Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Camden to Regents Park

Camden Town is an area north of Euston Station and takes it’s name from the first Earl Camden who acquired the land in 1749. If you want to escape the noise and mayhem of the crowded weekend market at Camden Lock then use Regents Canal. The canal was opened in 1820 and links Paddington Basin to the Thames at Limehouse. Not used for industrial traffic since 1969 but most of the towpath still survives and provides walks to such places as Little Venice, but that’s another ‘walk’ altogether

Leave the towpath at Cumberland basin as the canal turns sharp right with Feng Shang floating restaurant to your left. Up the steps to Prince Albert Road and you are in Regents Park, close to London Zoo.

Regents Park covers 410 acres and is one of London’s major open spaces. A competition was held in 1811 to produce a plan for the area and avoid the encroachment of buildings onto the fields due to the rise in the local population. It was won by John Nash and with support from the Prince Regent, later George IV, work began in 1812. The work was never completed and only eight of the fifty six planned villas were built.

The park includes an open air theatre, London Zoo, cafes and restaurants.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Bethnal Green to Liverpool Street Station

This walk takes you from the heart of the East End and into the “City”

Arrive at Bethnal Green Tube Station, which is at the junction of Bethnal Green Road and Roman Road in the East End of London. Close by is the V&A Museum of Childhood and in Paradise Row the home of former English boxing champion and creator of “The Art of Boxing” the pugilist Daniel Mendoza 1764 – 1836.
This end of Bethnal Green Road contains a rough and ready street market selling all sorts of stuff you need at prices everyone can afford. Walk on past undertakers W. English & Son, last resting place of both
Ronnie & Reggie Kray and you will soon arrive at E. Pellicci possibly the greatest cafe in London. This classic Italian cafe has achieved Grade II listed status from English Heritage for its stunning art deco panelled interior. Almost as good as the tea & coffee.

On past Vallance Road, the home of the Krays during the 60’s and then left into Brick Lane and the famous Biegel Bake. This place is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is always busy. There can be a queue twenty deep at 3 o’clock in the morning with cabs arriving for take away orders. Don’t expect to find a seat as they want you in and out as they have too many customers to serve. Freshly prepared Salt Beef and Smoke Salmon biegels are always available but a nice freshly baked loaf is always worth buying.

Carry on past the Truman Brewery and the former home of the abolitionist Sir Thomas Foxwell Buxton – 1786 – 1845. This part of Brick Lane is a vibrant mix of late night bar’s and busy Bengali restaurants as well as the excellent Rough Trade records store. Further on and you arrive at Furnier Street , which contains perfectly preserved 18th century town houses. They were built for French Huguenot merchants in the 1720’s. The streets most famous residents now are George & Gilbert.

At the junction of Furnier Street and Commercial Road is the stunning Christ Church Spitalfields, built by Nicolas Hawksmoor in 1724-29. This masterpiece was left to rot for over 30 years but has now been fully restored to it’s former glory. Galleries run along the north and south aisles and the stained glass windows were designed by Ward and Hughes of Soho Square in 1876. The church organ is still to be restored and it is thought to have once been played by the composer Handel. The ceiling is a mixture of plaster flowers none of which are identical as a reflection of the congregation below. The floor was laid in 2004 from five types of stone and contains a fossilised fish in one of the slabs.

Opposite Christ Church is the Ten Bells pub from where Jack the Ripper selected his last victim. Across Commercial Road and in to Spitalfields Market where the old East End meets the new, brash financial City of London. Market stalls soon give way to shinny restaurants frequented by workers from the local banks and financial institutions.

Liverpool Street Station is one of London’s busiest serving 123 millions travellers each year. It has
main line and underground connections.

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