After work today, instead of going straight home, we went for a little ramble, starting in Borough Road, Southward. Here are some of the things we saw.
In Borough Road is the hotel pictured above. Today called simply The Bridge Hotel, it used to be known as The Bridge to China Town. It is unusual (at least I think so) in being a Muslim-run hotel and cafe restaurant. The previous name came from the fact that it originally included a Chinese restaurant. The Chinese menu has gone and the cafe today offers, among more conventional items, shawarma and shisha.
The Borough area contains a number of interesting residential buildings. The one above is Murphy House, of which only one end is shown. There is no date on it (and it doesn’t appear to be listed) but it looks as if it is late Victorian or Edwardian.
I like the rather romantic relief-work and even the slightly faded plants seem to be quite in tune with the design and atmosphere of the place.
Another important building is the local public library. When the idea of starting a library was mooted in the 1890s, it was decided that the parish could not afford it out of the penny rate. An advertisement was placed in the newspapers asking people to donate funds and John Passmore Edwards, the philanthropist, responded. He laid the foundation stone personally in 1898, the date noted on the name plaque. The library opened in the following year, 1899.
Before boroughs were created, the administrative district was the parish, and this area was contained within the Parish of St George the Martyr, hence the plaque of the knight on horseback abusing a dragon. A less bloody representation is that of Truth in a columned plaque on the library’s west façade.
Across the road at St George’s Circus, are to be found these false shop fronts. They are no more real than stage sets and the doors are not really doors.
There used to be genuine retail premises along here but the whole block is undergoing development and these artificial shopfronts are perhaps preferable to the traditional builders’ fences.
I saw this white bus, like a ghost, peering over a fence and, of course, had to investigate. I have seen “ghost bicycles” (white-painted machines placed where cyclists have suffered fatal accidents) but this was my first ghost bus.
By holding my camera above a fence (its fold-out preview screen comes in very useful in situations such as this), I was able to photograph the whole bus. It is painted white all over, except the wheels. I have no idea as to its purpose.
On a building in Blackfriars Road this plate is a memorial to 11 auxiliary firemen who died in wartime bombing in 1941. It’s a small enough tribute to firemen who did so much to save lives and property during the war and too often paid for their bravery with their lives.
I found this foundation stone standing by itself on a pedestal in an open area where once the Royal Eye Hospital stood. The stone was laid by the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII. It was presumably rescued from the rubble when the building of which is was part was demolished.
Further along we had a look at the Blackfriars Estate belonging to the Peabody Trust. Peabody estates were set up in the 1860s by London-based American banker George Peabody. Peabody provided money and also invited donations from others. The dwellings were intended for London’s poorer workers and 14 estates were eventually built in various parts of the city. By today’s standards, the apartments were small and lacking in facilities but were probably good for the period. The Peabody Trust is today run as a housing association. The environment within the courtyards is green and pleasant but I have no idea what it is like to live there.
We turned along Webber Street and came eventually to Waterloo and a most famous theatre, the Old Vic. Originally founded in 1818 as the Royal Coburg Theatre, it has come down to the modern day under the management of a series of famous names, including Emma Cons and Lilian Baylis. Damaged during WWII, it reopened in 1951 and remains one of London’s favourite theatres. The modern name derives its renaming as the Royal Victoria in 1833.
This beautiful face decorates another famous building nearby but I wonder how many people notice it as it is placed high up and is rather small, though it is quite striking. The building is the Royal Hospital for Children and Women. Founded in 1816 as the Universal Dispensary for Children, it became the Royal Infirmary for Children and Women in 1852 and, finally, in 1875, the Royal Hospital for Children and Women. It joined the NHS in 1948 as part of the St Thomas Hospital Group, but closed in 1976. The current facade dates from 1903-5 and bears a dedication to Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. (Listed Grade II.)
Tigger now kindly proposed taking me for dinner. That was not an offer I was likely to refuse! When she led the way towards the Southbank Centre, I guessed where we were heading.
The light was beginning to fade and the daytime population of employees was giving way to theatre-goers and merrymakers. There are plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants where people can relax and socialize.
My guess about our destination was correct. We found a table for two in Canteen and enjoyed a veggie stew with carrot cake to follow.
By the time we emerged, the sky had darkened. There was still enough light to see by and even take photographs but it was electric light. There was plenty of activity on the Southbank and therefore plenty of light.
There were food stalls, some run by the restaurants, others freelance.
There was also an Australian farmer (allegedly) entertaining (allegedly) an audience by doing things to sheep that I preferred not to enquire into.
There were more stalls down on the lower level near the embankment but we did not go down there this time.
We decided to turn for home, walking back to Waterloo station and there catching a bus. Thus ended our Friday evening ramble.