A walk: Bank to Hoxton Market

A walk: Bank to Hoxton Market – photos

I set off along Threadneedle Street, turned left along Bishopsgate – not taking any photographs because I had taken shots of buildings along here in last month’s set. I turned left up Liverpool Street (the street not the station) and just after Broadgate turned right into Finsbury Circus where I started to take some snaps.

The green circle in the centre of Finsbury Circus is still covered in building work for the Moorgate Crossrail station – and it will be restored after the station opens. It is actually the largest open space in the City. My fourth photo – in Finsbury Circus – shows Britannic House – designed by Sir Edward Lutyens.

I turned right out of the square up Moorgate, taking one snap of Ropemaker Place, continuing in to City Road, passing first Finsbury Square; the first photo of which shows Citygate House by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott of Battersea Power Station and red telephone box fame. It was completed in 1930, though as can be seen there are some modern additions on the top – but they don’t detract from the splendour of the building.

As I went up City Road towards Old Street Roundabout – nowadays nicknamed Silicon Roundabout because of the number of high tech start ups in the immediate vicinity – I did not call off on my left into Bunhill Fields Cemetery – but with just a little bit of cheating, I can show a photo of John Bunyan’s tomb (author of Pilgrim’s Progress) which I took in 2011 – though I am not sure that John Bunyan would approve my ‘little bit of cheating’.
I took a couple of snaps of Old Street roundabout and of a lovely graffiti just by there. Adjacent to the roundabout they are building yet more swanky towers though just to the north it is mostly very pleasant Council estates, all the way thorough to Hoxton Market.

My last photograph of Coronet Street – next to Hoxton Market – shows on the left the National Centre for Circus Arts, so if you want to get practising your high wire technique, that’s the place to go.

If you are interested to undertake this walk – what with meandering about a bit, it is less than two miles, so not too strenuous.

Crystal Palace & the Money Palace

Crystal Palace & the Money Palace – photos

Apologies for the missing post on 1st June. This was caused what might be described as a surfeit of domesticity. I had to catch up on our allotment – seriously behind schedule because of the very dry Spring. I installed a new PC – always a bigger task than expected. I spent time helping as a labourer my son and daughter in law on house renovations. And finally, we welcomed another granddaughter into the world.

This month is back to some contrasts – between Crystal Palace and what I have called The Money Palace – namely the City. It is interesting to compare them because Crystal Palace is so-called, when after the Great Exhibition of 1851, the exhibition building was transferred from Hyde Park to Sydenham Hill – in what is nowadays the very pleasant Crystal Palace Park. The building burned down in 1936 and all that can be seen now are the terraces which were built to house the transferred building, which are, by the way, Grade II listed.
You will see the Crystal palace TV transmitter on one of my photos and also the backup Croydon transmitter on one of them
The comparison is between a suburb – which housed the building set up to display Britain’s greatest manufacturing wares of the time and the City – which makes vast sums of money from financial services.

The City can be viewed in full breath-taking panorama from Crystal Palace and indeed Crystal Palace is one of the relatively few hilly areas in the whole of Greater London.

Crystal Palace frequently seems to feature on the Channel 4 programme – Location Location Location with people buying an apartment there and loving the area with it’s “bars and restaurants” – and indeed there do seem to be plenty of them.

The City continues to build on a large scale with many skyscrapers on the up. For those who like their buildings with names I see that at long last work has begun on the Can of Ham – a building so called because it resembles one of those cans of ham that used to be popular in the 1950’s and 60’s (do they still do them?).
I have photographed both new and a few older buildings – one of which Holland House, which is just opposite the Gherkin, and like the terraces for the Crystal Place exhibition building is Grade II listed.

Canning Town

Canning Town – photos

Canning Town is a largely residential area built to house the workers at the royal docks. Until at late as the 1930’s it was a slum area. The docks have gone, and it is now a largely local authority area of housing – often small houses and some small scale – and not very bonny – blocks. It is also part of one of the largest re-build areas in London with new buildings going up on a massive scale and my collection of photos has in part tried to capture this new development.

One of my photos is no more than a street sign for Butchers Road. This was where Ronan Point was situated. Ronan Point was a tower block of some 22 floors and in 1964 a gas explosion on the 18th floor caused most of the floors below to collapse. Two people were killed and several injured. The block was built using the Larsen Neilsen method of construction in which each floor was held up by the ones below. The building was repaired and the walls strengthened but in 1986 it was finally completely demolished. This was not before time as calculation later showed that it would almost certainly have blown down in the Great Storm of 1987. The poor design of the building led to major changes in Building Regulations here in the UK and in most advanced Western countries. It is still quoted and studied as an example of how “not to” by architecture and civil engineering students.

