Saturday, 28 August 2010


This blog once bemoaned the fact that there are no great songs about London to compare with Jay-Z’s, Empire State of Mind and I guess this clip proves the point. But could Alicia Keys belt out an opening line with as much gusto as Sid James “Oh, Oh, Oh....”. Tony may have left his heart in San Francisco and Frank wanted to make it in New York but it’s the happy, laughing, razor slashed faces of the people of Bermondsey that tug at Sid’s heart strings. The clip also provides a small glimpse of a fully working dock in the Pool of London that has now disappeared.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Saturday, 7 August 2010

The Shard from the Mayflower

These pictures are taken from the jetty of the Mayflower pub in Rotherhithe. The Shard keeps growing but is still only a third of it's eventual height. It is starting to impose itself on old familiar skylines such as this from the Mayflower.

A Thames barge sails past heading east to the sea.

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Columbia Market

Columbia Flower Market is in the East End of London on Columbia Road.

Originally built as a Victorian gothic folly by the banking heiress Angela Burdett-Coutts in 1869 it opened as a fish market. It was never popular with the costermongers as she imposed rules on working on Sunday and expected them to “be sober, be vigilant, be pitiful, be courteous”. It was never going to work and they started trading in the street. The building was demolished in 1958.

The East Ends interest in flowers is thought to stem from the immigrant Huguenot community. They were also fascinated with bird song and there is a pub in Columbia Road called The Birdcage.

The market originally opened on a Saturday but this changed to Sunday due to the growing Jewish population. This allowed Covent Garden and Spitalfield traders to use the market to sell off their left over’s. The area went into decline during the war as food production took priority and the area was due for demolition in the 70’s. Fortunately it was saved by the local’s and is once again a thriving Sunday market.

The Victorian houses and shops are now home to a diverse range of traders that include coffee shops, vintage clothing shops and art galleries.

This must be the only place in London where you can buy lavender for a “fiver with free bees thrown in”.

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Sunday, 1 August 2010

St Alfege’s, Greenwich

St Alfege’s Church was built by Nicholas Hawksmoor in 1711 – 1718 to replace the previous church that had been destroyed by a storm in 1710. It was the christening place of Henry VIII in 1491 and stands on the spot where St Alfege, appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 1005, was murdered by Danish invaders for refusing to pay ransom money that would have saved his life.

The interior of the church was destroyed by German bombing in 1941 during the Blitz and restored in 1952 by Albert Richardson. I’m sure the restoration work is a faithful imitation of the original but the interior feels new and at odd’s with its exterior.

The church has been turned back to front. The east end, where these cherubs stand, slowing being destroyed by the pollution from Greenwich High Road, was originally the front entrance but access to St Alfege's is now from the west.

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