Thursday, February 29, 2024

"Cannon to right of them..."

City of London bollard
A City of London bollard.

Walking around the streets of London you will always see metal posts, or bollards, separating the pavement from the road. Many of these, especially the newer ones, are metal or toughened plastic. 

In the city of London these bollards become more ornate, but some of them have a history, are quite old and are not even English.

City of London bollard
More street bollards in the City of London.

During the Battle of Trafalgar, on October 21, 1805, the British plundered all of the French ships, using what they could, before sinking the enemy ships. The French cannon could not be converted for use by the British fleet, so, instead of leaving them to be reused, they were brought back to England and used as bollards, throughout the East End and south London.

Cannons used as bollards
French cannon, used as street bollards, removed during pavement works.

Before they were set in stone each cannon had a ball welded into the barrel, so as to stop it being removed and used against the country.

Cannon in Rotherhithe
Cannon outside the old Royal Navy Victualling Yard, Rotherhithe.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Millwall Slipway

London The Unfinished City
Hydraulic ram.

Historic places can be easily missed, even when walking the streets and roads of London.

It was while wandering along Westferry Road, on the Isle of Dogs, that I found what looked like a car park and an ordinary entranceway to the River Thames.

London The Unfinished City
At first glance it looks like a simple slipway.

What made me stop were the bollards at the top of the ramp. These weren't your typical car park bollards, but ones that I have seen countless times near docks and mooring sites. So, I decided to take a closer look.

Heading down the slipway I saw some obviously old machinery, to my left. On closer inspection I discovered that this was a hydraulic ram, once used for closing the long disappeared lock gates.

London The Unfinished City
Hydraulic ram.

The ramp itself was modern, although, as I approached the foreshore, a portion of the old ramp could be seen almost completely covered by sand, rubble and pieces of clay pipes that litter London's beaches.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Walking with Keilyn: The 'Cart & Horses', Stratford, to... "Rain stopped play"

Cart & Horse London
Keilyn outside the Cart & Horses.

Thursday February 22, 2024.

Having taken Erin to the Wallace Collection and parts west, on Tuesday, I had promised to take Keilyn to Stratford and parts east, today. As I and some friends had taken Keilyn to see Iron Maiden, at the O2, last year, I had promised to take her to where Iron Maiden had first performed... The Cart & Horses.

Rain was meant to be light and fleeting, but ended up being heavy and perpetual. Still, it didn't put us off.

Our day started with my uncle Martin, and my mum, picking us up and driving to Croxley station, as they were heading to the British Museum and various places, for the day. We shared the semi-fast Metropolitan line train to Finchley Road, where Keilyn and I disembarked and boarded a Jubilee line train to Stratford, leaving mum and Martin to head off to Euston Square.

West Ham station roundel
Keilyn at West Ham station.

We arrived at West Ham station, where Keilyn had her photo taken with a West Ham roundel, before we continued to Stratford, grabbing a snack and hot drink, but not before Keilyn had her photo taken with 'Robert', a steam engine, that  Keilyn had last stood next to in 2015.

'Robert' the steam engine
Keilyn with Robert the steam engine.

As we wandered up The Grove, the rain, which had been threatening, began to get heavy, so we took shelter in a closed shopfront recess for a few minutes, whole we waited for the Cart & Horses to open its doors.

Cart & Horses Birthplace of Iron Maiden
Keilyn ready to enter Hallowed Ground.

As soon as we saw the doors open I took a photo of Keilyn outside the pub, in her double-denim and Iron Maiden t-shirt, before we headed inside and out of the rain. A few moments later we had drinks (Pepsi for Keilyn and a Trooper for me) and Keilyn was off to the jukebox, busy searching for Iron Maiden tracks. I, meanwhile, was busy looking around at the photos, wall art, merchandise, signed posters and the like.

Trooper Beer Bottles
Trooper Beer.

Since my last visit, in 2018, the pub has had a major refurbishment. The stage, which had stood on the left, as you entered the pub, had now been moved downstairs, where the live music was now performed. And, as such, was off limits to the casual patron. I did get a photo of Keilyn where the stage had been, though.

Keilyn Morrissey at the Cart & Horses
Keilyn, where the stage used to be.

