Thursday, September 29, 2022

Pearly Kings and Queens

London The Unfinished City
Pearly Kings and Queens.

Considering every Borough of London has a Pearly King and Queen, it is rare that I have ever seen them. So, I was quite pleased to see some out and about during the State Funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth II.

They were friendly and more than happy to pose for photos, as the crowds dissipated following the funeral procession.

As this was one of the first times that I seen them up close, I thought that I had better find out more about them.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment

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Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.

Of the roughly fifteen military barracks, within London, the guards of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment are, quite possibly, the most easily recognised. 

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King's Life Guard.

Known as the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals these are the monarch's bodyguard and can be seen, daily, at Horse Guards Parade, which is the ceremonial entrance to Buckingham Palace.

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Blues and Royals.

Most notably they perform ceremonial duties throughout the year, such as the State Opening of Parliament, Trooping the Colour, Garter Ceremony at Windsor Castle, State visits, etc..

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Great Fire of Tooley Street

London The Unfinished City

On Saturday June 22, 1861, at about 16:00, a fire was spotted in Cotton's Wharf, on Tooley Street. It is believed to have been started when a worker in the wharf dropped a cigarette, but this is not confirmed. 

Despite Cotton's Wharf having sturdy fire protection, the surrounding buildings were less protected and the fire spread quickly, especially with the goods held in Cotton's Wharf. These included rice, tallow, hemp, jute and sugar. 

At around 17:00 the London Fire Engine Establishment were informed and joined the two private fire engines, from a local distiller, that were already on the scene.

By 18:00 there were 14 fire engines trying to extinguish the blaze. The River Thames was at low tide, so the river fire engine could not be used as it was unable to draw water from the shallow water.

Soon, though, the blaze became so great that the fire engines were forced to retreat as spice warehouses caught light, distributing spices into the air.

Reflections, 2022: A flotilla on the River Thames

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HMS Belfast and the City of London.

Saturday September 24, 2022.

To honour the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth II and the accession of King Charles III a flotilla of ships sailed along the River Thames as part of a tribute by the river community.

The flotilla of 150+ illuminated boats, of all shapes and sizes, with the rowbarge 'Gloriana' as its centrepiece, began its journey along the River Thames from Albert Bridge. 

Deciding where along the River Thames to view this spectacle was a tough choice; 

Did I stand on one of the bridges and look down on the flotilla? 

Did I pick a spot near the Palace of Westminster, where the river is narrower, allowing for better shots? 

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The perfect backdrop.

No. I would stand opposite HM Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London. This would give me an excellent viewpoint of the HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge, with the Tower of London as my backdrop. Besides, the flotilla had to pass through Tower Bridge, which would be raised, and that is always a joy to watch.

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The flotilla begins to arrive.

As dusk turned to night the armada of vessels began arriving to the west of Tower Bridge. A tannoy sounded on Tower Bridge and the crowds, who thought that they had picked the perfect spot, had to leave the bridge so that the bascules could be raised.

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Tower Bridge with her bascules raised.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Streets paved with gold. No, but paved with wood, sometimes.

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Wooden detail on the road.

"London's streets are paved with gold." - Uh, no they are not.

London's streets have never been paved with gold, obviously. They have, however, been paved in concrete, tarmac, cobbles, cork and wooden blocks, throughout the years. And, depending on the area of the city, a different type of wood was used: Australian Jarrah a hardwood was used in the 'posh' areas, while Swedish a yellow deal softwood was used on the main thoroughfares.

Although the idea of using wood had been around for years, it wasn't until 1839 that wooden blocks were first trialled on the streets of London, outside the Old Bailey.
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Chequer Street.

Then, in 1843, a meeting was brought to discuss the discontinuation of the use of wood in favour of granite cobbles (setts). Wood had proved to be problematic and it was found that the blocks would need to be covered in pitch and sanded. Also, accidents were occurring where roads went from one type of surface to another. The wooden blocks becoming slippery in wet weather.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

State Funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth II


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Farewell, your Majesty.

Monday September 19, 2022.

I was unable, due to working and other responsibilities, to visit HM Queen Elizabeth II as she lay-in-state, so I made sure that I would be able to visit London on the day of her funeral.

