It’s all about the road: Artist Dan Thompson tells the story of London Road in year long Appetite project

A Potteries road steeped with history and folklore will come under the spotlight in a year long project.

Acclaimed artist Dan Thompson is joining forces with community groups and Appetite to chronicle the life of London Road, Stoke.

Dan is renowned for instigating the influential #riotcleanup project, will immerse himself in the local community as he compiles a history of London Road and the characters that have frequented it.

A Facebook page will give regular updates on the project and Dan will write a book telling the story of London Road “past, present and future.”

Dan will work with the organisers of the London Road Festival – a successful annual arts and music festival which happens in Stoke each June.

He was approached, and took on the project, when the Stoke-based Festival organisers suggested they would like to work with “someone like Dan Thompson” after being asked by Appetite which artists they would aspire to work with.
“All communities have a unique story to tell and the tale of London Road is fascinating. We hear, for example, the story of local resident Arnold Machin the man who put the face of the Queen on our stamps. He lived in the Villas, a well-known street off London Road, and once tied himself to a gas lamp in protest at a council plan to pull it down.

“We also have the Michelin site, a source of many stories, such as the millions of golf balls made in Stoke and exported around the world.”

Karl Greenwood of Appetite said: “Stoke’s London Road connects the buzzing, active communities of Boothen, West End and Oakhill to the town centre along a long, straight road that’s full of history, unusual buildings, old architectural features and public spaces waiting to be brought to life.

“This year-long artwork uses the whole street, London Road, as a venue. As Dan uncovers stories from the road, they’ll be marked by the reanimation of unloved spaces, restoration of original features, reinvention of forgotten buildings, gentle reminders of why the road is special, and regeneration from the bottom up.

“It will end in the publication of a book. This will be a psychogeographical, slightly fictional telling of the story of London Road, from one end to the other, from the Ice Age to the future. In that writing, focused on one special road and the people who use it, Dan will tell the whole story of Stoke.”

The book is expected to be launched at next summer’s London Road Festival.


For media enquiries contact Nigel Howle by telephone on 0776 2043436, e-mail [email protected].

Notes to Editors:

Appetite is the Creative People and Places programme taking place in Stoke-on-Trent from 2013 to 2016. Appetite aims to get more people in Stoke-on-Trent to experience and be inspired by the arts. This investment in the arts and cultural sector of the area aims to mobilise and strengthen the skills, knowledge and infrastructure that already exists within the area and provide unprecedented opportunities for more people to see, make and influence more art in the city.

The Appetite programme is funded by Arts Council England and is led by the New Vic Theatre in partnership with B Arts, Brighter Futures, Partners in Creative Learning and Staffordshire University. It is supported by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

Visit the Appetite website at

Dan Thompson:

Dan is the founder and director of Revolutionary Arts and author of Pop Up Business For Dummies. In 2012, he was included in the Time Out and Hospital Club’s Culture 100, a list of the most inspiring and influential people in the UK’s creative industries. Dan has used empty shops for 13 years, and he is now a recognised expert on the reuse of empty shops, and on how to create a pop up shop, and runs the Empty Shops Network.

He also started #riotcleanup, after the August 2011 riots in London. That project inspired the Nesta-funded #wewillgather, which uses social media for social good.

“Dan Thompson showed the best of Britain by helping organise the clean-up operation after last summer’s riots.” David Cameron.

Dan has provided advice and support to projects across the UK, and spoken at workshops, festivals and seminars across the country, and in Holland, Italy and Australia. He has worked for Unilever, RIBA, Renew Australia, the Transported Creative People & Places programme, Place NI, vInspired, University of the Arts, Spacemakers and Yell.