Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Shri Vallabh Nidhi Mandir Hindu Temple


London The Unfinished City
Shri Vallabh Nidhi Mandir Hindu Temple

Saturday September 11, 2021.

While wandering along Ealing Road, in Wembley, I was struck with the sheer craftmanship and architecture of this Hindu Temple.

Considering that the road is predominantly shops and housing along its length, give or take the odd surgery, a Mosque and Indian Community Centre, I was surprised to see this Temple, set back from the road.

London The Unfinished City
Shri Vallabh Nidhi Mandir Hindu Temple

Unfortunately, there were tents being setup, on the grounds, with vans and people coming and going, so I couldn't enter the grounds to get a closer look. However, it will be a place that I look forward to exploring, when I get the chance.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Alperton Garage Farewell Open Day


London The Unfinished City
Alperton Garage Farewell Open Day
Saturday September 11, 2021

After 82 years of operation the Alperton Bus Garage ceased being operational on Friday September 10, 2021. The following day they opened up their doors and invited the public in to enjoy the various buses and chat with staff, for the final time.

London The Unfinished City
Keilyn takes Erin for a ride.

Myself, Erin, Keilyn and my uncle Martin arrived at the depot a few minutes before the gates opened. Joining the queue we didn't have to wait long. A £2.50 entrance fee for adults (accompanied children were free), which would go to local charities was a small price to pay.

London The Unfinished City
Centrewest (Preserved) BL81 (1977).

Greenline coaches, RT-type buses, RM (Routemaster) buses, Stagecoach bus, New Routemaster, Fleetline double deck bus and many more were all on show. Many of these you could climb aboard and explore, hang off the back support pole or climb into the driver's seat and change the destination boards.

London The Unfinished City
A Northfleet Greenline Coach & London Transport bus RFW14 (1951).

Inside the garage stalls offered the chance to own memorabilia, which included old timetables, route maps, postcards, photos, books, DVDs, VHS tapes, models, uniforms, badges and much more. Inderjit Puaar, who wrote two books for children, called Bradley the Bus, was on site signing copies. So, Erin and Keilyn had one each that she dedicated and signed.

Keilyn was in behind the steering wheel of every bus that she could, with Erin, who is slightly taller, could reach the handles to change the destination boards from the drivers seat. Sensibly, all of the drivers had disconnected the horns, which would surely have been going off incessantly otherwise.

London The Unfinished City
Me, hanging off the back of a Routemaster, which brought back many memories.

Free bus trips were being run from the garage out to Sudbury & Harrow School (route 18B), Wembley Park (route 46) and West Perivale & Perivale (route 79A), but this would have meant a rather long wait, as the crowds were, by now, in their hundreds.

We visited the garage canteen for refreshments and then took a final look around, before we made our way back along Ealing Road, in search of some lunch, before we made our way home.

It was a great day out and I wish all the drivers, staff and volunteers all the best and 'thank you' for inviting us in.

Saturday, July 03, 2021

Westminster Underground Station


London The Unfinished City
Walls like catacombs.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Most of the Unfinished City's underground stations have unique features or something that stands them apart from the others. The surface stations are different as they were all built to the same standard, although some, which were added later, were designed to stand out.

London The Unfinished City
Supports, staircases & escalators.

My favourite underground station is Westminster, which has a uniqueness to it that I have not seen at any other subsurface station. From the giant box that you descend into, to the staircases, escalators and elevators all supported from giant steel pillars, it is like descending into the bowels of the Earth.

London The Unfinished City
Structural supports.

The lighting is just right to show off the skill and workmanship that went in to constructing this behemoth of a station and, considering the depth to which you descend, this station only has four platforms: Circle & District line eastbound, Circle & District line westbound, Jubilee line eastbound & Jubilee line westbound.

London The Unfinished City
'Station Box'

Brief History

Westminster Bridge underground station was originally opened on Christmas Eve 1868 and was built using the cut-and-cover method. Originally the station was just a temporary structure, with individual awnings for the platforms, and was the terminus for the District Railway.