However, the barmaid, Ruta (not sure of spelling, so sorry if it is wrong), did say that once her colleague arrived she would take us downstairs to see the stage. While we waited Keilyn busied herself at the bar, by completing a Heavy Metal wordsearch, while also working out what merchandise she wanted to buy. 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

How did London's Underground & Overground lines get their names?

"Names mean almost nothing." - Jean-Luc Picard

"Names mean almost everything."  - Jack Crusher

London The Unfinished City
Image Copyright TfL

So, from Autumn 2024, the six London Overground lines are to be given distinct names and colours.

London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has finally followed through with one of his 2021 Labour mayoral manifesto pledges, which was to overhaul and rename the London Overground lines. The total cost of the project is around £6.3 million, which is an eye-watering amount of money, especially with current financial woes. 

But, hey, it will make things clearer and easier... won't it?

After hearing this news, I thought it would be fun to look at the etymology of the London Underground line names, before looking at the new ones.

Bakerloo - A portmanteau of the 'Baker Street and Waterloo Railway'.

Central - Originally called the Central London line it was shortened to Central line in 1937.

Circle - Quite simply the line is a loop. Easy. Except, as of 2009, it no longer runs in a complete circle.

District - Originally built by the Metropolitan District Railway, it became known as the District line so as not to be confused with the Metropolitan Railway.

Elizabeth - Originally this line was to be called Crosstrail, but, no. Once again a more regal name was chosen, and so was named in honour of HM Queen Elizabeth II.

Hammersmith & City - Quite simply it runs from Hammersmith and through the City. Boring.

Jubilee - Originally proposed as the Fleet line, various financial issues, construction delays and changes to its route saw it called the Jubilee line, in honour of Queen Elizabeth II's silver jubilee in 1977. Nice, but the line didn't open until 1979 and wasn't completed until 1999.

Metropolitan - The world's first underground railway was built by the Metropolitan Railway Company. I think the clue is in the name.

Northern - The City & South London Railway built the first proper underground line, built by boring a tunnel, rather than the cut-and-cover method. The Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway became owned by the Underground Electric Railways Company of London. In 1914 the Underground Electric Railways Company of London bought the City & South London Railway and, by adding extensions, allowed the lines to run on the same line. None of this explains why the name Northern was chosen though. 

Piccadilly - The Great Northern, Piccadilly & Brompton Railway ran from Finsbury Park under Piccadilly to Brompton. Quite simply, as the line reached the West End the name was shortened to simply Piccadilly.

Victoria - In 1955 plans were put forward for a new underground line between Victoria and Walthamstow. While planning the line various names were suggested. First there was the Walvic line (Walthamstow-Victoria) and the much better Viking line (Victoria-King's Cross). However, those that know best decided decided to be as boring as possible and call it the Victoria line. I much prefer Viking line.

Waterloo & City - The London and South Western Railway had their terminus at Waterloo Bridge, from where they ran trains to Southampton and back. However, for those people who needed to cross the river, this wasn't good enough. Thankfully, a new company named the Waterloo & City Railway Company obtained permission to build a new line from Waterloo Bridge to a new City station. The line was immediately called the Waterloo and City, although City station would be renamed Bank, the line kept its name.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Walking with Erin: The Wallace Collection to Carnaby Street... and beyond

The Great Gallery
The Great Gallery.

Tuesday February 20, 2024.

With half term upon us I had already planned to take a walk with Keilyn, later in the week. Erin, not one for long walks wanted a day out , too, so we decided to visit the Wallace Collection.

We caught a Metropolitan line train to Baker Street and began our day.

We headed down Chiltern Street, on to Dorset Street and then on to Manchester Street, spying Hertford House on our left, all the while I was taking photos of Coal Hole Plates, as I think they are nice pieces of history.

London The Unfinished City
A Coal Hole Plate.

As tickets are not required, unless seeing one of their temporary exhibitions, we headed through the doors into the entrance hall. Ahead of us carpeted marble stairs lead to the first floor, while rooms were to our left and right. We decided to start on the ground floor and work our way up the house.

We headed through the shop to the Housekeeper's Room, where paintings by Turner, Bonington and Canaletto. 

Fishing Boats
'Fishing Boats' by Bonington.

We then headed through to the first of four rooms dedicated to Arms and Armour. Weapons from India, Persia, Japan and Europe, among others, were displayed, along with armour from various countries.

A Knight on horseback
Arms and Armour.