For a long time the example of Ronan Point slowed the development of high rise buildings in the UK – though as can be seen from my photographs this has long since been set aside – though, of course using todays standards and Building Regulations.

The massive redevelopment of the dockland areas has much to commend it – the docks had become disused and the area was consequently blighted but there are some shortcomings which are not easy to put right. The main one that is noticeable is the paucity of green space. It is not, of course easy to generate green space – you can’t just clear an area and make it a park – well only at very great cost such as happened at the Olympic Park. Secondly there is a lack of discernable town centres with all the things – shops, restaurants, coffee bars etc. that people look for in a town centre. But, if you consider Canary Wharf – which is still being developed – it started out as nothing more than a few isolated office blocks. Now it has many residential buildings, shops, restaurants and so on and has started to become a pleasant – if a bit over-swanky – place to live and work. These things take time.


Tottenham – Photos

Tottenham is hardly the bonniest or most photogenic place in London.
It has a famous football team but in the past 40 odd years has also been infamous for riots.
Both emanated from the Broadwater Farm Estate which is shown on my first nine photos.

Broadwater Farm was built in 1973 and was initially very popular but soon fell into unpopularity as faults with the development became apparent: infestations of cockroaches from the waste shafts, lots of problems of damp and the high level walkways between buildings acting as perfect getaways for criminals.

In 1985 the police raided a flat searching for ‘stolen goods’ and one of the residents – a black middle-aged lady took such fright that she had a heart attack and died. There were accusations of police racism and rioting took place – initially outside the police station in the High Road but soon confined to the Estate.

The rioting got so bad that a police officer – PC Keith Blakelock was killed by the mob.

When calm was restored, Michael Heseltine investigated and some improvements to the Estate were made – including that most of the troublesome high level interconnecting walkways were removed.

The second case of rioting was rather more recent, in 2011, following the shooting by the police of Mark Duggan, a resident of Broadwater Farm, near to Tottenham Hale (my next to last picture is of the rather garish buildings at Tottenham Hale Station). Mark Duggan was a known local criminal and it was claimed he was armed and indeed a gun was found close to where he was shot, though suspicion probably remains as to whether it was his gun.

Mark Duggan’s death caused rioting on a much larger scale in the centre of Tottenham; rioting which soon spread to other parts of London and to other places in Britain.

Again improvements to the Estate were promised, though from what I have read most of these were social improvements – such as the well-run football club for young kids on the estate – run by a resident.

Whilst I was photographing I met a nice chap – a Muslim guy who I think may have one time originated from Sudan. He spoke very well educated English and told me that he was visiting a friend, and that many of the flats were ‘horrible’ inside and asked about demolition. I knew of no demolition plans (there aren’t any) and since the Estate houses some 4,800 people there are not likely to be any.

According to Wikipedia, the crime rate on the Estate is now massively reduced and below the average for Haringey Borough (the local authority).

I have followed my photos of the Broadwater Farm Estate with some photos of the Tottenham High Road and some of the emerging new football stadium. The football stadium is going to be huge – as so many of the new ones are and I wondered looking at it, if it might last as long as that well known stadium – the Coliseum in Rome – but I rather doubt it… The stadium will result in a lot of new development of housing and some general improvement to the town centre when it is complete.

The High Road is full of rather low grade shops but the buildings are really very nice high street architecture and in a place such a Hampstead or Richmond the same buildings would be trendy and fashionable shops and restaurants.

The last picture I have of the High Road itself is one that I have called Amazing Cakes
Amazing Cakes,
How sweet the taste…
(With apologies to Reverend John Newton who wrote the well known hymn)

Nine Elms update

Nine Elms update – photos

Nine Elms/Battersea is one of the largest redevelopments in the whole of London. It involves demolishing and rebuilding the famous four Battersea Power Station chimneys as well as major development of the Power Station itself, and a new extension of the Northern Line tube from Kennington to Battersea.

This is the second time it has been attempted – the last being when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. Because of the collapse of that venture, I have frequently been doubtful about the outcome this time around – but now that they are about to start the fourth and final Power Station chimney rebuild, the two tunnel boring machines for the tube extension are ready underground to start work later this month, and with the vast amount of other new construction going up, I do think this time it will all get finished.

