Around Clerkenwell

After breakfast at the Angel Inn (which is actually a cafe, not an inn), we went for a walk, starting by continuing down St John Street.

Once the Crown and Woolpack
Once the Crown and Woolpack

Pub mosaic
Pub mosaic

This building looks like a Victorian pub and it was indeed a Victorian pub, but today it is occupied by a beauty salon. At the side entrance, this mosaic identifies it as the Crown and Woolpack. In recent years many pubs have gone out of business.

Once the Empress of Russia
Once the Empress of Russia

Not very far away is “The Fish Shop on St John Street”, a fish restaurant, which was once the Empress of Russia, another dead pub, known as a venue for folk music in its day.

Window with decorative face
Window with decorative face

Much of the housing hereabouts consists of Georgian terraces, once town houses for families but nowadays mostly divided into flats or offices. Despite the similarity of design of groups of houses, many sport individual features and decorations, like the face above the window shown above.

This is not a park
This is not a park

In Hermit Street is this strange triangular space. It is not a park and not a garden, yet is does have some trees, ensconced behind railings and a locked gate. Perhaps it is opened in summer when it might be pleasant to sit under the trees.

Don't bother me - I'm busy
Don’t bother me – I’m busy

There, too, we met this black and white cat who was apparently happy to sit outside despite the cold and showed no interest in our invitations to make friends.

Coat of arms
Newer part Older part
Brewers Buildings, Rawstorne Street

This apartment block in Rawstorne Street, probably provided for workers, was built in three phases, 1871, 1876 and 1882, the later part in the photo on the left – one notices a simpler design of window gratings.

The old Gordon's Gin factory
The old Gordon’s Gin factory

This is the old Gordon’s Gin factory in Goswell Road. It’s huge size is testimony to Londoners’ (and, indeed, a worldwide) thirst for gin. Today it houses offices and I know nothing of its history or when it ceased producing gin – a little research project for later, perhaps. (Update May 13th 2013: See the helpful comment below.)

Spencer Place Baptist Chapel
Spencer Place Baptist Chapel

According to the somewhat worn plaque, the foundation stone of this demure little building in Spencer Place was laid in 1868. Its founders perhaps expected it to endure until Judgement Day, but it is no longer a church. It has been turned to business use with a flat at the top, no doubt a more recent extension. It retains the quiet dignity of its Victorian design.

The bandstand, Northampton Square
The bandstand, Northampton Square

On a damp and very cold day like today, it is not surprising to find the parks, and even the streets, deserted. This garden is in Northampton Square.

Memorial drinking fountain
Memorial drinking fountain

This somewhat battered drinking fountain may not look much (though the tap produces water) but it in fact tells us the origins of the garden. The face you can see in the photo states that the garden was opened “for the use of the public” in 1885 by Lady Margaret Georgiana Graham, the daughter of the Marquess of Northampton.

Memorial to Charles Clement Walker
Memorial to Charles Clement Walker

Of more interest, perhaps, is the inscription on the other side of the fountain. It is now hard to decipher but reads as follows:

This public garden has been laid out and completed at the sole cost of Charles Clement Walker Esquire: of Lilleshall Old Hall Shropshire:
One of Her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the Counties of Salop and Stafford, a native of the Parish of Clerkenwell, for the free use of the inhabitants thereof for health, recreation and enjoyment.
And in affectionate remembrance of his mother Agnes Walker, long resident in the parish.
1885.

Having enriched himself through industry begun in his native Clerkenwell, Walker gave money to charity and public works. He also laid out Wilmington Gardens.

Old Middlesex Sessions House
Old Middlesex Sessions House, Clerkenwell Green

Justice
Justice

If you didn’t know the purpose of this building, the round cartouche containing the beautifully sculpted representation of Justice would afford you a pretty strong clue. It was once the Middlesex Sessions House, a busy court, which included accommodation for resident judges and cells for prisoners awaiting trial. Today it is a conference centre.