The railway passes diagonally beneath Parliament Square and lies close to Westminster Abbey. Because of the poor ground around Westminster Abbey and St. Margaret's Church work had to be conducted with care, to avoid damage to the foundations. 

With the Metropolitan Railway and the District Railway now using the station, resulting in more footfall, it was decided, in 1905, to electrify the lines and purchase some new rolling stock. In 1907 the station had its name changed to simply Westminster.

In the mid 1890s the station had been incorporated into a larger building, but it would take until 1922 for a new canopy to be designed for the Bridge Street entrance.

The platforms were gradually extended, between 1962-64, to allow for longer eight-carriage trains to operate at the station.

During the 1990s the entire station was redesigned and had to be rebuilt, to allow for deep-level platforms to be built to accommodate the Jubilee line extension.

These works included the demolition of the existing buildings, around the station, and what would become the deepest excavation in central London, which at its deepest point reached 128 feet. This massive void would eventually house the escalators, elevators and stairs down to the Jubilee line platforms, would become to be called the 'Station Box'.

One consideration was The Elizabeth Tower which stands just 112 feet away from the giant excavations. 

In November 1999 trains began passing through the station, but would not stop at the station until December 22, 1999, 131 years after the station had originally opened.

Thursday, July 01, 2021

King's Cross Lighthouse

London The Unfinished City
King's Cross Lighthouse

If you are ever in the King's Cross area keep an eye open and see if you can spot what looks to be a lighthouse, atop a flatiron-style building.

The building stands on the junction of Euston Road, Grays Inn Road, Pentonville Road and York Way and is an enigma to the area.

During recent years the building, and said lighthouse, were boarded up and awaiting reconstruction work, as the entire area was transformed. The lighthouse itself had been daubed with graffiti and looked to be falling apart, due to a lack of care and attention.

There are many stories and suppositions as to why there is what appears to be a lighthouse atop a building, miles from any serious navigational river, but none of these are confirmed.

It is possible that was just an architectural whim, or was meant as some grander scheme.

The most prevalent story is that it was built as a kind of advertising stunt, in the 1870-1880s, when the shop below was Netten's Oyster Bar. 

Following much regeneration, in the area, I was glad to see that the lighthouse had been rejuvenated, too, rather than have being removed or altered.

So, if you are ever near the plaza, outside King's Cross station, look across and take a look at this lighthouse, in the middle of a busy thoroughfare.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

London Dungeon


London The Unfinished City
It's time to scream

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Planning things to do in and around the Unfinished City is tricky at the best of times. With the pandemic affecting ticket sales and the capacity of attractions, planning becomes a major factor. Then, you have to wonder what the Morrissey girls want to do. Erin decided that we should visit the London Dungeon, which Keilyn seconded. 

Having visited the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, the previous afternoon, stayed at a Premier Inn for the night, we were in the perfect position to make the most of our Sunday.

After breakfast we collected our things, from our room, and checked out of the hotel.

We then headed along the River Thames, towards the MillenniuM footbridge and St. Paul's Cathedral.

London The Unfinished City
St. Paul's Cathedral.

From here we headed along Ludgate Hill to Fleet Street, from where we turned onto Essex Street and down onto the Victoria Embankment.

From here it was a short walk to Embankment Station, where we grabbed a drink and the girls made use of the facilities. 

We then headed across the Golden Jubilee Bridge and down on to the Southbank and the Queen's Walk. A spot of lunch and rest, was followed by the girls going for a ride on a Carousel.

London The Unfinished City
Erin and Keilyn on the Carousel.

After being entertained by some of the street performers, that pepper the Queen's Walk, we headed off to the London Dungeon.

Queuing wasn't much of an issue, as all tickets had been pre-booked, so we soon heading into the dark, creepy dungeons.

Passing through the first set of doors a figure jumped out from a hidden alcove, causing many in the line to jump. The line was slow moving as we waited for our chance to have our photo taken, before we moved off to the elevator that would take us down to the bowels of the city.

London The Unfinished City
The girls look too happy wielding axes.

Keeping a wary eye out for anyone lurking in the dark, we entered the elevator which suddenly plummeted, due to someone thinking it would be clever to cut the ropes.

