Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Sunday, 8 March 2009
Walk east from the Millennium Wheel, keeping the River Thames to your left, away from County Hall, The Houses of Parliament and the huge Shell complex. Under Hungerford Bridge onto the South Bank Centre. Here you will find The Hayward Gallery, National Film Theatre, Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, an overabundance of skate boarders and many places to eat and drink. There is always something happening at the South Bank. Of particular interest is the South Bank Book Market, which is under Waterloo Bridge.
There is also a fine view of Victoria Embankment, on the north side of the Thames that includes Temple and the spires of Wren churches. Unfortunately it also includes many cranes as the numerous developments being built can give London the look and feel of a construction site. It can look as though London is not yet finished.
On past the National Theatre until you come to Gabriel’s Wharf and the Oxo Tower, which have both been successfully renovated by Coin Street Community Builders. The Oxo Tower takes its name from the glass windows in the tower. Designed in the 1920’s by architect Albert Moore, he designed the tower to incorporate the brand name 'Oxo' into the towers window to get around the ban on sky advertising.
Then you arrive at the Tate Modern, Millennium Bridge and the Globe, which are world renown and don’t need me to describe how spectacular they are. Sandwiched between the Globe Theatre and the monolithic Tate is a 17th century house named Cardinal’s Wharf. This was thought to be the lodgings of Sir Christopher Wren in 1670’s and 1680’s while supervising the building of St Paul’s Cathedral on the opposite side of the Thames. It is now thought to be the site of the long demolished Cardinal’s Hatte a well known brothel as the area was a notorious red light district. I assume that Wren, surrounded by bear and bull baiting pits, dingy taverns and gambling dens only had eyes for his masterpiece rising above the London sky line.
Continuing east you pass the Anchor pub, Vinopolis, the Clinic Street Prison Museum and a replica of the Golden Hinde. You will then be in sight of the glorious gothic masterpiece that is Southwark Cathedral dating back to 1106. Any other city in the world would not allow such a work of art to be squeezed between modern office blocks, a railway line and the Borough fruit and veg market. But maybe that’s what makes London so special. These things are to be discovered not promoted.
Sunday, 1 March 2009
The museum contains various machines for killing people along with a replica of “Little Boy” the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Why anyone would want to see such a thing is beyond me but its there if you feel the need.
Opposite the museum, in St Georges Road, is St George’s Cathedral, a relatively modern building having been rebuilt in 1958 due to bomb damage caused during the Second World War. The original building, opened in 1848, was the site of the first Catholic Cathedral to be built after the Reformation. At 131 St Georges Road is the former home of George Myers – “Master Builder” who worked with Pugin the architect of the original Cathedral.
Further on along Westminster Bridge Road is an imposing tower block of luxury apartments now known as 100 Westminster Road. This was originally called Century House and from 1966 until 1995 was the home of MI6. That’s a secret. Don’t tell anyone.
Continue walking past Lambeth North Tube Station and turn right into Lower Marsh. Here you will find a proper street market selling loads of things you don’t want but at only a pound can not resist. Turn left into the tunnel that is Leake Street to the site of the once infamous Can Festival. All the original ‘Art’ work has now been sprayed over as it seems more important for street ‘artists’ to write their own name on walls rather than create something original. Despite this it’s still worth a look.