I was there again last month with a friend, enjoying the peace and quiet and the lack of people, and I showed her the delightful surounds around the push buttons for the lifts. She loved them too.
Cool huh. Probably my favourite thing thee.
I was there again last month with a friend, enjoying the peace and quiet and the lack of people, and I showed her the delightful surounds around the push buttons for the lifts. She loved them too.
Cool huh. Probably my favourite thing thee.
Here's another riot of colour. Last week it was bollards, this week it's houses:
Today we are in lovely South London. Well, I say that, but I took these pics well over a year ago.the park, do ake a closer look at the bollards in Ledrington Rd, dated 1854. The peeling paint patterns is delightful.
The tops illustrate layers of colourful history – dark green, pink, red, blue, turquoise and yellow, though not necessarily in that order.
It's about time I went back for another wander – it's a lovely part of town.
A few months back I was involved in an email exchange about the patch of wood blocks adjacent to Bunhill Row Cemetery, just off Artillery Row, specifically, and perhaps coincidentally (ironically?), in Chequer Street. Back in ye olde Victorian times this street ran alongside Star Works, the De La Rue postage stamp manufactory, though I don't know if this company was related to Danny.
Ah, but this isn't the only patch of wood paving in the metropolis – I have happened upon quite a few other places that show hints of this eco-friendly-but-hard-to-maintain wooden surface. I've found enough to start a specific collection on my desktop and here I am sharing some of them with you...
At 90-92 Pentonville Road N1, on the corner of Penton Street, there is
evidence of a whole paved private courtyard that is currently used for
car parking. Patches of wood can be seen peeking out from under the
Research shows that this was once the display forecourt outside the
ground floor showroom of R. W. Wilkins & Son, marble, granite and
stone merchants, monumental masons, sculptors, table-top manufacturers,
shopfitters, and interior decorators in marble and tiles. This had
originally been constructed as three Georgian houses with deep front gardens,
mirroring those across the road, and was converted into one
premises in the 1860s by Henry Webb Wilkins, probably RWW's father. The
rectangular blocks appear to be the same shape and size as the ones at
Many good remnants of wood block can also be found nestling within the segments of some old manhole covers. Just east of here, near the border of Islington and Hackney (when this was Finsbury and Shoreditch, respectively) there are examples in Mora Street on the southern side of City Road:
In the middle of Grays Inn Road at the junction of Acton Street, there is a superb example, as shown below on the left with the streetscaape below it, and two good ones on Islington High Street – one set within the pavement near Pizza Express, as shown, and another in the road at the rear of the former electricity transformer station and tram depot. A third one, by the southern door to that building, at the corner of Duncan Street, sort of facing The York pub, has been recently covered in Tarmac.
I'd really love to experience the sound of horses walking on a wood-blocked street. The super-informative Roads Were Not Built For Cars shows us that Bartholomew the cartographer, produced road surface maps of London where streets coloured yellow denoted wood, green indicated sheet asphalt, blue was setts, and pink for macadam (a pre-cursor to Tarmac). The rationale that wood blocks offered the benefit of a quieter environment explains their implementation in residental streets such as West Square and in the old hospital zone around City Road.
The same 'quiet' effect would also apply at this next location – the rear of City Hall, on Belvedere Road, built as the London County Council's head offices in 1911 and, hence, a really busy municipal street.
I'm pretty sure I have located more patches across London, but I can't find the pics right now – do let me know if you've found any others yourself.
Oh my god... how many time have I walked past this and never noticed it until last month?
Estimate = 825 times!
I am always banging on about how things are hiding in plain view, to look up, look down and around you, yet here's me not noticing a stink pipe across the road from Essex Road Post Office.
Much of Ham Baker's Victorian metal street furniture, in the form of lamp posts and stink pipes, still lines our modern streets. Indeed the company is still trading.
Considering the amount of stink pipe pics I have taken over the years I am surprised I have posted more about them. Here's a post from back in 2010 which shows some with attractive crowns.
Staying in Islington, earlier this year, I also [finally] noticed another stink pipe at the Holloway end of Liverpool Road on the triangle in front of the Baptist church – estimated previous walk-pasts = 384(!). And, near that, there's also another one on Holloway Road at the end of Eden Grove (which I had spotted ten years ago). Closer to my home, there's one up near the railway line in Sussex Way, N19, at the corner of Hatchard Rd, and another on St John's Way, N19. I'm sure I will think of more once I hit the 'publish' button here, but hey, that'll do for now.