The area is mostly north of the railway line going in to Waterloo, from nearly at Queens Road Battersea all the way to Vauxhall Station – but with also a very great deal of redevelopment on the south side of the rail line – especially at the Vauxhall Station end.

When you go past in the train you can see new towers going up like mushrooms in a field in a morning. Apart from the already occupied St George’s Wharf Tower, the three highest skyscrapers have yet to show above ground. There are two for the Chinese Wanda Corporation, next to the St George’s Wharf Tower and one south of the railway called the Versace Tower. The Chinese build ones are on their third construction contractor – now the giant Canadian Multiplex organisation. The developers could not seem to agree final contracts with the previous two builders and progress was very slow indeed. It does not bode well for Chinese involvement in a new nuclear power station at Dungeness, though progress does now seem to be speeding up somewhat – so maybe it is now all sorted out.

In addition to the Power Station, the other major iconic development is that of a new US Embassy (their place in Grosvenor Square will become an hotel) and the towers built around it are called Embassy Gardens – and their marketing boards talk about a “New diplomatic area” – but I only see the one embassy going up – namely that for the USA.

Taking photos around the area is hard work: the roads are murder for pedestrians and each construction site entrance represent a danger of being flattened under a truck. Obviously the construction sites will come to an end – but let us hope that the road system is made a bit more user and pedestrian friendly than it currently is, or the only way you will be able to get to your new swanky tower will be in a car or a cab.

My third photograph is of the 750 tonne crane that lifted the two tunnel boring machines down the shaft into the ground to start digging out the tube extension.

I quite like some of my snaps of the new Embassy – it is at least less monotonous than some of the towers.

I have now got my right eye all sorted for cataracts by the excellent nurses and quacks of the world famous Moorefields Eye Hospital. In another week the other one will get done.
At the moment with one done and one awaiting treatment, it’s a bit like walking around with one shoe off and one shoe on, so I’ll end with a nice silly rhyme:

Diddle Dumpling my son John,
Went to bed with his trousers on,
One shoe off and the other shoe on,
Diddle Diddle Dumpling my son John.

City of London

City of London – Photos
There is a degree of artistic licence (ie not quite strictly true) when I say these photos are from the City of London – some of them are strictly speaking from outside The City – over in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. They are only beyond the City boundary by a short distance and in streets frequented by City workers every single day; in an area subject to rapid change including the onward march of the skyscrapers, which are voraciously welcomed by the Planning Departments of Boroughs such as Tower Hamlets and Hackney which abut onto the City, for the Council Tax income that they bring.
Anyway – they make for some interesting contrasts.

In general what I have shown of the City is some of the new skyscrapers – under construction – and some that are already is use – but also with one or two traditional City views. These are contrasted with the very different type of buildings just over in Spitalfields in Tower Hamlets, with the danger that the skyscrapers will take over the whole area.

I took this set on 2nd January – a day that was part of the extended Christmas/New Year holidays and thus the area was very quiet but for a few tourists, and I was often able to stand safely in the middle of the road to take a snap.

At the moment there are five skyscrapers under construction in the City: 22 Bishopsgate, 100 Bishopsgate, the Scalpel at 52 Lime Street, the Heron Plaza (next door to the Heron Tower – which nowadays is called the Salesforce Tower) and the Principal Tower – a residential tower adjacent to the Eastern end of Broadgate. There are more that have received Planning approval and are thus likely to be on their way. The ‘fun’ part of Spitalfields is likely to be under threat.

Next month’s posting may be a little delayed because I have got some cataracts which are about to be removed – bit of a nuisance really for an amateur photographer – but you dear reader might then just possibly get shown some improved photos…

A Night on the Town

A Night on the Town – photos

Happy New Year.

This set is perhaps not the most “architectural” of photos. As can be seen from some of the snaps – it was very busy. They were taken during December.

I took some photos of the advertising displays at Piccadilly Circus but decided they were not good enough to show. Later this month they will be switched off and the displays dismantled as they are being replaced by one of the largest single LCD displays anywhere in the World which will wrap right round the building. It will be the autumn before the new lights are working. They have not been switched off for so long since World War II. Indeed, since the War they have been switched off on only two occasions: for Winston Churchill’s funeral and for Princess Diana’s funeral – though they do get switched off for an hour each year in support of the worldwide Earth Hour.

