, the West End, Covent Garden, Camden Town and Hampstead, as well as my home borough of Ealing.

Walks currently on Footprints of London:

Alan Fortune (guide details)

Soho Rock n' Roll: how Soho's clubs shaped rock and pop

Sun, 4 Mar

Your guide: Alan Fortune
Description: On this tour of legendary venues we find out how rock and pop were forged in Soho’s trailblazing music clubs of the 1950’s, through the 1960’s up to the dawn of punk in mid 1970’s. We also look at associated youth fashions and the developing counter culture.


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