Holborn Union Offices 1886
Holborn Union Offices 1886

This recalls one of the unhappier memories of the Victorian era. “Union” was often a synonym for the workhouse, where destitute unemployed debtors worked hard for their keep in conditions that we might today consider unnecessarily harsh. I am not sure whether this building actually was a workhouse itself, or just offices for the Holborn Union that ran a number of such establishments. We should be happy that the workhouse, along with the debtors’ prison, is now a thing of the past.

Cannon Brewery
Cannon Brewery

It was cold and my hands were beginning to ache, so we decided to catch the 153 at the stop opposite the Cannon Brewery in St John Street. In the 19th century this was one of the busiest breweries in the country and, if you look at the road surface under the archway, you will see traces of the ruts worn by the horse-drawn drays.

The Clerkenwell area contains many interesting sights, buildings and artifacts. We find new things every time we explore. I have shown only a fraction of the photos I took today, thinking this account already long enough!

Dancing among rubbish, Coman House, Finsbury Estate
Dancing among rubbish, Coman House, Finsbury Estate

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, http://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Out and About | Tagged | 6 Comments

Sheffield and Heeley

As usual, Tigger has taken the early train, leaving me to catch up later with my off-peak ticket. We keep in touch via the IM (instant messenger) function on our Blackberry phones. Thus, as my train sets out from St Panras, I know that Tigger has left Derby and will soon reach Sheffield. I am due there myself at 11:52.

I left home with time to walk to the station but checked the indicator at the bus stop and waited for the 214 which dropped me in front of the station with 20 minutes to spare.

Sheffield trains leave from the upper level of St Pancras
Sheffield trains leave from the upper level of St Pancras

Sheffield trains leave from the upper level of St Pancras which is also where the Eurostar platforms are. The Eurostar service is self-contained and segregated from the rest but we often encounter francophone train staff in their characteristic navy blue costume with the yellow Eurostar logo emblazoned on it. We also meet them in the local cafes enjoying a “full English breakfast”!


My train has left on time. Reserved seats are obligatory on this service and an announcement instructed us to sit in our assigned seats. I preferred an unreserved seat at the end of the carriage, however, and the ticket inspector has not remarked on the fact.

A pause at Loughborough
A pause at Loughborough

The weather is dull and the sky overcast but it is not raining at least. Strange how a few drops of water can conspire to spoil an outing. Knowing that temperatures are likely to be lower in the north (and having read of snow on blogs in the region), I have reverted to my winter wear: longjohns and my thick red fleece jerkin. I have also swapped my scarf for my “ninja”, as Tigger calls it, a sort of double-layed fleece collar that covers my neck and can be pulled up to cover my mouth.

The curved entry into Derby station
The curved entry into Derby station

As I am writing these words, we run out from under the heavy overcast into a region of lighter clouds with patches of blue sky between them. There is even a pale sunlight in places.


By the time we speed through Wellingborough, the sun is shining steadily and the sky is blue with only light cloud cover but Tigger, by now waiting for the FreeBee free bus in Sheffield, tells me it is freezing cold there. I was right to dress warmly.

Arriving at Chesterfield with its twisted spire
Arriving at Chesterfield with its twisted spire

At 10:23, Tigger tells me the job is done. She can go sightseeing until my train arrives at 11:52. I note that as we progress northwards, though the sun is still shining, patches of frost are becoming more common. The land is waterlogged too.


Sheffield's famous water feature, frozen in places
Sheffield’s famous water feature, frozen in places

When I rejoined Tigger at Sheffield, the sun was shining brightly but it was freezing cold, as she had told me. Literally, as it happens: parts of the famous water feature were frozen solid.

It used to be said that Sheffield was a “mucky picture in a golden frame”, meaning that the grimy industrial city was set in beautiful countryside. The beautiful countryside is still there but Sheffield itself is no longer mucky. Today it is a clean and handsome city.

Looking down Howard Street to the Cholera Monument on the hill
Looking down Howard Street to the Cholera Monument on the hill

Walking up Howards Street from the station, look back and you can see the Cholera Monument, commemorating the cholera outbreak of 1832 when at least 400 people died. The Duke of Norfolk provided land needed for burials and that that is where the memorial stands.

