Thursday, April 28, 2022

Greenwich Foot Tunnel

London The Unfinished City
The entrance to the Greenwich foot tunnel at Greenwich.

Of the roughly 40 tunnels beneath the River Thames, the majority of which carry utilities, railway lines and motor vehicles, only three allow pedestrians to use them: The Greenwich Foot tunnel, the Woolwich Foot tunnel and the Rotherhithe tunnel, although the latter is not advisable, unless you want to look like a chimney sweep and breath in noxious fumes. 

The Greenwich foot tunnel, which I have traversed on numerous occasions, is the oldest pedestrian foot tunnel in London, linking Greenwich with Island Gardens on the Isle of Dogs.

The south entrance is located in front of the Cutty Sark, while the north entrance is situated in Island Gardens.

You have the option of descending the stairs or wait for the lift to be free. I always take the stairs, which spiral down to the white-tiled tunnel.

London The Unfinished City
The Greenwich foot tunnel.

Running in a straight line it takes roughly 8 minutes to traverse. The northern end has some thick concrete and steel lining, which covers bomb damage from World War II, that does narrow the interior of the tunnel for a short distance.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Walking from Borough Market to Deptford, via the Isle of Dogs

With Covid-19 and the various lockdowns putting a pause on my walks with friends, around The Unfinished City, it is great to be able to start them up again.

Saturday April 2, 2022

After a breakfast of Pulled Pork Burger with apple sauce and sage & onion stuffing, from Hobbs in Borough Market, my friend Stephen and I began our first walk of 2022.

London The Unfinished City
Borough Market is a food lovers paradise.

Heading towards the River Thames we made our way through the Contorted Tunnel, which Stephen had never seen, to the basement of Hay's Galleria. Climbing the stairs we headed out on to the embankment, by HMS Belfast, and followed the path to Tower Bridge. 

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Tower Bridge and the Girl with a Dolphin.

Taking the eastern pedestrian path, across the bridge, we headed to St Katharine Docks Marina, where various yachts, barges, lifeboats and the Queen's Rowbarge 'Gloriana' were moored. As we rounded one of the buildings I pointed out Stanley Kubrick's original 'Monolith' from 2001: A Space Odyssey, which had been affixed to the wall of one of the buildings, back in 1977.

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'Monolith' by Arthur Fleischmann.

From here we headed eastward towards Hermitage Basin and the Ornamental Canal, through Wapping Woods and on to Shadwell Basin. A small area of the basin was being used by Wapping Docklands Market, so we had a look around the different food stalls before heading in to the historic The Prospect of Whitby, for a well-deserved drink.

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Our first drink in London together for a number of years.

Suitably refreshed we continued our journey by joining the Thames Path, at King Edward Memorial Park, which took us past the old converted wharf buildings to Limehouse. Beginning to feel a bit hungry we stopped at The Grapes on Narrow Street for a bite to eat and a drink. 
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The Grapes is a narrow pub on Narrow Street.

With bellies full and plenty of photographs of the various 'Lord of the Rings' memorabilia taken, we continued along Narrow Street and rejoined the Thames Path, which took us to the Isle of Dogs. 

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Looking towards The Shard, from where our walk had begun.

We continued along the Thames Path until we joined Westferry Road, in search of a watering hole. Fortunately, we discovered The Ship just as the Heavens opened and rain, sleet and snow cascaded from the sky for ten solid minutes. 

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The Space Theatre and Bar

Once hydrated we rejoined the Thames Path and discovered the launch ramp for the SS Great Eastern, something that I had wanted to see for many years. The SS Great Eastern was the largest ship in the world, at the time of its construction in 1858.

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Preserved for Posterity.

Continuing along the Thames Path we discovered The Ferry House pub, which, it turns out, is the oldest pub on the Isle of Dogs. As it was a historic pub and been serving the locals since 1722 we had to enter.

London The Unfinished City
The oldest pub on the Isle of Dogs.

From here the Thames Path took us to Island Gardens, a 3-acre park which also houses the north entrance to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. A short conversation ensued as to whether to stick to our route or use the tunnel and walk along the south bank. The latter won out, so we descended the 87 steps and started the 370-metre walk, 15 metres below the River Thames, to the south entrance and its 100 steps up to the surface.

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The Greenwich foot tunnel, looking north.

Emerging into the late spring afternoon sun, with the sounds of a carousel, the smells of street food and the sight of the historic Cutty Sark made for a magical moment. 

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The historic Cutty Sark.

Deciding to make the most of the afternoon we turned westward and made our way along the river, crossing Deptford Creek via the Greenwich Reach Swing Bridge, until we reached Deptford. One of the first statues we spotted was of Peter the Great, who studied shipbuilding here in 1698.

London The Unfinished City
A statue of Peter the Great.

It was as this point that we thought that a drink on the south side of the River Thames was in order, so we stopped at The Dog and Bell, which was perhaps the busiest London pub that we had visited... ever. 

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The Dog and Bell entrance.

