Tuesday, June 13, 2023

'The Mall'

London The Unfinished City
Looking west towards Buckingham Palace and the Victoria Memorial.

The Mall has to be one of the most popular places for tourists to visit, in London, and is open to both pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

Whether it is to see Buckingham Palace, Admiralty Arch, Horse Guards, St James's Palace or either of the two parks, Green and St James's, it is always busy.

London The Unfinished City
A gun salute in Green Park.

Then there are the events that take place along its length, such as Changing the Guard, Royal processions including coronations, state openings of Parliament and state visits.

London The Unfinished City
Changing the Guard always draws the crowds.

Although vehicles are allowed to travel down it, scheduled bus routes are forbidden, unless permission is given by the monarch. This has only been granted twice and occurred in 1927 and 1950. 

Sunday, June 11, 2023

'The Black Friar'

London The Unfinished City
The Black Friar public house.

On the odd occasion that I fancy a drink, when walking around London, I never stop at one of those pubs that has no character, preferring to find a pub with a bit of history.

So it was while walking westward along the River Thames that I spotted this odd shaped building, across the road from Blackfriars station. 

London The Unfinished City
The wedge shaped Black Friar pub.

As I approached I realised that it was a pub and, so, headed in. And what a place it is.

London The Unfinished City
Some of the bronze relief around the top of the bar.

The pub is remarkably deceptive as, when viewed from the outside, it looks long and narrow, but, once inside, the pub opens up with a substantial bar area, for pub this small, that contains booths, tables and areas to just stand. 

London The Unfinished City
Scenes from the life of a monk.

Signs indicated a dining area, which I didn't visit on this occasion, where people waited to be seated.

London The Unfinished City
A day in the life of a monk.

Around the tops of the walls bronze reliefs showed Dominican Friars going about there daily tasks, while a stained glass window allowed a rainbow of light to filter into the room.

London The Unfinished City
Stained Glass Window.

There was obviously some serious history to this pub, so I bought a pint of ale and sat outside at one of the tables. 

Thursday, June 08, 2023

Was this London's Smallest Police Station?

London The Unfinished City
It is NOT a Police Station.

Supposedly, on Trafalgar Square's south east corner, stands the UK's smallest Police Station. It is not! It never has been and it never will be.

The closest that it has been to being a Police Station was from 1928 until the 1970's, when it was used as a Police Observation Post.

So, let's clear this matter up.

According to many websites the Police Station was erected at the behest of Sir Lionel Edwards, who was in charge of the Office of Works.

However, no such person ever existed.

There was a Sir Lionel Earle, permanent secretary to the Office of Works, and a Mr G. Edwards OBE of the Metropolitan Police. These two men did correspond with each other and it is entirely plausible that the names were confused, at some point, and Sir Lionel Edwards came into being.

London The Unfinished City
"the Telephone Box inside the great granite base of the big lamp".

Now, the Police Station.

There had been correspondence between the Metropolitan Police and the Office of Works about having a Police Box erected in Trafalgar Square since the late 1910's.

A wooden telephone box was installed by the entrance to Trafalgar Square underground station in 1919, but the Police were after something bigger and more permanent. Their rationale was as Trafalgar Square was a place where protesters met, usually without any warning, they needed somewhere from which to keep an eye on the crowds and have the ability to call for reinforcements, if necessary. 

In 1921 the wooden box was still affixed to the London Underground entrance, but London Underground it removed as they had plans of their own.

At one point there was the suggestion put forward that an observation post could be installed on the roof of the National Gallery. This was turned down by the Metropolitan Police and was never mentioned again.

There was also the idea of erecting a wooden Police Public Call Box, but it would have been too conspicuous, so this idea was rejected, too.

Following the General Strike riots, of 1926, Sir Earle wrote to Mr Edwards with the suggestion that "...it might be possible to get the Telephone Box inside the great granite base of the big lamp at the end of the balustrade...".

Mr Edwards wrote back that he had had the same idea, but had dismissed it.

In July 1927 Sir John Anderson, the Permanent Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office, approved the observation box, which was estimated at costing £550.

London The Unfinished City
Nothing more than an Observation Post.

New granite was ordered and transported to London from Cornwall. 

In March 1928 the Observation Post was completed and the old wooden telephone box was removed.

During the 1930s the lamp, which had been run using gas, was converted to electricity. In addition the lamp was controlled in such a way that it blinked when the telephone rang, so that the officers could see it from across the square.

In the 1970's, with the introduction of radio communication, the observation post became redundant and has since had the telephone removed.

Sadly, it is now just used for storage., but Police Officers from around the world still come to see, and have their photo taken with, what they believe is London's smallest Police Station.

London's smallest Police Station was in Wellington's Arch from 1851 until at least 1968.

London's smallest Police Station, currently, is Pinner Police Station in the Borough of Harrow and within the Metropolitan Police's Greater London coverage.

Tuesday, June 06, 2023

World Time Linear Clock

London The Unfinished City
The World Time Today.

If you were to enter London's West End via Piccadilly Circus, then don't rush straight out of the station. Take a moment to marvel at the 1920s architecture and then go in search of a truly unique timepiece.

Built into the wall is the World Time Linear Clock which was the brainchild of Architect Charles Holden and John Mowlem & Company.

It was installed during the expansion of Piccadilly Circus station, during the the early 1920s.

London The Unfinished City
The scrolling band rotates as the Earth spins.

The time is displayed by a west scrolling band, with Roman numerals, that moves at the same speed as the Earth rotates, around the equator.

It shows both GMT and BST and gives a rough indication as to the time around the world. It is not entirely accurate as world time zones only broadly follow longitude. But, it is still a fascinating piece of machinery.

London The Unfinished City
How to use.

Lightbulbs highlight a small number of cities that include London, Cape Town, Sydney, New York, Victoria (Canada) and Buenos Aires.

I was surprised, on my visit, how no one noticed this piece of horology that once informed the traveller, that needed to know, the time around the world. 

Now, people are too inpatient and in a constant rush, which is a shame.

London The Unfinished City
World Time Linear Clock, Piccadilly Circus station.

Saturday, June 03, 2023

Leicester Square

London The Unfinished City
Empire, Leicester Square.

Leicester Square has been a busy hub for tourists and those visiting the area to watch films and shows for many years. The square is used for exhibitions and events throughout the year and is always bustling with a palpable energy.

London The Unfinished City
William Shakespeare fountain.

With the Empire Leicester Square and the Odeon Leicester Square, on two sides which are used for film premieres, and more restaurants than you can count and pubs on the other, it is a magnet for anyone heading to the West End. 

London The Unfinished City
Lumiere Festival, 2016.

To the north is Chinatown, the east Covent Garden, south lies Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus is to the west, making Leicester Square a true hub in the West End.

London The Unfinished City
Enough said.

It is possibly because of how busy the area gets that I prefer walking around other areas of London.

London The Unfinished City
m&m's World.

However, every once in a while, I do head here, especially if there is something worth seeing.

London The Unfinished City
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.

Over the years I have seen many changes to the square and its surroundings. Statues have come and gone. Fountains and water features have been rebuilt and installed. Paving and seating has been improved. Theatres, cinemas, shops and restaurants have come and gone, too.

London The Unfinished City
Celebrity handprints, 2010.

But the atmosphere has always remained.