Sheffield's Millennium Gallery
Sheffield’s Millennium Gallery

As usual, our first call was at the cafe-restaurant in the Millennium Museum Gallery for a lunch of vegetarian fish and chips. (The “fish” is deep fried halloumi cheese – delicious!) After lunch, we set out for the bus station but a couple of sights caught our attention along the way.

"Heavy Plant" (1988) by David Kemp
“Heavy Plant” (1988) by David Kemp

In a car park, we came across this structure and, of course, went for a look. Knowing my opinion of much modern “art” you may be expecting some pejorative comments but I was intrigued by this piece perhaps because it contained some recognizable items. It is “Heavy Plant” by David Kemp.

Elements-Fire-Steel (1965) by Brian Asquith
“Elements-Fire-Steel” (1965) by Brian Asquith

Another piece, which seems like a strange logo or hieroglyph written by an alien race, is today sited on a wall of the Sheffield Hallam University. The direct sunlight somehow increased its appeal. (Did I say “appeal”? I must be becoming mellow in my old age!) It is “Elements-Fire-Steel” by Brian Asquith.

Towers and skyroglyphs
Towers and skyroglyphs

I also noticed that the beautiful blue winter sky was serving as a canvas for aircraft to write their own kind of hieroglyphs – or perhaps “skyroglyphs”?

Sheffield Bus Station
Sheffield Bus Station

Despite these distractions, we at last reached the bus station where Tigger scanned the timetables to find which bus would take us to Heeley. On her last visit, she had noticed that there was something at Heeley that she thought I would like to see. So off we went.

Heeley, welcoming... but freezing
Heeley, welcoming but freezing

Heeley was welcoming enough but was freezing cold, colder even than the city. There were stretches of frosty ground and most of the water we encountered was frozen. Nothing daunted, however, we pressed on.

Sheep, Heeley City Farm
Sheep, Heeley City Farm

We had come to see the Heeley City Farm, which also includes an environmental visitor centre. The young man we spoke to seemed disappointed that we didn’t want to see the environmental exhibits but – well, sorry – I had come to see the animals!

Brown goat

I am somewhat equivocal about city farms, which are often run in cramped conditions, but I think that a well run one can be a valuable asset to education, especially in an era when we hear that many school children apparently do not even know where milk comes from.

Charlie

There were people about, but they seemed to be youngsters drafted in to help with the work. No one bothered us but, equally, no one offered to show us around or tell where things were. There was no sign of the advertised cafe.

Curiosity

I was glad to see that the inmates seemed comfortable and well fed. They were alert and curious, which is always a good sign. The goat on the right in the above photo took a determined lick at my handbag just to see what it tasted like!

Portrait

There were not only sheep and goats, of course. We saw cows, horses, pigs and some chicks in a heated incubator.

Heifers

The problem was that the lighting was poor and the animals active so it was hard to get photos that weren’t blurred, as you can see from the slightly blurred heifers above. I was not going to use flash and risk dazzling them.

Vegetable garden

There was also a vegetable garden though there was not much to see in it – not surprising, given the time of year.

A view from Myrtle Road, Heeley
A view from Myrtle Road, Heeley

We caught a bus in Myrtle Road, and this took us back to the centre of Sheffield. We were booked on the 15:47 train to St Pancras and had a little time to fill in before returning to the station.

Sun worshipper
Sun worshipper

A visit to the Graves Gallery in the Central Library building is usually a good way to spend some time but today it was closed. We went all the way up in the lift until we thought to read the notices posted everywhere! At least I had a chance to scare myself by looking down the deep stair well! (See Not the best way to go to Sheffield.) We made do with photographing this mysterious but attractive sculpture on the front of the building.

Tudor Square
Tudor Square

So we walked back up to Tudor Square and entered a certain coffee-vending establishment which you can no doubt make out in the photo. The elegant towers you can also see belong to the handsome Sheffield Town Hall.

Mirror with spoon frame
Mirror with spoon frame

In the coffee shop is this unusual mirror with a frame of spoons, made by Adhocmetal.co.uk and referring to Sheffield’s proud history as a city of steel and cutlery.