With the evening drawing in we continued our journey towards Surrey Quays station, but were shocked to discover that we had reached The Black Horse pub. Now, a few years ago Stephen, Gary and myself had attempted to walk the south bank from Borough Market to Greenwich, but we only made it as far as The Black Horse pub. Realising that, in a way, we had completed a full circle Stephen and I stepped inside to celebrate, making sure to also call Gary to let him know of our achievement.

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A wonderful selection from which to celebrate.

Suitably pleased with ourselves we continued our journey to Surrey Quays station and headed for home, having completed almost 11 miles of walking in 8 hours.

It is so much more enjoyable walking through London with friends, than it is by oneself, that I can't wait to see what we can discover and learn, before it is lost forever, on our next walk.

Monday, April 04, 2022

SS Great Eastern Launch Ramp


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SS Great Eastern launching chains

Saturday, April 2, 2022

It had long been one of my ideas to walk along the Thames Path around the Isle of Dogs, to take in the historic aspects of the area.

And so, having left Borough Market and crossed the River Thames via Tower Bridge, I made my way through St Katharine Docks to Wapping and on to Limehouse, before finally making it to the Isle of Dogs.

Much of the area around West India Docks, which became disused in the 1980s, were redeveloped between the late 1980s and the 1990s, and became the second financial district for London, commonly known as Canary Wharf.

Continuing on my walk I finally reached one of the most historic places on the Isle of Dogs... Napier Yard and the launch ramp of the SS Great Eastern.

London The Unfinished City
SS Great Eastern launch ramp.

This was the exact spot from where, on January 31, 1858, following thirteen unsuccessful attempts, the SS Great Eastern was launched sideways into the River Thames. She was the largest ship ever built, at the time, and was the brainchild of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

The slipway had been lost to the ravages of time, but was finally rediscovered in 1984 when redevelopments took place in the area. As the timbers were uncovered they were sprayed with water before they could be injected with a preservative.

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Preserved for Posterity.

The reason for the thirteen unsuccessful attempts stems from the fact that two slipways were required, rather than the usual one. Both slipways had to be at an identical height to carry the weight of the 12,000 tonne ship, but a miscalculation made the slipway at the bow of the ship being steeper than that at the stern.

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A history of the SS Great Eastern.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Gainsborough Pictures


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Gainsborough Pictures
Monday, March 28, 2022

Wandering east along the Regent's Canal, from Angel, I soon found myself in Shoreditch Park.

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Commemorative Plaque.

To the north of the park are the old Gainsborough Pictures film studios, which were converted to apartments in 2004.

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Film Reel sculpture.

There is a sculpture of a film reel, in Shoreditch Park, and a giant sculpture of Alfred Hitchcock's head within the grounds of the apartments, which, unfortunately, I wasn't able to access on this visit.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

'The London Master's Guide' by Sean Hunt

Way back in 2019 I came across a Kickstarter project that blended my passion for all things London with my love of reading, but with a dash of fantasy thrown in for good measure... 'The London Master's Guide' by Sean Hunt.

London The Unfinished City
The London Master's Guide

Reading through the various pledges I decided to become a backer. This would be the second book that I would back, concerning London, on Kickstarter, with the first being 'Faith in the City of London' by Niki Gorick.

The blurb on the Kickstarter page went as follows:

London is one of the most historic and oft visited places in the world. It’s a true multicultural hub, made up of thousands of points of interest, a multitude of strange delights and vibrant people. Ancient pubs sit in the shadows of towering skyscrapers. Long-forgotten paths open up into new avenues. History peeks out from behind every rooftop, daring you to become a part of London's legend.

The London Master's Guide is the world’s first tour book that blends real-life travel with the magical genre of fantasy.

The book is an essential guide to one of the world’s most storied cities, filled with curious attractions, macabre history, and legendary destinations. But this isn’t your regular travel book. It’s full of original artwork that brings London to life through the lens of fantasy and is written in a way that makes your upcoming trip a part of the city's history.

The London Master's Guide serves to inspire your imagination, fuel your wanderlust and give you all the tools that you need to plan your very own adventure. 

Come intrepid adventurer! There are many sights to see!

The goal of £18,000 to get the book from fantasy to reality was soon surpassed, with £23,769 being raised.

For myself, I had pledged £20 which got me a softback copy of the London Master's Guide and a digital (PDF) copy of the London Master's Guide.

Now all I had to do was to sit back and wait.. and wait... and wait. There's nothing like a pandemic to put a spanner in the works. Lockdowns, restricted travel and being unable to socialise all added to the timescale. The June 2020 estimated delivery was pushed back, but the project was still going ahead.

Then, in December 2021, I received my copy of the book through the post and... WOW! 

The glossy pages and amazing artwork, mixed with the tongue-in-cheek writing style, made this an incredibly unique book. The delay didn't matter any more. What I now held in my hands was well worth the wait.

London The Unfinished City
The Black Dog of Newgate.

The artwork is exceptional and completely unique and the little snippets of history work well with the fantasy artwork.

Your traditional guide books get you from A to B, but miss the historical and more unusual aspects of this great city.

The London Master's Guide corrects this and takes you on a magical adventure through the historical, unusual and macabre aspects of London.

If you would like to know more about the book, purchase a copy or even look through the various other London Master's Guide merchandise available, then click on the link below.

