27 November 2013

Diggin' Design at The Garden Museum

The Garden Museum's Winter Fayre 'Diggin' Design' takes place this year on Sunday 1st December.
The lovely converted church of St Mary's, Lambeth, home to The Garden Museum, is situated between Lambeth Bridge and Lambeth Palace, close to some architecturally interesting, but now defunct, buildings such as the old fire Brigade HQ and The Doulton factory (shown above 2nd middle and 3rd bottom respectively). It's well worth a visit, even if you aren't a gardener yourself as the café there is just lovely, as is the knot garden.

You've guessed it... now comes the self promotion...
After the success of the Garden Museum's summer event, shown in some of the images above, yours truly will be there again on Sunday touting her Amelia Parker wares. The range has expanded... there are now colourful beaded necklaces and elasticated unisex bracelets, plus leather wallets in three sizes, many of which have touch screen windows for smart phones.
Christmas cards and the new range of Clay Pipe Pete and textural pattern greeting cards will also be for sale from the stall. If you are interested but cannot make it to Diggin' Design please see the website for other dates.
(promo ends!)

25 November 2013

The Economist Plaza and Nic Fiddian Green's large horses

I was just looking for info on Southwark Cathedral for a future post and found a piece about Nic Fiddian Green's 'Christ Rests In Peace' that was installed there during lent earlier this year.
This reminded me that in July I walked up the steps on the east side of St James's Street, SW1, to take a closer look at Nic's fabulous large bronze horse head in the middle of Economist Plaza. It was beautiful, as per his other, even bigger, horse head in the middle of the Marble Arch roundabout.
I sat and admired the bronze for quite a while and took some snaps with my phone, wishing I had my proper camera with me. Nic appears to be fixated with horses, but hey, he does them so well.
The Grade II listed plaza isn't square but sort of L-shaped; it has a mix of old Georgian bow-backed buildings and glass office blocks, yet they sit together well and this makes it a lovely place to just sit and look at the latest art which has been installed there.
Also worth seeing in the other corner of the plaza that day was 'Eclipse', a water-powered piece by Angela Conner which I found mesmerising.
Here are my photos:

14 November 2013

Philanthropy: The City Story at The Charterhouse

There is an interesting exhibition on at the Charterhouse at the moment that has been put on by the City of London's Corporation charity City Bridge Trust. It's full of information about entrepreneurial people who, by donating their time and money to those less fortunate than themselves, have helped to make London what is today.
Learn about banker George Peabody, City merchant Thomas Gresham, Dame Alice Owen, banker (Good) Henry Hoare and many others including, of course, Thomas Sutton (1532-1611), who was the wealthiest commoner in England in his day and left a large chunk of his wealth to Charterhouse in his will. His gorgeous tomb, embellished with wonderful carvings and statuary can be seen in the chapel which is also open to the public during the exhibition.
Admission is free.
Open Wed–Sun every week – last day 30th November.
There are guided tours of the Charterhouse at 3pm (exc Wednesdays).
Above are some images of the Charterhouse and the general area including one of Doulton's beautifully-tiled pubs and two nearby trademen's shops – a bookbinder and another selling artist materials. The last two images, bottom right, show buildings that have, sadly, been demolished for Crossrail.   