Having partaken of a beverage, we returned down the hill again via Howard Street to the station. As usual (because we have to buy tickets separately), our reserved seats were not together, but, as usual, we found a pair of unreserved ones and settled in comfortably for our journey back to St Pancras.

Modern Sheffield is a delightful city and I enjoy my visits there, finding that memories of the past are being enhanced by new discoveries and happy experiences in the present. Today’s highlight was seeing, photographing and touching the animals on the city farm but future visits will, I am sure, produce their own highlights.

Contented

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, http://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

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A squirrel and a journey

When I went to meet Tigger in Borough earlier today, I passed in front of a block of flats where they have recently planted some trees or shrubs with stakes to hold them steady. On top of one of the stakes was this fellow:

Squirrel photo 1

A moment later, he started down the pole:

Squirrel photo 2

and I then realized that someone had hung a bag of peanuts on the infant tree:

Squirrel photo 3

So, he would go down and collect a peanut then run back up to the top to eat it or…

Squirrel photo 4

eat it on the ground, which is good too! But…

Squirrel photo 5

eating on top of the pole…

Squirrel photo 5a

is best of all!


Now, what about the journey? Well, on Tuesday last week (January 11th), Tigger got a courier run to Sheffield and, naturally, I wanted to go too. Unfortunately, when we tried to buy train tickets on Monday evening, all the cheap ones had gone. I felt that the price I was offered was just too high so I stayed at home, participating in Tigger’s trip by email and Blackberry instant messenger.

So, when Tigger got another trip to Sheffield for this Friday (tomorrow), I was determined not to miss out. As soon as we knew about it we went for tickets. Rail fares have gone up recently and I didn’t manage to get as good a price as I used to but I decided to take it anyway.

After the mild spell that we enjoyed at the end of last week, the weather has become colder again and if it’s cold in London, I don’t doubt it’s going to be brass monkey weather in Sheffield. So I will be dressing up in full winter gear just to be on the safe side.

I will report on our trip in due course. I am very fond of Sheffield and there is plenty to see and do indoors on a cold day, so we should be able to keep ourselves entertained.

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, http://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in SilverTiger | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

A look at St Pancras Old Church

I went to Camden Town today to buy cat food and on the way the bus passed St Pancras Old Church. I decided then that on the way back I would take a look at this interesting site as I had not yet visited it. But first, a short diversion.

As the subject of underground public toilets was raised in yesterday’s post and as there is a very good example of the species still in working order in Camden Town, I took the opportunity to bring you a photo thereof. (The angle of the sun was a little unfortunate, as you can see.)

Underground Gents' Toilet, Camden Town
Underground Gents’ Toilet, Camden Town

Accessed by tiled or concrete steps surrounded on three sides by iron railways, these traditional subterranean toilets have been bringing relief and comfort to citizens for many generations. Unfortunately, they are an endangered species, as councils are closing them in order to save money.

Where they exist, they are usually supervised by an operative who keeps the place clean and in good order. They are rather Spartan establishments where one is not encouraged to linger. In fact, the gents’ toilet shown displays a notice reading “NO LOITERING”. Some are notable for the antiquity and relative elegance of their fittings but all serve a useful purpose.

The female of the species
The female of the species

The days when “spending a penny” was a literal euphemism for going to the toilet have departed for ever. As council financed public toilets become extinct, a new generation has arrived on the scene. Clean, well lit and provided with modern facilities, they charge a 20p or 30p entry fee but are well worth the money.

The Camden Stores (1924) built by brewers Truman Hanbury Buxton
The Camden Stores (1924) built by brewers Truman Hanbury Buxton,
now a modern style Indian restaurant

I usually take the tube back to the Angel but today I took the bus which dropped me off close to St Pancras Old Church. This was the original St Pancras Church but became “old” when a new church was built to replace it.

One of two gates to St Pancras Old Church grounds
One of two gates to St Pancras Old Church grounds

You enter the site by one of two elaborate iron gates with gilded decorations. What was the church’s burial ground, and still contains tombs, is today called St Pancras Gardens.