This Essex Rd pipe will now form part of my "The Only Way Is Essex Road" guided tour. Tho, it can't be the only one in the vicinity.
This is the former home of Kay Film Printing – a film processing company based here in Oxford Rd, N4, adjacent to Parkland Walk and Finsbury Park.
Its now almost finished and it looks marvellous. I really love those 'Jazz Age' style railings.
|Pic from 2014 – retrospective Google Streetview|
Happy days. I am not sure how to include this on my Art Deco tour of the area but it's sure to be included on one of my walks.
Here in the UK, some restrictions as regards social distancing have been lifted – pubs with outdoor table space are open again and hairdressers are busy attacking our lockdown barnets*
It occured to me that both are historically linked by the word 'saloon' so I've pulled some pics together in my old montage-stylee showing a selection of lovely signage across London.
Most of these are pub signs but, as you can see, some are on hairdressers and barbers. Perhaps you recognise some of them or know of some other beauties...?
The separate rooms for saloon, lounge, public, private, snug and offsales is a thing of the past these days, harking back to a Victorian era of class and gender segregation. However, a few pubs in London still have the original walls/dividers and others have reinstated them. This latter section includes The Princess Louise in Holborn, the Fitzroy Tavern in Charlotte Street and the Angel at Rotherhithe.
Never mind sitting outside a pub; that's just not for me. I am looking forward to getting back inside; to stand at a bar or sit on a barstool; to read a newspaper in a comfy chair by a real fire; to talk to barstaff and locals... sigh.
Barnet Fair = hair (London Cockney rhyming slang)
Oh my good... look at the date on my last post – the middle of January!! And now we are fast heading for the middle of April. Whoosh! How did that happen?!
Although I have been almost constantly collecting ideas for this site, I have been filing them away in a 'To Do' folder and can now see that I haven't actually been sharing them with you. I will make a big effort next week as there are a few good things I have noticed or been alerted to these last few months.
The thing that has kept me so busy lately has been designing, researching and hosting virtual tours (online presentations via Zoom) in lieu of leading actual guided tours on the streets being as that's still not really possible yet due to the pandemic restrictions.
Presentations need good pics and reference, so I've been out and about in London's empty streets, wandering about in beautiful winter sunshine, snapping away with my camera to make the slides that accompany my talks.
|London is Lovely|
Find out more about my tours and talks at www.janeslondonwalks.com or simply click here for the upcoming schedule which gives more info about each one.
Inspired by the pointing hands in a recent post, I have collected some more hands that please me.
You might recognise some of them.
The centre pic was taken at the lights festival that usually happens around Canary Wharf in January. I use it for my Facebook avatar sometimes.
Happy January everyone.
Let's start the year by looking at some gorgeous tiles.
If you walk five minutes from the south side of Lambeth Bridge and head down Black Prince Road, you will see a Victorian Gothic masterpiece coming in to view. This was once the ofiices and manufactury of Doulton, Lambeth, later to become Royal Doulton.
I have created this montage of the tiles that run underneath the street-level windows (not shown in the pics above) – they look marvellous all together – tiletastic!
I've written about Doulton's work at other locations here.
Ding dong merrily – mince pies at the ready – time for a bit of self promotion.
I have turned my Covent Garden Christmas lights tour into a virtual experience – Find it here.
More dates to be added through to 6th January. See the schedule here.
I'm also more than happy to lead the tour on foot – please do get in touch.
Travelling through Central London recently, admiring the view from the top deck of a bus, I couldn't help but notice the huge redevelopments are happening at the moment and how many gaping great holes there are in the ground. Covid-19 does not appear to have restricted the construction industry.
Turning the corner into Charing Cross Road, the new build around Tottenham Court Road station continues. Chunky great glass things replace the much-missed Astoria Theatre (which was my favourite live music venue) and other buildings and small streets in the vicinity. The huge glasshouse entrances to TottCtRd station still look out of place and out of alignment with their tall neighbour and it's evident that the glass within them has yet to be cleaned. Such a silly design – how could you clean them anyway? Why do these things need to be so tall and ugly? Consider and compare the flamboyant yet understed Metro entrances in Paris.