With Erin and Keilyn up and ready, early, we headed off to catch a train to London. Changing from the Metropolitan line to the Jubilee line, at Finchley Road, we arrived at Green Park station at 09:30 and followed the crowds towards Hyde Park.

The stewards directed the crowds along Piccadilly and up Clarges Street to Curzon Street and up South Audley Street and onto Stanhope Gate. We then walked along Park Lane until we crossed the road and entered Hyde Park.

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Giant TV screens in Hyde Park.

Not wanting to sit in front of the giant TV screens, that had been erected, we headed south towards Hyde Park Corner. This area was already full, so, turning west, I led the girls along South Carriage Drive until we were opposite the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment barracks. With few people in this area we took up position by the barriers and waited. It was 10:36.

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Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment barracks.

At 10:48 the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment left the barracks and headed towards Westminster, our position providing the perfect location from which to watch.

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Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment head off to perform their duties.

Then, at 11:36, the King's Troop Royal Artillery passed us, heading to a section of sealed off park from where the gun salute would be fired.

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King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery on their way to perform the gun salute.

With rucksacks full of food, snacks and drinks we had a small picnic as we waited for the procession. With toilets directly behind us and water filling stations situated quite close, everything we needed was in close proximity.

Monday, September 12, 2022

'The Blacksmiths Arms'

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The Blacksmiths Arms, Rotherhithe.

Saturday September 10, 2022.

Wandering, as I do, around the streets of London I invariably stumble across a fair few pubs. Many of these I pass by, unless something about it catches my eye. This is what happened when I was walking through Rotherhithe and came across The Blacksmiths Arms.

Beautifully decked out with colourful hanging baskets and potted flowers, I decided to venture inside. Besides, I was thirsty.

And what a wonderful pub it is. Walking inside is like stepping back in time as it still maintains some original fittings and looks every bit the 200+ year old pub.

With its horseshoe bar, dining room at the back, comfortable armchairs and sofas and bar stools, it is a really relaxing place to take a break. There are, also, tables and chairs out front, where you can sit in the fresh air.

There is also a function room that can be hired out for private events.

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Isle of Thanet plaque.

The walls are full of photographs, paintings and various pieces of history, concerning the pub and the surrounding area, so there is a lot to peruse as you wait for a meal or sip your drink.

One photo showed Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, sipping a drink at the bar, so I had to do the same.

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Me standing where Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother once stood.

The staff were friendly and there were a great selection of ales, lagers and spirits that would appeal to everyone.

This is definitely a place that I would revisit, should I find myself walking through Rotherhithe, again.

Wednesday, September 07, 2022

Needle of Thutmose III


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A piece of Egypt in London.

As you walk along the Victoria Embankment, outside of the quaint Victoria Embankment Gardens, there stands an Egyptian Needle made of granite. 

It is flanked by two bronze fake Egyptian sphinxes, which stare towards the needle, rather than having their backs to it in a typical guarding posture. This, apparently, was due to an error when they were installed.

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My eldest, Alysha, sitting with the undamaged sphinx.

On close inspection you can see shrapnel damage, in one of the sphinx, from when a bomb was dropped during a German air raid, in 1917, which detonated close to the needle.

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Shrapnel Damage.

Also, the benches along the Victoria Embankment have winged sphinxes as armrests, which adds even more of a Egyptian feel to the area. 

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One of the Egyptian styled benches that can be found along Victoria Embankment.

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This bench uses Camels as the armrests.

Sunday, September 04, 2022

Parliament Square: Statues

Parliament Square is a historic and symbolic garden area to the west of the Palace of Westminster.

I have walked around it on many occasions and have looked at the various statues, that peer down onto the tourists and passersby, but never really grasped the full range of people immortalised in the square.

Below are the statues, currently, spaced around the square.

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George Canning (Foreign Secretary 1807–1809 and 1822–1827; Prime Minister 1827) 
by Sir Richard Westmacott.

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Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby (Prime Minister 1852, 1858–1859 and 1866–1868) 
by Matthew Noble.

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Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (Prime Minister 1855–1858 and 1859–1865) 
by Thomas Woolner.