The Burdett-Coutts Memorial Sundial
The Burdett-Coutts Memorial Sundial

Straight ahead of you, up a broad flight of steps, is the Burdett-Coutts Memorial Sundial, unveiled in 1879 by Baroness Burdett-Coutts who after her death in 1906 was buried in Westminster Abbey in recognition of her philanthropic works.

Soane Family Mausoleum
Soane Family Mausoleum

Most of the grave stones have been removed, as is common in ancient cemeteries turned into parks, but the more elaborate tombs have been left in place. These are the resting places of famous people. The tomb above was designed by Sir John Soane on the death of his wife and contains the bodies of himself, his wife and his son. Sir John was the architect who designed, among other things, the Bank of England and the Dulwich Art Gallery.

St Pancras Church Garden, general view
St Pancras Church Garden, general view

After all the rain recently, the ground was muddy and stepping off the path to get a better perspective for a photo needed caution.

The Hardy Tree
The Hardy Tree

This tree is named the Hardy Tree in honour of the novelist Thomas Hardy who worked here during the 1860s. There was a plan to put a railway line through the burial ground and Hardy supervised the removal of gravestones and disinterred bodies to make way for it.

Gravestones stacked around the tree
Gravestones stacked around the tree

In the event, protests caused the railway line not to be built but by then these gravestones had been stacked around the base of the tree that came to be known as the Hardy Tree.

St Pancras Old Church
St Pancras Old Church

It is claimed that this is one of the oldest Christian sites in Britain and a Saxon altar has been found. There is little doubt that many churches have succeeded one another here. By 1847, however, the existing church was ruinous but it was thought worth rebuilding in its present form. I think is is a pretty and well balanced design.

Entrance area
Entrance area

The church is made quite welcoming. The traditional wooden doors were left open with shop-style glass doors to keep the heat in. The entrance area was unchurchlike, more like a club room.

Church interior
Church interior

The interior of the church is more traditional but light and airy with a modern look. It gives the impression of being a church that is loved and well tended by its flock.

The altar with a creche still on display
The altar with a creche still on display

There were two visitors to the church while I was there but I did not see any staff, either a priest or a lay employee. Either this is a quiet area or they are very trusting (or both).

Memorial to Willam Platt and Mary, his wife, née Hungerford
Memorial to Willam Platt and Mary, his wife, née Hungerford

This memorial caught my eye. At first sight it looks like a normal memorial to a man and his wife. William died in 1637 and Mary survived him, marrying again, and dying in 1687 at the age of 86. Why, then, is she memorialized with her first husband?

Looking back towards the entrance
Looking back towards the entrance

In the entrance I met a man who introduced himself as Tom. He told me that he was a rough sleeper but that he hoped to have a place of his own in two weeks. I saw that he was clean and his clothes were clean and fresh. I assumed he must be living in a hostel.

We talked about the church and agreed that even for us unbelievers, churches hold an historic interest. He seemed to me an intelligent and balanced personality with an optimistic outlook despite his experiences. He took leave of me politely and I wished him well. It felt somehow appropriate that I would have this encounter while on an exploratory mission.

This building dates from 1886
This building is also on the site and appears to be used as offices. A plaque informs us that the foundation stone was laid on December 5th 1886.

Here are some sources of information on St Pancras Old Church that you may find useful:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Pancras_Old_Church
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=64866
http://www.victorianweb.org/art/architecture/london/77.html

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, http://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

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Fitzrovia

Finding ourselves in town for an appointment, we afterwards took the opportunity to go for an exploratory stroll in the area around Fitzroy Street and Fitzroy Square. This forms the heart of what today is called Fitzrovia, bounded by the four roads Oxford Street (south), Euston Road (north), Gower Street (east) and Great Portland Street (west).

Fitzrovia (A indicates Fitzroy Square)
Fitzrovia ( indicates Fitzroy Square)

Once a quarter known for artists, writers and craftsmen, today it is the domain of media and TV companies, advertising and magazine publishing. There are still some interesting things to be seen, however.