Keep travelling with me here. Buildings between Centrepoint and Denmark Place have evolved considerably of late. Denmark Street as a centre for live music has diminished considerably and Tin Pan Alley is no more. Opposite, on the corner of Manette Street, the pink-faced replacement for the Foyles
building looks to be
almost complete. Hurrah, at least, for the elegant beauty of the 1930s Central School of Art, now Foyles new home.
Don't get me wrong, I am not against change, I like to see the patchwork of history – all this knock down and replace is nothing new. Leases expire, buildings become unfit for purpose etc and need to be replaced. The Victorians, and the Georgians before them, rebuilt whole streets and, just pre-WWII there was another construction boom, but the amount of change happening at the moment in Central London is, for me, quite shocking.
And so we continue to Cambridge Circus and turn right into Shaftesbury Avenue. All looks to be as was until crash bang boom, the whole of the block behind Piccadilly's iconic advertising hoardings has been reduced to just that – an almost two-dimensional sign:
And, so, over into Piccadilly itself. Nothing to report until we get to the Ritz. There is a big development with Caffe Nero on the corner here is covered in plastic, I know not why, and then further along at the corner of Half Moon Street the red brick building's façade is all that remains. Though, as you can see from this older streetview there have been hoardings around it since at least 2008; it had been in a poor state for decades.
I decided after that to just look left at the park
It's just occured to me that I have efffectively taken you on a free virtual tour!
The whole riverside stretch between Battersea Bridge and 'Vauxhall Village' is today a
swathe of new build, the old power station being only one of a few old
buildings left standing in the area. A while back I wrote a provoacative piece suggesting they should pull the thing down. After all, if this building is so revered how come it was left open to the elements as a ruin for decades?! I followed up my thoughts in 2013 and then again in 2014. Why has this building become the famous one when so may like it were demolished completely? Consider, for instance, that the Lots Road Power Station has been empty for decades. Does this have anything to do with popluar culture? Pink Floyd? Or is it that the site was so huge that no-one was prepared or could afford to take it on?
A few weeks ago on one of those lovely bright, crisp, sunny, winter days, I had an urge to walk along the river from Battersea to Waterloo* and this afforded me the opportunity to have a nose in at the what's happening. It was a glorious day and everthing looked marvellous. And there were hardly any people about. And it was quiet. And I like it like that.
I followed the Thames Path into the main area of new build at the side of the railway arches filled with restauarants and food outlets but closed for business due to Coronavirus. Just a few people about, walking their dogs and enjoying the sunshine. I wandered around for over an hour and exited the site via Nine Elms Road where this old electrictity box sits.
Do go and have a wander through yourself. There is one-way pedestrian route through the site. Bear in mind that there are still a lot of buildings yet to be started and these will, as I mentioned in my earlier piece, obliterate the view from the Wandsworth side. So I'd advise you get there while the main building is still visible.
A nice addition is the old coaling jetty which has been tranformed into a decked garden complete with seats and flowers and excellent views, but at the moment it's only one way in and the same way out again. I hope that this will be connected to the Thames Path in due course. Note the dockers' mistresses along the edge the looking like topless sunbathers who have got a bit burnt. More here.
Adjacent to the jetty they've installed lots of low level planting and strange triangular raised ponds which offer interesting reflections of the power station. The broken reflections in the new glass buildings are also intriguing. The zig-zag walkways are a bit annoying though. I am fairly sure that people will very quickly make desire paths to cut off the pointy corners.
When I first moved to the Holloway area back in 1988 I lived at the eastern end of Marborough Road, near its junction with Hornsey and Hanley Roads. My bus stop back from work in the West End was the one just south of Bavaria Road at a time when the bus was a 14A and went all the way to Chelsea (what a fab, long route!). I used to like looking at the hints of history in the area but didn't look into it until many years later. I subsequently moved to another address near to Holloway's Nags Head shopping area but I still have cause to walk the same roads, often when I am headed up to or back from Crouch End, which used to be part of Hornsey, hence the road name.
