Roman Road LDN is a hyperlocal magazine covering Bow and Globe Town in east London. Roman Road is the ‘spine’ of our turf, hence the name. We launched as a full-time publication in 2018, but our story begins four years prior.
In 2014, residents of Bow and Globe Town organised the first Roman Road Festival, a celebration of local life, business, and art. The scale of the project, which grew to encompass dozens of events and hundreds of volunteers, sparked the creation of the Roman Road Trust.
Run by volunteers, Roman Road Trust became the face of grassroots projects in the area and supported the founding and development of a number of local community organisations including Roman Road Bow Neighbourhood Forum, Edible Bow, Globe Town Assembly, and Roman Road Community Land Trust who all grew with the support of Roman Road Trust.
And so did we. Roman Road LDN is one such organisation. The brand was originally created by Roman Road Trust to promote the high street online, on social media and on merchandise. When former magazine editor and Social Streets C.I.C founder Tabitha Stapely proposed developing Roman Road LDN into a fully-fledged community-led local magazine, Roman Road Trust recognised the potential benefits to the local community and economy. They provided the support and partnerships needed for Social Streets’s C.I.C to develop and launch Roman Road LDN as a daily online magazine in 2018.
By 2019 Roman Road LDN had 2,500 subscribers, 10,000 followers on social media, and nearly 100,000 unique readers a year. The demand for local journalism had been proven and Roman Road Trust agreed it was time for Roman Road LDN to become fully independent as a Social Streets project.
The aim of Roman Road LDN, and Social Streets CIC as a whole, is to tackle the decline of the high street using journalism. We want to reinvent the publishing model for the 21st century, moving away from reliance on ad revenue and instead modelling journalism built around local identity and community.
Glossy magazines and national papers don’t have a monopoly on great stories. Every neighbourhood, every street has tales that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best that the New Yorker has to offer. They just need someone on the ground to write them down.
We believe hyperlocal journalism connects readers with their area and each other. We believe celebrating the lives of local people, sharing the stories of local businesses, unearthing the riches of local culture and heritage, and providing a platform for people to have their say, strengthens community ties and boosts the local economy.
Journalism is a struggling industry clinging desperately to the way things have always been done. Our role is to explore alternatives, to see if a grassroots approach to news can not just survive, but flourish.
We are a work in progress. Mistakes will be made, kooky experiments will be conducted and some will end up on the cutting room floor, but that’s the game we’re in. The readership is there. The rest will come. We hope you’ll join us.