The house of Francisco de Miranda, Grafton Way
The house of Francisco de Miranda, Grafton Way

We entered Fitzrovia through Grafton Way, which was once known as Grafton Street and Upper Grafton Street (that might be worth a few points in a pub quiz!), where we found this house, once occupied (1803-10) by General Francisco de Miranda who fought for the independence of Venezuela. A plaque in English and Spanish gives a brief account of his exploits but you may find more information here and here.

Carlton House
Carlton House

There is  not a narrative to this post. I will simply show you some of the interesting or pretty things I noticed, such as this building, Carlton House, on the corner of Whitfield Street and Grafton Way.

Marie Stopes' clinic, Whitfield Street
Marie Stopes’ clinic, Whitfield Street

Marie Stopes’ clinic moved to Whitfield Street in 1925 and seems to be going strong still today. Standing outside was a silly religious objector handing out leaflets. Tigger gave expression to her thoughts to the woman in a few well chosen phrases.

The BT Tower looms over the scene
The BT Tower looms over the scene

The BT Tower looms over the scene here: every time you turn around, it’s there, waiting to get into your photographs.

Fitzroy Square
Fitzroy Square

Fitzroy Square is an elegant square with a central garden and early and later Georgian terraces around it. The south terrace was destroyed in WWII but has been replaced.

Francisco de Miranda
Francisco de Miranda

Within sight of the Square, standing on a plinth just inside Fitzroy Street, we find Francisco de Miranda once more, this time in the form of a handsome bronze sculpture.

Later Georgian houses, Fitzroy Square
Later Georgian houses, Fitzroy Square

One of the streets leading out of Fitzroy Square is today called Conway Street. At least, the name plate says so. Yet just beneath that sign, I found one belonging to the house which spelt it Conwey.

Conway Street Conwey Street
Conway or Conwey?

Is this a spelling mistake or was the street name once spelt differently? I haven’t yet been able to find out.

Porlock House, Great Titchfield Street
Porlock House, Great Titchfield Street

In Great Titchfield Street, there is a large and somewhat impressive apartment block (I do not know its age and mean to check further) with several front doors, each with its own name, like Porlock House, above. What struck me was the odd punctuation (a comma between the name and the word “House”). An illiterate sculptor? An eccentric owner?

Cavendish House, New Cavendish Street
Cavendish House, New Cavendish Street

So on to New Cavendish Street, built in 1775, where this building still proudly carries an elegant plaque commemorating its founding date in 1894.

Langham Court Hotel
Langham Court Hotel

In Langham Street, this striking hotel, Langham Court Hotel, has a rather eastern look to it.

Public toilet or studio?
Public toilet or studio?

In Foley Street, outside the Crown and Sceptre pub, we found this strange structure. What is it? It was obviously once a public toilet. There are still plenty of examples of this traditional form of public convenience, built underground and accessible by steps, surrounded by railings. Many of them have been closed, some built over, others simply locked up and abandoned, much to the annoyance of the public.

Intricate iron work
Intricate iron work

Some have been converted to other purposes. As was this one, though it is hard to see now what that purpose was. I think I can read the word “Studio” on the board at the top, but I can’t make out anything else. Incidentally, Gommes Forge, who apparently made the decorative superstructure, still exists and is a firm with a long history.

T J Boulting's factory T J Boulting, mosaic 1 T J Boulting, mosaic 2
T.J. Boulting’s factory 1903

In the intriguingly named Riding House Street, is the factory of T.J. Boulting. The elegant mosaics tell us that the company was founded in 1808 but the date plaque indicates that the building was put up in 1903. Where was the company originally? When did it die? What was its history? There is no doubt an interesting story to discover.

Chained pushchair
Chained pushchair

A little further along Riding House Street, I was amused to see this pushchair chained to the railings. Perhaps there’s not enough room in their flat for it or perhaps they would have to drag it up several flights of stairs, so instead they chain it here, at least during the day.

Heal's department store
Heal’s department store

Then, suddenly, we were in Tottenham Court Road, having followed a circular path. Soon we had a bus back to the Angel.

There is so much history in London that a walk almost anywhere will discover its traces, many of them beautiful, all of them interesting and evocative.