One of the abiding features of the West End – pretty much regardless of the time of day – and like much else of central London, is the volume of traffic. Whilst I accept that much of it is made up of buses, cabs and delivery vehicles, all too much is the number of private cars. The congestion charge worked a treat when it was first introduced, but it needs to be steeply increased to help in the fight against the jams and air pollution. Public transport in London is quite brilliant and we are going to have to accept that cities like London will only work well with traffic reduced to more manageable volumes.

Anyway, next month I shall get back to some photos of some architecture, but in the meantime once again Happy New Year


196 – Photos

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…

Greenwich: Old and New

Greenwich: Old and New – photos

This was quite a difficult assignment: the older (World Heritage) parts of Greenwich are so stunning it is difficult to choose which to select, and the newer (Greenwich Peninsular) developments are so large scale and so much underway that it is difficult to get to many of them to take a photo.
My first photograph is of King William Street just by the rebuilt Cutty Sark. Whilst being in the “heart” of the World heritage sites, there are many mixed views about it. There were two disastrous fires during the re-construction of the Cutty Sark – one in 2007 and again in 2014, resulting in much loss of the structure. The holding surround (designed by Grimshaws) – which houses a visitor museum – won the Building Design “Carbuncle Cup” in 2012.

There then follows a series of alternating photos of the new Greenwich Peninsular developments and those of Maritime Greenwich.
It is confusing as to which particular building belongs to the Maritime Museum, which to the Old Naval College and which to the University and to Greenwich Palace, and I have named them all as “Maritime Museum” which is not accurate at all.
There are two of the Chapel – but not one of the Painted Hall. I have some photos of the Painted Hall from some few years ago. It is currently being re-furbished and I decided against the older photos.
There is one photograph of the Observatory – taken in 2011 – but I don’t think this has changed much!
Similarly there is one of the old hospital down by the river – again from 2011.
There are one or two of St Alphege Church – which was the first full church designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor built during 1712 – 1718. Hawksmoor was originally the Clerk of Works at the Greenwich Hospital before becoming Sir Christopher Wren’s most famous pupil.
The church of St Alphege is a very old church and was the place where Henry VIII was baptised (1499, I think – well that’s when he was born – in Greenwich).

The Greenwich Peninsular development is large scale and will take possibly 20 years to complete. When I went photographing it a while back, I got chatting to one of the site project managers. He was, I think, in his late forties (maybe early fifties) and he said that the development would “see him out”. It is not too long a walk (less than a couple of miles) along the river from the O2 to the town centre of Greenwich – but at the moment it is impossible to see your way down onto the river path because of all the construction work. You can get a rough idea of the scale of the Greenwich Peninsular development on the
Greenwich Peninsular website.

A short hike round Hoxton

A short hike round Hoxton – Photos

Hoxton was for many years an area that I probably would not have wanted to visit – well not unaccompanied at least. Now, however it is becoming increasingly fashionable and pleasant and gentrified, though there are still one or two estates that are a bit better not visited after dark…

My first photo is strictly speaking in Shoreditch (both Shoreditch and Hoxton are part of London Borough of Hackney) and one or two of the others are Shoreditch also.

There are a number of photos of the interior of St Monica’s RC Church in Hoxton Square which I have photographed before – a little over three years ago. I was surprised to discover that the chancel part of the church (the narrower part of the aisle surrounding the altar) was beautifully decorated – what I took to be new decorations. However, I learnt that the decorations were discovered when the Church underwent a major restoration programme earlier this year. They are by E W Pugin, the son of Augustus Welby Pugin – one of Victorian England’s most eminent church architects.
The parish priest at St Monica’s was at one time a Father Kelly (d. 1914) who established the nearby St Monica’s School and did much for the local poor. He became known as the Saint of the Slums and his obituary appeared in the New York Times and occupied a full page in the Daily Sketch.
For this I am indebted to the Westminster RC Diocese Newsletter.

Many of the photos are of Hoxton Street – where there is a market – but not on the day I was there. In the middle of the street is a quite amazing lovely community garden – which is really quite a haven away from the street itself.

As can be seen from the very trendy shoe shop that I have snapped in Hoxton Square, Hoxton is no longer much part of the slums…However, as with so many such areas if all the new housing is affordable only to the very well-off, we will end up removing all the working population of London and this will be a disaster. Only this week, I have been reading of two new swanky towers about to be built on the Colville Estate – just to the north and east of Hoxton Street.