Omnipresent Shard

Tigger was able to leave work at midday today so I went down to meet her for lunch and a ramble. As usual, I started my journey at Angel tube station.

The long escalator, Angel tube station
The long escalator, Angel tube station

There are two escalators at this station and the photo show the top, longer one.  At 90 feet long with 318 steps, it is the longest escalator on the London Underground.

The Shard from Borough High Street
The Shard from Borough High Street

I collected Tigger and we walked along Borough High Street towards London Bridge. As you can see, it was a very dull day, partly because of the mist that shrouded the tops of taller buildings while leaving the air clear at street level.

A closer view of the monster
A closer view of the monster

Currently the tallest building in the UK, The Shard is destined to become the tallest in Europe at a height of 306 metres. It is the latest in a set of monster – or perhaps monstrous – high-rise developments in the capital which block out the light and turn the streets into windy canyons. Because of its huge size (and it has reached only about 75% of its final height), The Shard is visible from all over the City and keeps appearing when you least expect. The planners are not doing Londoners any favours by allowing these “carbuncles” to be built. No doubt money talks, as usual.

Cafe Riva
Cafe Riva

We stopped for lunch at Cafe Riva which belongs to the pleasant London City Hotel next to Borough tube station. The cafe was quiet today and the Christmas decorations created a cheerful atmosphere.

Strange conical Christmas tree, Hay's Galleria
Strange conical Christmas tree in Hay’s Galleria

After lunch, we went for a walk beside the Thames, and visited Hay’s Galleria, where, coming from the street, you are met by this strange conical Christmas tree. Previously known as Hay’s Wharf, the site has a history going back to the 1600s. It has been redeveloped as a shopping centre with restaurants.

Hay's Galleria
Hay’s Galleria

The Shard is visible even here: you can see it through the semi-circular window at the rear of the Galleria.

Visible even here: The Shard
Visible even here: The Shard

On the Thames, near to Hay’s Galleria, is moored HMS Belfast, once a naval battle cruiser, now a floating museum that can be visited by the public. It seems very popular with tourists and visitors to London.

Mooring for the Thames Clipper service
Mooring for the Thames Clipper service

We continued walking along the Thames towards London Bridge (in the background in the photo). This mooring is one of the stops for the Thames Clipper service, broad-hulled catamarans than take you on sight-seeing tours of the Thames. We went on such a trip ourselves back in August (see Riding the Thames).

Landmarks of the new London skyline
Landmarks of the new London skyline

From here you have a view of some of the other landmarks on the skyline of the new London: St Mary Axe, commonly known as The Gherkin (near the centre of the picture) and the Heron Tower to its left with the top hidden in mist. The Heron Tower was the second tallest building in London, after Canary Wharf, but both have now been dwarfed by The Shard.

The Shard dominating Southwark Cathedral
The Shard dominating Southwark Cathedral

West of London Bridge, the bank of the Thames is not accessible and we had to cut inland, passing by Southwark Cathedral. The contrast between the brash modernism of the Shard and the Gothic style of the cathedral (finished sometime around the 14th century) speaks for itself.

Palace of the Bishop of Winchester
Palace of the Bishop of Winchester

Another famous ecclesiastical building – or rather, its ruin – is to be seen here. It is the remains of the 12th century palace of the Bishop of Winchester. The Bishop owned much of the land around here and imposed his own law upon it, including the “stews” (brothels) and the prison, remembered as “The Clink”. The innocent beauty of the great rose window stands in contrast to the open corruption of the Church.

Borough Market
Borough Market

Our path brought us at last to the ancient and justly celebrated Borough Market. Known throughout the world for the excellence of its wares, the market is patronized equally by famous chefs and by ordinary folk who care about their food.

A market has stood here, below London Bridge, since before the 12th century. Inevitably, many changes have occurred in that time and the market has been modernized. Changes have been forced upon it by the need to add extra lines to London Bridge station which has for many years been causing a bottleneck in services. Borough Market will no doubt survive the changes and continue its strong tradition.

Looming over Borough Market
Looming over Borough Market

Did you think we had finally escaped The Shard? The above photo shows that we had not. Here it is, its top shrouded in mist, but still looming over the market and the whole area. It sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb already but will do so even more once it attains its final height.

As for us, we thought it was time to take the bus back to the Angel for a relaxing evening at home!

City heating systems adding to the mist
City heating systems adding to the mist

Copyright © 2010 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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6 Responses to Omnipresent Shard

  1. AEJ says:

    I think the shard is following you!

  2. WOL says:

    “St Mary Axe” — as interesting a name as “The Gherkin” — what is the purpose of this building? Business? Residential? I would imagine land costs in London are astronomical– when you can’t build out, up is where you go.

    • SilverTiger says:

      The Gherkin was built to replace the building called the Baltic Exchange which was badly damaged (and three people were killed) on April 10th 1992 when an IRA bomb was detonated in the street. The Gherkin was opened in 2004 and its postal address is 30 St May Axe.

      St Mary Axe was once the name of the local medieval parish but is now the name of the street in which the Gherkin stands.

      I think the Gherkin is occupied by businesses who rent office space on its 40 floors.

  3. Ed says:

    The tube in London definitely looks cleaner than the one in Paris… I was there this week and it’s getting worse !

    • SilverTiger says:

      Generally speaking, they do keep it clean. This is especially remarkable given that during the IRA’s bombing campaign, all rubbish bins were removed and were never replaced.

      If litter is left on platforms, it could be blown onto the track and this could cause breakdowns and delays, so London Underground is motivated to keep the place clean. That’s no mean task given that our tube is still the largest such system in the world, I believe.

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