Relief, Great Portland Street
Relief, Great Portland Street

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, http://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Out and About | Tagged | 10 Comments

A quiet visit to a damp sculpture

The weather continues dull and wet. Around lunchtime, the rain paused and I went out. I had ordered tea by post and, of course, when they tried to deliver it last Thursday, I was out. This meant a trip to the sorting office in Almeida Street.

Chapel Market
Chapel Market

I cut through Chapel Market in order to avoid the main road as much as possible. Monday is the one day of the week when the market does not operate and the street looks like any other town street except for the stall locations painted on the ground.

At this point, my left hearing aid went dead and then started bleeping. This meant that the battery had run out and need replacing. In the end, I took both hearing aids out and put them in my handbag to sort out later. This made the world a quieter place, which was quite pleasant.

Battishill Gardens, Napier Terrace entrance
Battishill Gardens, Napier Terrace entrance

After picking up my box of tea, I went across the road to Napier Terrace, just to see what, if anything, was there. What was there was one of the entrances to Battishill Gardens.

I have already written about this little park and its sculpture – see A discovery. I had been startled to find a sculpted frieze by the early Victorian sculptor Musgrave Lewthwaite Watson (1804-47) there. (See A discovery for details.)

Frieze by Musgrave Lewthwaite Watson
Frieze by Musgrave Lewthwaite Watson

Maybe it was the dull light and the wet conditions, but the frieze looked even more overgrown and neglected than when I last came here. It badly needs a clean and some loving care.

The leftmost panel
The leftmost panel

It is all the more odd, given that other works by this artist are displayed in prominent places and are being looked after.

The gardens are wet and muddy
The gardens are wet and muddy

The gardens, which offer a welcome green area among streets of houses, are not looking their best at the moment. The ground is wet and muddy and there are even lumps of mud on the benches though I cannot imagine why.

Squirrel on a cold church roof
Squirrel on a cold church roof

Back on Upper Street, I spotted this squirrel scampering about on the bare roof of the Unity Church. I can’t imagine what he might have been looking for – or was he just having fun?

The Old Parr's Head
The Old Parr’s Head

This building makes a colourful splash on a dull day. It is an old Victorian pub but these days accommodates a fashion boutique. The name is by no means uncommon in London and probably refers to Thomas “Old Tom” Parr, who is said to have been born in 1483 and to have died aged 152 years, having lived through the reigns of 10 monarchs.

St Mary's Church
St Mary’s Church

I have photographed the above building many times too. As I was taking this photo, a bus came along. I had seconds to make up my mind whether to jump on the bus and go home or whether to continue walking. The weather was not propitious so the bus won.

Follow-up

Here is a follow-up to this article, concerning the background to Battishill Street Gardens: Battishill Street Gardens and the Gold Headed Cane.

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, http://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

Posted in Out and About | Tagged , | 4 Comments

A wharf and a saint

It has been a dull and wet week, not at all conducive to exploratory walks, let alone photography. On the plus tide, the temperature suddenly rose on Thursday, becoming quite mild. So today, following our traditional Friday omelette lunch, and despite the light rain, I decided to take a look at Hay’s Wharf, which I had had in mind to do for some time.

It's the Shard again
It’s the Shard again

I couldn’t resist taking yet another photo of the Shard, which continues to press skyward. The spike on its left is locally known as the Southwark Needle. It was erected in Portland stone for the Millennium and refers to the spikes that once stood here, at the southern end of London Bridge, on which were impaled the heads of executed criminals.

City of London Griffin
City of London Griffin

Near it stands this boundary marker with a griffin, the heraldic symbol of the City of London. All approaches to the City are marked by griffins.

No 1 London Bridge
No 1 London Bridge

Hay’s Wharf lies on the south bank of the Thames to the east of London Bridge. Access to the riverside path, known as The Queen’s Walk, is by two flights of stairs in front of this tall office building called simply “No 1 London Bridge”.

These steps are at an awkward angle
These steps are at an awkward angle

The second set of steps is at an angle to the direction of descent. This is awkward and you have to take care as you step down as it is easy to stumble.

