Today was a slightly mixed day, as you will see. It started with a trip to Archway tube station and from there I walked up the hill to the Whittington Hospital to collect a new supply of batteries for my “dolbies” (hearing aids). On the way I noticed this building.
I had already walked past it many times but, for some reason, only really noticed it today. Perhaps the idea of a “friendly society” appealed to me.
I have to admit that I know next to nothing about the RLFS – or the Royal London Friendly Society For Granting Policies Of Insurance To The Working Classes, to give it its full title – except that it was around in the days of Charles Dickens.
Nor do I know the date of this building, though it looks Victorian to me. The door is nicely decorated but perhaps a little understated – perhaps they wanted to avoid overawing “the working classes” coming in for their insurance policies. Buildings belonging to the society survive in other parts of London and in other towns.
According to the cartouche above it, the other door gives access to Roydon Mansions, presumably living or office accommodation included in the original building to raise a little extra income.
I do know that the Friendly Society mutated (in 1908, I think) into the Royal London Mutual Insurance Society and is today part of the Royal London Group. The building is currently occupied by a firm of solicitors.
In the evening, we changed buses beside the Heron Tower and I was amused to see these window cleaners swinging from side to side as they washed the window frames. Their cables go all the way to the top of the tower, so that when they swing sideways they move almost horizontally.
It was interesting to see how each man arranged his kit differently and how they swung so nonchalantly from side to side, even sometimes crossing over one another.
Later we walked through Finsbury Square where the massive Britannia House forms the corner with City Road. We started photographing the sculptures that decorate the façade in such profusion.
We got thus far when we were challenged by a security man who shot out of a door to confront us.
“Why are you photographing the building?” he demanded to know.
“Er, because we like it,” I replied, not finding anything more convincing on the spur of the moment.
That seemed to satisfy him, however, and he explained that photographing a building was “a security issue”, though without explaining exactly how. He then asked if we would like brochures about the building and fetched one for each of us.
This ridiculous obsession with “security” is a modern form of social hysteria. What is silly is that you can click away happily if you use a pocket camera but if you use a “professional” camera, you will be often be challenged, whether by the police or by private security officers. This encounter ended peacefully, though, and we parted on amiable terms.