After work today we caught a bus to the London Bridge end of Tooley Street and walked on from there. The evenings are beginning to close in now and during our walk, the electric lights took over from daylight.
Tooley Street passes London Bridge station whose near neighbour is the intrusive monster called The Shard. This horror dominates Tooley Street as it dominates the whole area.
Window cleaners were at work, a common sight on the building these days as there is so much glass to keep clean. If you compare the two pictures, the size of the men compared with the size of the building shows its scale.
Currently hosting the Winston Churchill Britain at War Experience, this large building, sometimes called the “Flat iron” because of its wedge shape, was built in 1893 by and for the South Eastern Railway Company. Although this has been designated a Conservation Area and the building is considered one of its important landmarks, it is under threat from the expansion of the nearby London Bridge station, having failed to achieve listed status.
We walked to the river bank through Hay’s Galleria. Today this is a covered precinct lined with shops and eateries. It was opened in 1651 as Hay’s Wharf, the oldest and largest wharf in the Port of London. The central open area was then the dock, full of water, where ships came to load and unload their cargoes.
The dock would once have been open to the sky and the weather but today it is cosily protected by a steel and glass roof which follows the curve of the precinct. The roof was built as part of the regeneration project in 1982-6.
The hazy air and light of the setting sun lent a dramatic air to the scene outside, so that it appeared to me almost as a theatre backdrop or the background in a delicate painting, framed as it was by the ironwork of the Galleria.
As the sun declined, there was a play of light and shadows. Some buildings were catching the last rays while others were already sinking into darkness. You may be able to make out the Gherkin and the Heron Tower.
Here is the permanent berth of HMS Belfast, a Royal Navy warship that is now a museum ship under the auspices of the Imperial War Museum. It can be visited and is very popular with tourists.
Under powerful electric lights, there were still visitors aboard the ship. Note the large poppy on display, ready for Memorial Day, also known as Poppy Day.
In a prime riverside location stands this strangely shaped building, City Hall. It looks as though it is tipping over but that is just the design and it is solid enough. It is the headquarters of the Greater London Authority and the office of the Mayor of London. It opened in 2002.
Despite the cold and the gathering gloom, there were plenty of people about. Here where once the ships docked to load and unload is today a place for walking and taking photographs or relaxing in pubs and cafes.
If you compare the above view with the earlier riverside view, you can see how the light has changed in a relatively short time. Instead of reflecting the sunlight, buildings are now radiating their own light.
Carefully arranged lighting can have magical effects. The Tower of London with its grim history can look forbidding in the daylight but here it looks almost like an enchanted castle.
Completed in 1894, centuries after the Tower of London, Tower Bridge was designed to be sympathetic in style. The bridge, however, was an engineering marvel in its own right. Despite the heavy traffic that continually crosses back and forth, Tower Bridge still opens, sometimes several times a day, to allow taller ships to pass through. In the above photo you may be able to see an almost full moon sinking behind a bank of clouds.
For us, though, it was time to go up onto Tower Bridge Road and catch a bus back to Islington.