Last month I was coming back down the hill and I noticed that the Hanley Arms, which is now an Islamic place of worship, has been given a much-needed lick of paint. It had for years been looking rather sad and I had always worried that the lovely black metalwork over the doors showing the pub name and the saloon bar would get further damaged over time or, worse, be removed comletely. As these pics show, the owners have seen fit to enhance in gold paint that the building was once a pub, which seems at odds with its purpose these days.
|Pics all 2020 exc bottom right showing when it was still a pub|
The road has changed a lot since I arrived here. Today the eastern side is mainly fast food outlets, but I recall many more and varied shops in the late 80s. But it certainly wasn't as vibrant a street as it was 100 years before that, with shops all the way up to Hornsey Rise and down to Holloway and beyond, with pubs at almost every junction. For instance, on the opposite side of the road to the Hanley Arms was The Alexandra on the corner of Bavaria Road, then called Blenheim Road, as shown by the old painted road sign.
|Bottom left 2020, bottom centre and right 2008|
A panel on the side of the old pub building shows The Alexandra advertised itself as a 'COFFEE TAVERN'. I assume from this that this was a more genteel kind of place with tablecolths and attracted ladies. The pub was converted to commercial use. By the late 1980s, it was a locksmith's shop which continued to trade into the early 2000s, complete with a large advertisement for key cutting and 5-lever locks and whatnot on the north-facing side of the premises at ground level. By the time I photographed the sign in 2008 it was extremely faded. It's now completely gone having been over-painted, probably at the same time as another storey was added to the top of the building.
The coffee tavern sign reminded me that on a rainy day in 2011 I'd spotted a faded sign on at high level on No.418 that showed the feint letters LADIES SALOON. I could make out a name above ending "...ETTS" – I stupidly never returned to take better pics and it's now been over-painted. Damn.
|Hornsey Road ghostsigns – NatWest Bank, Ladies Saloon, The Plough. All 2020 exc middle top.|
This looks to be a late-Victorian-Edwardian establishment – a quick bit of delving shows me that Walter Betts had a coffee shop at No. 422 until 1905. By 1906 the same establishement is owned by Charles Watson. Note that the sign is not above the coffee shop but instead above what was then Emil Kober's hairdresser shop at No.418. It looks like a clever bit of inter-business was happeninging here – ladies could get their hair done and then retire to rooms on the upper floors for drinks, provided and served by the esatablishment two doors up the road. How lovely.
As you walk along the road today, you can clearly make out how this was
once a busy high street with shops of every kind. As shown above,
there's even the hint of a branch of NatWest and further along at the
junction of Tollington Park there's what's left of The Plough public
house. The entrance to the stables at the rear has been filled in for
decades now and it's again one of those places I wish I'd photographed
back in 1988 when the cobbled access was still viable leading to the
rear of the pub.
I'll leave it there. Any extra info and memories most welcome.
Money – a sore point for most of us in today's financial climate.
Shops are closing down as businesses fold, unable to sell the stock to pay the rent. Many people have lost their jobs and just don't know what to do next. Most of us are having to tighten our purse strings finding new ways to survive. Apart from the supermarkets, the charity shops might be the only ones doing OK these days.
For me, the world of graphic design for print has taken a bashing and hardly anyone wants to come out for a guided walk. And the sales of my cards and prints is nowhere near what it was this time last year. Chin up, as they say. We're all in it togther (?!).
Oh gawd, I've just thought of that awful song used by that gurning politician,
but in the meantime, I'll get back to all those DIY jobs I have been
putting off and I need to load up some more stuff from my cupboards to online selling sites.
Last week I was contacted via Twitter about a ghostsign at the rear of a property in Hornsey Road. Archway Ramblings @UpArchway asked if I knew any more about an old painted sign visible from Bracey Street. Well, this was the first I knew about it, which is not surprising seeing as Bracey Street is a little back street that I have rarely ever used, and the sign fairly inaccessible.
|H....ELL, TEA MERCHANT....... 408 Holloway Road. Photo: @UpArchway|
A quick bit of sleuthing and it turns out this was Henry Dell who had a grocery shop here at 450 Hornsey Rd, a few doors up from Thorpedale Road, today a launderette.
|647-665 Holloway Rd, 1882 |
|647-665 Holloway Rd, 1939|
Moving fast forward to 1939, I see Henry Dell [and/or his family] is still going strong. The Hornsey Rd shop is listed as "Dell's Store's" and the shop at 657 Holloway Rd is battling for custom with two similar grocery shops next door, namely Liptons, a well-known country-wide chain, and David Greig** the provisions company founded in Hornsey. As for the shop at 408 Holloway Rd, by 1939 it's listed as a restaurant with Mullholland's shoe shop also shown at the same address so I think we can assume that Dell's restaurant was on one of the upper floors.
