Ten storytellers One extraordinary space. A bell rings every five minutes and you move on to hear another tale. Like real life you never know what is coming next. It's up to you how you put this jigsaw together.




Speed history is like speed dating but without the awkward bit at the end where they ask to see you again. It's a room of historians and story tellers and actors and authors and ordinary/extraordinary people, all of whom have a something to share.

Each tale is a miniature - a snapshot - an essence - that lasts five minutes and is told to audiences of just five people. It might have props or pictures or a little video or just a spoken story. But at the end of the time a bell is rung and the audience choose another table to visit.



Speed history is a forum for tales less told, about the East End and its peoples. We want to tell you something you may not know and perhaps smash a few myths along the way. It's personal and eclectic; a collage of sometimes contradictory view points and interpretations. Again, like real life, there are always too many stories to hear.


"A beautiful, funny, moving experience."

"Brilliantly delivered."

"You make history come alive."

"Fabulous and full of surprises." 


Is speed history superficial? No, It's focussed and, in a good way, intense. The people who tell our tales are usually connected to their stories in some way and we often add a degree of theatricality which makes the experiences all the more memorable.

Speed history engages and shares in a way a history book or a talk could not. It's a very immediate form of communication that treats it's audiences as equals. These are lectures that don't lecture; exchanges of experience. They are one small step towards a new way of looking at the history of the East End, told from the inside.


The audience response has been amazing. 

So far we have presented Speed History events in

·        The Crypt of Christchurch Spitalfields

·        The Bishopsgate Institute library.

·        The Rich Mix Centre

·        Shoreditch Church

·        The Whitechapel Ideas Store

·        The Tower Hamlets local history library store rooms!

We have a major project planned for the winter and are always interested in new host venues.




Sarah Wise is an award winning history author, who has written extensively about the East End, Victorian mental asylums, grave robbing and the first council estates. Her research on the origins of Arthur Morrison's 'A Child Of The Jago' have changed forever the way we view this classic example of Victorian 'slum literature' and formed the basis of her previous Speed History contributions. Sarahwise.co.uk

Stefan Dickers says is the Library and Archives Manager of the Bishopsgate Institute Library, an amazing resource on the social and political history of East London and its relationship to the city. Well known for his guided tours and eclectic events, in Speed History he has specialised in magic lantern shows of photographs from the libraries collections, inviting viewers to interpret and interrogate images of the poor. Bishopsgate.org.uk

Michelle Johansen is educational officer at the Bishopsgate Institute,where she uses archive materials to teach the history of London in the 19th and 20th centuries. Her previous Speed History contributions have been theatrical looks at the origins of the many philanthropic libraries opened in the East End - and the way their creators competed! Mjohansonblog.wordpress.com

Toni Davey is a veteran of community theatre in the East End and the first woman to play the lead role in John Godber's normally all male 'Bouncers'.  A Stepney based writer, mum and community campaigner, she is also the Pearly Queen of Lambeth. So far Tony has written and performed pieces on her family history, the secret history of the Salvation Army and her husbands' obsession with Shoreditch born singer Matt Monroe.

Roger Mills is another long term local resident, a novelist and the author of 'Everything Happens In Cable Street' - the social history of this famous/infamous road. Rogers earlier Speed History pieces have included a shadow play on the early life of Hitchcock in Limehouse and a recreation of the Battle of Cable Street using Daleks and Subbuteo players.

Chris Lilly is an isle Of Dogs based writer, performer and community artist. He has worked in East End schools (with kids who refused to go to East End schools) for many years. With us has performed pieces about Shakespeare in Shoreditch and the less happy side of the Rock Against Racism concert that The Clash played in Victoria Park.

David Burghs grandparents were born in Spitalfields in 1900 and worked in the furniture industry of Shoreditch. Also a  performer with acclaimed immersive theatre company 'You Me Bum Bum Train', David has used Speed History to tell his families story using their actual furniture, as well as evoking a night in the blitz in a tent!

Deborah Scott-Lovric. The daughter of a Newham docker, later banished to Roehampton, Debbie returned to the East End as an artist, storyteller and teacher. Another performer with 'You, Me Bum Bum Train', Debbie's last Speed History piece was a sun lamp installation where she told the story of Shoreditch councils pioneering work on children's health.

Tim Smith is an East End born lighting technician, fire eater, and enigma. Who's that dude dressed as Elvis walking on stilts through the streets of Forest Gate? It's Tim.

Kate Sullivan is a Leytonstone based animator, graphic artist and film maker, whose acclaimed short about a 1948 Olympian, ‘Walk Tall’, has been screened at a great many festivals and is a favourite of Danny Boyle. She has also designed several animated series for the BBC, as well as all the multi-media elements used in the groups’ previous projects.    


As well as the core group many others have been part of speed history - and may be again. They include...

Danny Braverman, who premiered parts of his critically acclaimed 2013 Edinburgh show 'Wot No Fish ' with us. Alan Dein - BBC Radio 4 producer and presenter. Kim McGee - primary school teacher, puppeteer and daughter of Gladys, the legendary 'Bard Of Stepney'.  Alex Penner, cabaret performer and son of Manny Penner, former Mayor of Tower Hamlets. Keith Jones, founder of Tower Hamlets Wheelers, the long running East End cycle group and Chris Searle - a teacher sacked for publishing the poems of his pupils in the nineteen seventies, several of whom went on to create Speed History.

Walks and speed history events are also available for private bookings. Please drop us a line at spitalfields@hotmail.com to discuss