I don't want to go into too much detail, as I don't wish to spoil this adventure for those that haven't visited. Suffice to say that you get to experience everything that you could dream, or have nightmares, of; Guy Fawkes, the Plague, Mrs Lovett's Pie Shop, Sweeney Todd's Barber Shop, The Ten Bells pub, Jack the Ripper and much more.

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"Bring out your dead!"

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Left to rot.

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Narrow arched streets of East London.

There are also two rides, one of which was a real scream!

Obviously the experience ends with a trip the gift shop, which is situated within a pub called the Cock & Beaver, where we stopped for a stiff drink while the girls had slush puppies.

London The Unfinished City
Cock & Beaver.

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Customers in the pub.

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Have a selfie with Frank.

The pub was also part of the experience as strange occurrences happened all the time. Mirrors cracked, tankards moved of their own accord and the piano would mysteriously start playing.

On leaving the London Dungeon we grabbed an ice cream, before heading off to Westminster Station to catch our train for home.

London The Unfinished City
Westminster Station.

Both girls have said that they do NOT wish to go back, deciding that the Aquarium would be the safer option, next time.

I, however, would whole-heartedly urge you to visit... if you have the guts.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Royal Observatory, Greenwich


London The Unfinished City
The Royal Observatory, Greenwich.

Saturday, June 26, 2021.

There is a line in the 1982 film 'Who Dares Wins' where a character states that 

"Only tourists go to Greenwich."

This line has stuck with me through the years, but, although completely accurate at the time, it is no longer the case.

We decided to take a trip to London, as a family, and visit Greenwich Market, the Park and the Royal Observatory. We would then stay a t a hotel, near The Monument, so we could spend Sunday in The Unfinished City, too.

Our first stop was the Market, where we perused the stalls before deciding what each of us wanted for lunch. Street food was the order of the day. Emma opted for sushi, while Keilyn went for a hot dog and chips. Erin had some noodles, while I chose noodles with spiced beef.

London The Unfinished City
Noodle van.

Suitably fed we made our way up towards Greenwich Park, passing the Maritime Museum and headed up the sloping hill to the Royal Observatory.

Now, I have visited the Old Royal Naval College and Greenwich Market before, but I had never ventured into the Park, much less to the top of the park.

Wandering ahead with Keilyn beneath the tree-lined avenue, which offered welcome protection from the sun, Emma and Erin took a more leisurely pace. Reaching some benches, Keilyn and I waited patiently for them to catch up, before we headed up the slope to the Observatory and the viewing area. And what a view. I had seen photographs taken by others, but I had no idea how grand the vista that now greeted us would be. I was spellbound.

London The Unfinished City
The view from the top of Greenwich Park.

We stopped for a well-deserved rest, before making our way to the entrance of the Observatory, with tickets ready.

Walking through the entrance hall and out into a small garden, the first object we discovered was William Herschel's Telescope.

London The Unfinished City
William Herschel's Telescope.

This is all that remains of the telescope which was originally a forty foot long reflecting telescope. It was, at the time, the largest telescope in the world, appearing on Ordnance Survey Maps. It was paid for King George III, at a cost of £4000, and was completed in 1789. William Herschel had discovered Uranus in 1781.

Our next stop was Flamsteed House (see top photo), which had been home to ten families of Royal Astronomers. It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and cost £520 to build, which was £20 over budget. 

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An orrery.

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A Clockwork Universe.

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Three Tompion Clocks flank the doorway.

After wandering through the various rooms and looking at all of the artefacts, we made our outside to where the Prime Meridian splits the courtyard. We each then took a turn standing on the line.

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Me on the Prime Meridian.

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Morrissey Girls on the Prime Meridian.

We then headed in to the Observatory proper, where we delighted in seeing the various telescopes and paraphernalia that had been used to make shipping and world travel easier and safer. 

London The Unfinished City
Prime Meridian of the world.

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Telescope and chair.

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Herschel's Telescope and view from the Royal Observatory.

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The roof of the Royal Observatory.

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Telescope at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.

We then made our way out, via the gift shop, and off for a drink and sit down, before heading off for a wander through Greenwich Park.