Following these rooms we headed to the Smoking Room, which was filled with jewelry, porcelain and the like, before heading to the 16th Century Gallery, the Front State Room, the Back State Room, the Dining Room and then the Billiard Room.

Hertford House Smoking Room
The Smoking Room.

We then ascended the stairs and entered the Boudoir, the West Room and the three West Galleries.

Hertford House Staircase
The Staircase.

The highlight, for me, was the Great Gallery, which is an amazing and spacious room. Furniture and paintings, along with ornaments were spread around this cavernous room, while seating allowed you to sit and take in the room.

The Great Gallery
The Great Gallery.

We then made our way though to the three East Galleries and then the East Drawing Room. Each room was splendid and it felt like stepping back in time. The Small Drawing Room led us to the Large Drawing Room, the Oval Drawing Room and the Study.

Oval Drawing Room
Erin in the Oval Drawing Room.

We then moved through the Boudoir Cabinet back in to the Boudoir and out onto the Landing. After a brief break we headed down the staircase and headed out of Hertford House.

Monday, February 19, 2024

'A Slice of Reality' by Richard Wilson

London The Unfinished City
View looking east.

Northwest of the O2 Arena, along Olympian Way, there is a vertical slice of a ship, stood next to the bank. It is a strange sight to behold, looking like the remnants of some ocean disaster, but it is not.

The clean lines where the ship has been cut allow you to see the inner decks, gangways and the inner hull.

As it turns out, this is no accident, but rather a sculpture by Richard Wilson.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

John Evelyn's Mulberry Tree

London The Unfinished City
John Evelyn's Mulberry Tree.

Walking through Sayes Court Park I was confronted by this fenced off tree. At first look the tree is definitely very old and, I assumed, fenced off to protect it. 

This was only partially correct as it turns out that this tree has a history. A history involving Peter the Great of Russia. Intriguing.

Monday, February 12, 2024

'Liberty Grip' by Gary Hume

London The Unfinished City
'Liberty Grip' by Gary Hume.

Continuing my blogs about the various pieces of public art to be found along the Olympian Way, around the Greenwich Peninsula, I give you what I consider to be the strangest... 'Liberty Grip' by Gary Hume.

Monday, February 05, 2024

'Tribe and Tribulation' by Serge Attukwei Clottey

London The Unfinished City

If you wander along the Olympian Way, which is part of the Thames Path around the Greenwich Peninsula, you will see numerous pieces of Public Art. There is 'The Tide', 'Here', 'A Slice of Reality' and more.

One of the most intriguing ones, that I have found, is 'Tribe and Tribulation' by Serge Attukwei Clottey.

Sunday, February 04, 2024

Walking with friends: King's Cross to Whitechapel... and beyond

London The Unfinished City
A circular Tube Map, advertising Google's new 'circle to search' feature, at King's Cross station.

Saturday February 3, 2024.

Originally our plan had been to walk westward from London Bridge towards Vauxhall, as this was a route that we had only partially completed before. However, with a few train strikes and some engineering works being carried out, we decided on a completely different route.

Len made his way from Kings Langley to meet me and we caught the Metropolitan line to King's Cross, where we waited for Gary, who was travelling down from Peterborough. Len and I had a coffee, while we awaited Gary's train. Once Gary had arrived, at around 10:40, we decided to head east, along Pentonville Road to City Road and then onto Commercial Street.

London The Unfinished City
Trains covered in graffiti, Shoreditch.

On the way we passed through Shoreditch and saw lots of graffiti covered trains and buildings. 

With the time getting on for 11:30ish, we headed along Whitechapel Road in search of a bite to eat. A small restaurant, which was reasonably priced, provided sustenance and, suitably full, we continued ever eastward.

London The Unfinished City
The Blind Beggar.

Our first port-of-call was 'The Blind Beggar'. Gary had never visited this infamous pub, so he was pleased to enter. While we sat and chatted the actor Vas Blackwood entered, as he uses the pub as a starting point of his walking tours around the East End. Gary decided to go and have a chat with him, buying a signed photo and getting a selfie with him.

I think that sometime very soon I shall book myself on to one of Vas Blackwood's Walking Tours, as they are meant to be really informative and entertaining.

London The Unfinished City
Gary with the actor Vas Blackwood.

Suitably refreshed we left the pub and headed south, through Shadwell towards Wapping, as there was a pub that I thought they might like to visit.