London Master's Guide

Saturday, February 19, 2022

British Telecom Tower

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British Telecom Tower (GPO Tower, Post Office Tower), 2010

I have always been fascinated with the BT Tower, ever since I first saw it. I am not sure what it is about the building, once the tallest in London, but it just looks cool to me. Maybe it is its uniqueness that makes it so fascinating.

London The Unfinished City
The view from below, 2010.

Also, considering how visible it is, it took me an age to get close to it. I would walk towards it and often find that I had passed it, or ended up walking down the wrong road and missing it again. In 2010 I made a conscious effort to finally get a decent photo of this historic tower... and I did. 

Friday, February 18, 2022

St Pancras Old Church


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St Pancras Old Church

Wednesday February 16, 2022.

It was an unseasonably warm morning as Keilyn and I headed to London, for a wander long the Regent's Canal from St John's Wood to King's Cross.

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Towards the end of our journey, as a slight drizzle could be felt on the breeze, we visited St Pancras Old Church where we also saw the Hardy Tree and the Sir John Soane Mausoleum.

Monument removed from the Old Chapel, Highgate.

Fortunately for us the church was open, so we stepped inside this historic building and had a good look around. Before we left we made a small donation for some votive candles, lit them and then continued on our journey.

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Sir John Soane Mausoleum

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Coal Drops Yard & Granary Square

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Granary Square, looking towards Coal Drops buildings.

Wednesday February 16, 2022

Walking along the Regent's Canal from St John's Wood Keilyn and I ended up at Coal Drops Yard, King's Cross. This historic area of London has gone through a major overhaul and is fast becoming one of the top destinations in the area.

London The Unfinished City
Coal Drops Yard

This historic area of London has history going back to the 1850s, when London ran on coal. The buildings, once derelict, have now been restored, refurbished and repurposed. 

London The Unfinished City
Gasholders 10, 11, 12 have been converted into homes, while gasholder no. 8 houses a park.

The entire area is a wonderful place to explore from the old gasholders, to the coal drops and the square which incorporates a lit water feature, which will get a lot of use in warmer weather.

London The Unfinished City
The Fish and Coal buildings, now known as The Coal Office.

And we explored most of it, including the gasholders and some of the shops and boutiques. Keilyn, obviously, explored the water feature, without getting too wet.

Keilyn Morrissey
Keilyn in the water feature.

Friday, January 28, 2022

Ben Wilson: Chewing Gum Artist


London The Unfinished City

Whilst traversing the River Thames, via the London MillenniuM Footbridge, you will often have to dodge people, usually tourists, crouching down in the middle of the thoroughfare taking pictures of the floor.

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No, they aren't floor connoisseurs, but rather people trying to take photos of miniature works of art. 

London The Unfinished City

Yes, really. Beneath the feet of the millions of people who cross the bridge yearly, are tiny works of art that many miss or are oblivious to. 

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It all began back with artist Ben Wilson who had decided that the various shapes made by discarded chewing gum would make good canvasses.

London The Unfinished City

He began his artform in Muswell Hill and Trinity Buoy Wharf before extending across the London MillenniuM Footbridge and into Tate Modern.

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Considering this unhygienic way of disposing of chewing gum, and its capacity to defy the natural order of decay, I am glad that someone is doing something to highlight the issue.

London The Unfinished City

Obviously, with the footfall and weather these works of art are fleeting, so they are worth seeking out.

London The Unfinished City

So, the next time you are walking across the London MillenniuM Footbridge, or visiting Tate Modern, keep an eye on where you are walking.

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And if you are in Muswell Hill or Trinity Buoy Wharf and see any of these miniature works of art, stop and take a good look as they won't be there forever.

London The Unfinished City

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Police Constable Edward George Brown Greenoff


London The Unfinished City
P. C. Edward George Brown Greenoff (1886-1917).

On the evening of Friday January 19, 1917, a fire broke out at the Brunner Mond chemical factory off North Woolwich Road. The factory had been closed in 1912, only to be reopened in 1915 to purify Trinitrotoluene (TNT) for the war effort.

Within minutes of the outbreak of the fire an engine, from the new Brigade headquarters, was trying to dampen the blaze. 

Police Constable Edward Greenoff, of the Metropolitan Police's K Division, was on his beat when he noticed the fire. Realising what was in the building and the imminent danger of an explosion, P.C, Greenoff ran towards the fire to aid in the evacuation of the factory. If it had not been for this act of bravery the death toll would have been a lot higher. He then urged the people who had come to witness the fire to stay back and away from the flames. 

Then there came a rumbling sound and an explosion ripped the building apart. P.C. Greenoff was thrown forward by the force of the explosion and was knocked unconscious.

The building exploded with such force that girders, masonry and even a boiler, weighing several tons, were catapulted through the air. The shockwave, which was felt almost a mile away, ripped roofs from nearby buildings and flattened cottages within the area.

There were 73 fatalities and over 400 more were injured. 

P.C. Edward Greenoff was taken to Poplar Hospital where he died from his injuries on January 28th or 29th.

P.C. Edward George Brown Greenoff was buried in St Marylebone Cemetery, East Finchley.

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

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