Brief History

The observatory was commissioned King Charles II in 1675. Sir Christopher Wren chose the site as Greenwich Park was a royal estate, so no new land needed to be bought. At that time the king also created the position of Astronomer Royal, who was to 

"apply himself with the most exact care and diligence to the rectifying of the tables of the motions of the heavens, and the places of the fixed stars, so as to find out the so much desired longitude of places for the perfecting of the art of navigation."

John Flamsteed was the first Astronomer Royal and with he building being completed, in the summer of 1676, it was often called "Flamsteed House".


1675 Royal Observatory founded by King Charles II.
1714 Longitude Act established the Board of Longitude and Longitude rewards. 
1767 The fifth Astronomer Royal Nevil Maskelyne began publication of The Nautical Almanac, based on observations made at the Observatory.
1818 Oversight of the Royal Observatory was transferred from the Board of Ordnance to the Board of Admiralty.
1833 Daily time signals began, marked by dropping a time ball.
1838 Sheepshanks equatorial, a 6.7 inch aperture refracting telescope installed.
1893 28-inch Great refractor installed.
1899 The New Physical Observatory was completed.
1924 Hourly time signals from the Royal Observatory were first broadcast.
1931 Yapp telescope ordered.
1948 Office of the Astronomer Royal was moved to Herstmonceux in East Sussex.
1957 Royal Observatory completed its move to Herstmonceux, becoming the Royal Greenwich Observatory (RGO). The Greenwich site was renamed the Old Royal Observatory.
1990 RGO moved to Cambridge.
1998 RGO closed. Greenwich site was returned to its original name, the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, and was made part of the National Maritime Museum.
2011 The Greenwich museums, including the ROG, became collectively the Royal Museums Greenwich.
2018 the AMAT telescope becomes operational for astronomical research in 2018.


Thursday, February 25, 2021

Samuel Lowdell


London The unfinished City
Samuel Lowdell (1864-1887).

Samuel Lowdell, of Bow Common, was a bargeman that worked on the barge 'William and Mary', on the River Thames. During his short life Samuel had previously saved two other people from the dangerous waters of Old Man Thames.

On the night of February 25, 1887, Samuel was working on the barge, near Blackfriars, when a shout went up that someone had fallen into the River. A boy, named Buck, had fallen in and, without any hesitation, Samuel dived into the frigid, murky waters to save him.

Unfortunately, on this occasion, after saving the boy, Samuel became stuck beneath a smaller boat, which was moored next to his barge. Despite frantic efforts to free him, Samuel never resurfaced and was presumed drowned. Buck was pulled from the water by another boat.

Samuel's body would not be recovered from the River Thames until March 23, 1887.

On April 3, 1887, Samuel Lowdell was buried in a common grave at Manor Park Cemetery.

This plaque is situated on the wall of the G. F. Watt's Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice, in Postman's Park. 

Monday, February 15, 2021

Cathedral Church of St. Saviour and St. Mary Overie

Cathedral Church of St. Saviour and St. Mary Overie (Southwark Cathedral).

Southwark Cathedral dominates the area around London Bridge, Bankside and sits right next to Borough Market.

It is a remarkable building that is gradually being swamped by other buildings in the area. One of the best ways to get to see the building in all of its glory, besides going inside, is to look down on it from The Shard.

If you are ever in the area then it is well worth exploring the building and its history, in which it is steeped. But, you must remember it is a working building, so entry may be refused on special occasions, so check their website or signage before visiting.

Brief History

The Cathedral Church of St. Saviour and St. Mary Overie is the 4th church to have been built on this site. Fire having destroyed the three previous churches. 

Parts of the building date from the 7th century, with St. Swithun, the Bishop of Winchester, rebuilding the church and adding a monastery, which replaced an earlier convent, in the 9th century.

These buildings were again rebuilt in the 12th century, by the Augustinian Canons, who also built St. Thomas's Hospital.

There are a few traces of the Norman Priory church that survive to this day, plus some 13th century parts.

