196 is the number of snaps that I took on a walk from Waterloo via the Southbank and Millennium Bridge to just past Liverpool Street station – opposite Norton Folgate. I frequently take somewhere between 50 and 250 – so 196 is a normal number – but typically only 23 of them are good enough to show.
The photographs are of what took my fancy on the way of this short (two and a bit miles) walk.
There are cities where the number of old buildings would be much greater; there at cities where the number of new buildings would be much greater, but nowhere, other than London is there such juxtapositioning of old and new. And that is what I like most about the place.
As always in London (forget about Brexit) there are lots of new buildings going up.
Three of them are of new residential skyscrapers: One Blackfriars (architect Ian Simpson), the nearby Southbank Tower (more or less complete) and Principal Tower on Bishopsgate (architect Foster and Partners) – just past the Broadgate development. They will all be striking new architectural additions to the London scene but One Blackfriars is currently priced in the range £1.15M to £23M; Southbank Tower is “Price on Application” (a fancy way of saying expensive) and the Principal Tower starts at £794K (no doubt for a studio flat).
Many, if not most, of these will be bought by foreigners – who do not live in this country – and will be left empty to appreciate. Together they will comprise over 140 floors and make virtually no contribution to the real housing needs of London. Soon most of the central area of London – as is happening in Manhattan – will be out of bounds for ordinary people – by which (ridiculously) I mean couples earning up to £100K pa between them. This is not sensible Planning because if the people who teach, are policemen, drive the buses, tubes and trains, serve in all the restaurants and sandwich bars etc., have to travel such long distances to work they will be priced out of their jobs not just by housing but also by travel costs and the whole thing will just not work. We must be careful not to end up with just useless glitz.
In addition to photographs of these buildings, I have some of views of and from the Southbank and of some of the new (office) skyscrapers going up in the City. I also have some of St Nicholas Cole Abbey – a church that is a now a training centre for the Church and coffee bar for the public, and the church of St Mary Aldermary which was rebuilt after the Great Fire – being completed again in 1682.
There is one of Liverpool Street Station and one of the new HQ for Bloomberg News on Queen Victoria Street. This was the site of the former Bucklesbury House – a very ugly 1960s block that ruined the view from Waterloo Bridge. The new building has taken a very long time to emerge – but looks now to be close to being completed. The building is the site of the Temple of Mithras – an ancient Roman site – that will hopefully have a much better access for members of the public than hitherto.
This is published on the First Day of Advent, so for those of my readers who celebrate Christmas – have a Happy Christmas.
The next edition will be published on the day of Eight Maids A-milking…