Some photographic ref would be nice, but I can't find any right now. The Dells might have been trading in the area earlier than 1882 and I don't know if they continued after WWII. So I'll have to leave it there – Henry Dell, a successful family business, established in Holloway for at least 60 years. Nice.
Thanks again to Archway Ramblings for bringing this to my attention.
*I refer to this kind of thing on my Mr Pooter's Holloway guided walk about the book 'A Diary of a Nobody' where the characters of 1888 are living at a made-up place called Brickfield Terrace – I have some very good ideas where this could have been along this busy thoroughfare.
**DG shops are a bit of a 'thing' with me. Note to self; collate and post about the company here – any additional info you might have will be gratefully received, and credited.
Really. Seriously. I often wonder what are we doing here.
By 'we' I mean humans. What do humans actually do for the planet in a postive way (apart from trying to fix the mistakes of the past)? What other animal causes such devastation to other flora and fauna? And all in the name of progress. Sigh.
Anyway, here are some of my favourite London manicules pointing the way to who knows where. A few of them have since been lost to us, whether through renovation of demolition.
Last week I went to New Southgate Cemetery to find the grave of someone I am researching. I got the tube to Arnos Grove, one of Charles Holden's marvellous Art Deco masterpieces, and I headed north. As I walked north up Brunswick Road I mused how reasonably new the area was – it all looks to have been built in the late C19th and then added to in mid-C20th.
|See my warped and stretched version below|
Squinting at it, and no doubt looking like I was casing the joint, I could see a large name at the top: LANDER. Other words quickly led me to ascertain that this was a sign for a stone mason connected to the cemetery. I stood there for a while making scribbled notes as I tried to decipher the specific wording, but the angle and the faded areas at the very top and far left/rear made it rather difficult. It did cross my mind to knock on the door to speak to the occupants and ask for access to the rear but I hesitated, and if you don't do those kind of things immediately they just don't happen.
A. K. LANDER
(Monumental something?) CEMETERY OR BURIAL GROUND
(...) UNITED KINGDOM. MEMORIALS CLEANED & REPAIRS
(...) ENGRAVED - ESTIMATES FREE. FOR DESIGNS &
(?prices please visit?) OFFICE & WORKS 1 FRIERN BARNET RD
Similarly, I do not know whether the family had a direct connection to the pair of old houses in Brunswick Park Road. The Landers might have simply hired the wall as advertising space being as it provides a perfect sightline from the cemetery where prospective clients might be choosing a burial plot or looking after a family memorial. A company by the same name still trades today but is based in Basildon Essex. Even though they make mention of being founded in 1866 I can see nothing on their site about Friern Barnet or Southgate.
And the grave I was looking for? Well, it turns out I was looking in the wrong cemetery! Never mind – it was nice wandering around New Southgate Cemetery and, should you ever need to find information there yourself, the staff in the office are really helpful and friendly, and funny too.
|A little bitof Photoshop action here – the quality of the image isn't really good enough as regards the focus/sharpness at the left/rear|
I've been wondering why I've not been getting comments this blog. Yes, I had set it up for comments approval but I've had no emails about this in, ooh, I dunno, about a year. Surely someone out there must have something to say in return, especially as I occasionally write things to be purposely provocative!
This morning I decided to look into this. I first checked to see if it was possible to post a comment on here. Yes, no problem, just some annoying thing about having to include and email address and a password which I thought was probably in itself dissuading people from giving feedback. So I thought I'd best change that and make it simpler. I looked into my settings and confirmed that my comments are indeed still set up for moderation pre-publication, but I also saw that I have thousands of messages to approve, and these are mostly from companies or individuals spamming me in badly written english with links to products and services that are irrelevant to the post they are written under. Hidden in amongst those are comments from real people responding to my thoughts and observations – thank you so much!