Adelaide House and the Monument
Adelaide House and the Monument

Across the river from here you can see the Monument to the Great Fire of London with its gilded top and Adelaide House to its left. (More of these anon.) You might also be able to glimpse the spire of St Magnus the Martyr almost hidden by the latter building.

Billingsgate Market
Billingsgate Market

Further along is the building that was once the Billingsgate Fish Market, London’s main provider of fish, still sporting its gilded-dolphin weather vanes.

Hay's Wharf
Hay’s Wharf

Hay’s Wharf, founded 1651, was the oldest and largest wharf and stretched from London Bridge east to Tower Bridge. Much of the old frontage has been rebuilt though the building shown above and Hay’s Galleria further along, still remain. I have already mentioned the Galleria (for example, see here), which was the old dock, now filled in.

Hay's Wharf with London Bridge Hospital and No 1 London Bridge
Hay’s Wharf with London Bridge Hospital and No 1 London Bridge

The present Hay’s Wharf headquarters was built in fine Art Deco style in 1931. It is difficult to photograph because of the narrowness of the walkway but it is worth viewing from close up. London Bridge Hospital is to its left and on the right is the strange 3-legged-stool shape of No 1 London Bridge.

stolaveIf you pass under Hay’s Wharf by the path beside the car park, you reach Tooley Street where Hay’s Wharf displays its other name, Olaf House. It is named after the Saint-King Olave or Olaf of Denmark, who is represented on the corner of the building by a pretty line drawing, filled in with gold.

St Olaf House
St Olaf House

If you look at the top row of windows, you may notice something odd. Among the 5 rectangular windows two non-rectangular windows are intercalated. They have an asymmetrical design. This close-up may show it better.

Asymmetrical window design
Asymmetrical window design

This creates an optical illusion: each window looks as if it a 3-D object, like a fish tank or lantern, with one vertical edge turned to the outside. A clever and amusing decoration.

Entrance to St Olaf House
Entrance to St Olaf House

This is the ornate and colourful entrance to St Olaf House. I couldn’t think of an excuse to go in but I would have liked to do so as I guess that the lobby must also be worth a look.

London Bridge from Hay's Wharf
London Bridge from Hay’s Wharf

There have been many bridges on the site of the modern London Bridge and the history of all these bridges is fascinating but too long to go into here. The present bridge is relatively young, having been opened by the Queen in 1973. Many tourists (and, I’m sorry to say, some Britons), mistake Tower Bridge for London Bridge. The real London Bridge is not very striking to look at but is one of London’s busiest bridges.

Adelaide House
Adelaide House

Adelaide House, at the north end of London Bridge, has always had its fans and its detractors. It is disliked for its sheer size (but in comparison with the latest rash of building projects in the capital, it is of modest height) and because it wraps around and hides the church of St Magnus the Martyr.

The façade of Adelaide House
The façade of Adelaide House

The façade is almost dizzyingly broad, characterized by a regular pattern of stylized flowers. Built in 1925, Adelaide House was then the tallest office block in London and the first to have air-conditioning and a roof-top putting green. Personally, I think it is a pleasanter building than its detractors make out.

Sculpted figure, Adelaide House
Sculpted figure, Adelaide House

This sculpted figure above the entrance of Adelaide House is by Sir William Reid Dick. She holds a globe and looks meditative or gloomy, depending on your point of view. The figure seems to me to have a certain serenity.

The Monument
The Monument

Close by Adelaide House is the Monument to the Great Fire of London, known to Londoners simply as “the Monument”. Designed by Wren, assisted by his friend Robert Hooke, the final design, which includes at the top a flaming urn of gilt bronze, was built in 1671-7. Made of Portland stone, it is, at 61.5 metres high, the tallest unsupported stone column in the world. The Monument can be visited, as long as you don’t mind walking up a spiral staircase of 311 steps.

When you reach the viewing gallery, you will find yourself caged in. This is because a total of 6 persons committed suicide by jumping from here, the first, a baker, in 1788 and the last, a housemaid, in 1842.

I think that I, like James Boswell who visited in 1762, would find the experience daunting. I have yet to try it.

Ducks dabbling at low tide near London Bridge
Ducks dabbling at low tide near London Bridge

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