Fire, once again, destroyed the church in 1206, with construction on on the new church beginning in 1220 in a Gothic style. It is now the oldest Gothic church in London.

Following more fire damage, in 1385, the Bishop of Winchester, Cardinal Beaufort, helped to finance the restoration of the building. In 1424 Beaufort's niece, Joan Beaufort, married James I, King of Scotland at the church.

In 1469 the stone-vaulted roof of the nave collapsed and was rebuilt in wood.

In 1539 the Priory was suppressed and handed to Henry VIII, at the reformation, with St. Mary Overie becoming the parish church of St. Saviour, Southwark.

In 1614 the parishioners bought the church from James I and it is with them that the property would remain.

During the English Civil War St. Saviour's escaped damage and its new tower was finished by 1689.

London The Unfinished City
Southwark Cathedral.

Sometime, in the early 19th century, some extensive and much needed repair work was carried out on the choir and tower. The wooden roof, of the nave, was taken down in 1831, leaving it open to the elements, resulting in the walls being demolished in 1840.

In 1890, it was decided that a Cathedral church was needed for the rising population, south of the River Thames, with St. Saviour's being the top choice. With the Prince of Wales laying the foundation stone, work swiftly began on the building. At the same time the boundaries of the medieval sees were being reorganised, with Southwark transferred from the See of Winchester to the See of Rochester.

In 1897 St. Saviour's became the Cathedral of South London, with Edward Stuart Talbot being enthroned as the 1st Bishop of Southwark, in 1905.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

London Necropolis Railway


London The unfinished City
London Necropolis Railway Station

Wandering around the south of the River Thames, near Waterloo Station, you are surrounded by some fantastic architecture. 

This building which, to me, looked like an old fire station is actually the entrance to the London Necropolis Railway. 

Brief History

With space becoming a premium in London, more people were interred outside of the city. Brockwood Cemetery, Surrey, seemed like the perfect choice, so a train line was built that would transport the deceased and their mourners there. Brockwood Cemetery would become known as the London Necropolis.

From 1854 the London Necropolis Company's funeral traffic to Brockwood Cemetery left from the Necropolis Station, just outside Waterloo, and for many years there was a daily funereal express, to and from the Cemetery.

The waiting rooms, as well as the carriages on the funeral train, were partitioned so as to keep mourners and the deceased from mixing, also allowing to keep the different social classes apart.

The London Necropolis Railway was also used to transport many exhumed bodies, from London's overflowing cemeteries, to Brockwood.

The company had expected to carry between ten and fifty thousand bodies, per year, but, they ended up carrying just over two thousand, per year.

The London terminus was badly damaged in April 1941, during an air raid, which left it unusable. Funeral trains still departed to Brockwood Cemetery, until its official closure in May 1941.

An early price list shows that the charge for a coffin was 2s 6d.

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Brydges Place


London The Unfinished City
Brydges Place, Bedfordbury entrance

Brydges Place is an odd curiosity, that I stumbled upon quite by accident.

It was during one of my meandering strolls around the West End that discovered this entrance on Bedfordbury, Charing Cross. I decided to wander along it, to see where it took me.

The entrance was of a typical width of about 6 feet and about 80 feet along another entrance appeared, on my left, which leads to Chandos Place. This entrance was considerably wider and was obviously built to allow vehicles to enter for loading and unloading. 

Continuing along Brydges Place, which runs for roughly 280 feet, the only people I saw were restaurant staff exiting the rear of their premises to place rubbish in the bins. It did make me wonder if, besides those who work along its length, anyone does use this alley as a shortcut.

A sense of unease started to plague me as, slowly, the walls appeared to be closing in on me. By the time I reached the end of Brydges Place, my shoulders were almost touching both sides of the alley. 

London The Unfinished City
Brydges Place, from St. Martin's Lane.

London is full of alleyways and narrow streets, some of which hide hidden gems like pubs and old shops and building. Brydges Place is not one of them. Instead, it is, quite simply, a straight walkway between one place and another. Its only saving grace, is its ability to make you feel uneasy as the walls start to close in on you. Obviously, if you entered from St. Martin's Lane the opposite would be true.

A comparison of both entrances.

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