I have discovered some good feedback on posts I have written about Holloway Memories, the carvings at Cecil Sharpe House and shops in Ilford shops
and more – to those of you who wrote to me and provided such
useful and interesting feedback, I apologise for not getting back to you
It's great that I haven't been talking to myself all this time, but this clean-up/assessment process is going to take ages. For the past hour I have been trying to weed out the good stuff from a deep well of rubbish, and I have barely scratched the surface. This is going to take me many more hours yet because the silly 'system' on here is set up such that each comment has to be assessed individually whether to publish/spam/delete – there's no way to just check multiple boxes to do actions in one swoop. This is further exacerbated because every time I try to delete a comment it gets questioned with a subsequent 'are you sure?' pop-up, each one I mark as spam takes seconds to slowly dispappear as the list resets itself and, worse still, whenever I find a genuine comment to approve, the damn list whooshes back up to the somewhere near top (eh? why?) and I have scroll down to find my place again. Aaargh!
I promise to respond to all the real feedback, which will gradually be appearing as approved comments, after I have finished this tedious task...
UPDATE: ooh the irony... the spammers have been submitting comments to this post which, for the reasons above, don't get published. Bless them, they obvioussly can't read!
There are a lot of discarded mattressses on the streets this year. I've also noticed many ads for mattress companies selling products made with their own version of layered foam*. I suggest people are buying new mattresses and then just chucking the old one outside, hoping the local council will just clear up their m[attr]ess.
|All of these have something to do with beds, even if I simply found them on a street with 'Bed' included in the name. Damn – I just realised I forgot to include a pic of bedding plants at Regents Park. Oh well.|
*Can someone please explain the bizarre term 'memory foam' especially in regards to mattresses – what is it memorising exactly, and how can you change your position if it memorises the first shape you made (ha ha)? Surely these are no good for hotels! And, within shoes, surely no memorising is needed at all – moulds to your foot shape and that's it, job done. In a world of anti-plastic and recycling, is this stuff even ethical?
|Holloway Odeon, 2020 renovation, main tower and entrance on the Tufnell Park Road side|
|The new window frames look marvellous but the black-edged canopy above street level has frilled edges|
|More views of the canopy along the Tufnell park Road side – juddery curves and wobbly straights|
|Silky reflective paintwork over the tiles along the TufPkRd side already has has patches of repair. And under the canopy by the main door at the corner a strip has been cut to go round old wires that feed through an air brick. These wires are probably not even functional any longer. Note also how the thin strip veers away from the wall and has been snipped to make it bend back again. Was this really the most effective way to do this?!|
|Canopy at the corner over the main entrance. The two curved sections have a gap between them and where the white ceiling panels meet the wall they are not cut at the correct angle, leaving thin triangular holes. Also note other bits of wire that could have been tidied up, plus dodgy curved [black] edges and filthy original tiles etc.|
|Canopy at main door. The curve on the underneath is not a curve – surely there are products available that can achieve a soft arc? Are there no artisans who can produce better quality results with the materials at hand? And, on the front on the right hand side of the main canopy, there is vertical gap, though strangely not parallel, where the panels do not meet. And again, more of those snips in the curves. Is this a literal/visual example of "cutting corners"?|
|Along the Holloway Road side it appears the renovation proper ends as all that is is in evidence is a bit of shoddily applied paint at ground level and some new panels that I had assumed were temporary but now fear are permanent seeing as the cinema opens up next week. Couldn't they at least have cleaned the original tiles and sympathetically repaired all the damage caused by previous panels and fixings?|
|The northern section of the building on Holloway Road. Some bits painted, some bits not, more painted wires, more dirty tiles and unrepaired defects, ends of bits of newly-applied wood, and at the very end, a horrible patchwork corner. This side of the building was originally designed as shops interspersed with doors that provided access to cinema waiting areas below. This negated people having to queue in the rain and reduced congestion on the busy pavement. The area above the green line was a terrace that provided alfreco seating for the restaurant. It really seems like this part of the building has been deemed by Odeon to be of little imporatnce, yet it is a long swathe facing an important A-road – now the messiest part of the building is seen by the most people.|