11 November 2013

Old pub buildings

Some my earliest posts on Jane's London were about old pubs. I was, and still am, fascinated by pubs that have the old name still visible somewhere, yet now have a new name (why?!) or have converted into residential or a completely different business use.
The Gentle Author wrote recently about what he calls 'dead pubs' (see here and here) and this has provoked me to revisit my file of what I call 'ghost pubs' (see explanation at the foot of this post*).
So here are some more... I have been careful not to repeat the ones that I collected for Time Out in 2008, or those mentioned on Spitalfields Life.
This collection is restricted to pubs that were, at the time I took the photo, something other than a pub, yet the original name was still there.
(Some of these may have changed use again since the photos were taken):
Top row:
The Alexandra Coffee Tavern, Hornsey Road – was a locksmiths, now empty
The Rising Sun, Wapping High Street / Garnet Street – wine bar – check out the clay pipe smoker
The Crown, Borough High Street – London Institute of Technology and Research
The Old King Lud, Ludgate Circus – bank and café 
Middle row:
The York, Kennington Road – dental surgery
The Black Horse – St Pancras Way – flats
The Knights of St Johns Tavern, St John's Wood – florist
The Elephant and Castle, Vauxhall – "coffee" shop
Bottom row:
The Blomfontein, Gt Chapel St, Soho – café restaurant
The Unicorn, Hoxton High Street – pizzas
The Round House, Wardour Street – club/disco
Jack Straws Castle, Hampstead – fitness club

All of these photos can be found here.
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*There is a difference of opinion about the use of the word 'ghost' in this way. 
'Ghost signs' are seen my many as being restricted just to faded brick ads, but I believe any old name, sign, advertisement etc, that is still visible but but no longer relevant is a ghost from the past – I include old shop fascias, signs, reliefs and ads. But I do not includes those signs that have been tarted up or re-painted as in the case of a few in Covent Garden, WC2.

7 November 2013

A garden across the River Thames

Earlier this year I watched a programme on TV about a fanciful idea to construct a parkland walk across the Thames between the bridges of Waterloo and Blackfriars.
Joanna Lumley takes credit for the idea and in the programme she was seen in meetings with Thomas Heatherwick (he of the Routemaster and the Olympic Cauldron). They mused over scale models and stood on the river discussing how lovely it could be. But it would cost £60million.
Last Friday 1st November, the plans were officially announced – it transpires they underestimated the cost as the figure now quoted is £150million which, to quote Lord Davies, Chairman of this scheme, is "a lot of money".

Well, it's all very lovely, and Ms Lumley says, "thrilling", but haven't we got got better things to be to be spending this sort of money on? I thought we were in a slump, scrabbling around to pay for road maintainence, health care, transport etc. And where is this obscene amount of dosh going to come from? I suspect from foreign investors, or the huge percentage of rich Malaysians, Russians and other rich businessmen who hail from the Far East and live here a few months of the year.
We have until December 20th to find out if this will come to fruition.
If it does go ahead I expect we will see a lot of similar 'iconic' structures popping up all over the world, just like what happened with the Millennium Wheel / London Eye – like this and this, each one aiming to be the biggest, highest, longest etc.

5 November 2013

Voting now open for Ghostsigns calendar

As above... voting is now open for Sam's 2014 Ghostsigns Calendar.
There are some great images to choose from from all around the world.
Be sure to cast your vote by Friday 22nd November.
There are still a few days left to submit your own photos.

Here are some of my shots of London ghostsigns featuring old ads for Gillette razors:

Update on Battersea Power Station

I read in The Times that work had started on the "regeneration" of Battersea Power Station and the land that surrounds it.

The phone snapshot above is from that article (dated 27th October 2013) and illustrates that, with the help of some well-respected UK architects, the Malaysian owners are spending billions to turn the area into yet another sea of boxy apartments and shopping malls full of [I suspect] designer brands for rich people. Oh and they need spaces to put on lavish events – see the clipping, right, also from the same article. Need I say more?
As you can see the old Art Deco building is going to be swamped by the modern buildings. The four reconstructed chimneys, one of which I hear will have a viewing platform or something on the top (how much will that view cost?!) will probably be the only part of the building visible from the South.

Here's a link to a post I wrote  almost 3 years ago to the day about on here about my concerns for this site (and my suggested solution!).
I just recalled the film Sympathy For The Devil where in some scenes the old derelict site can be seen full of scrap car merchants etc. And, I may be going mad but I pretty sure the site was also used as a location in a Bob Hoskins film; either Mona Lisa or Long Good Friday, both excellent films, and worth revisiting for a bit of late-70s/early-80s old London-spotting.

More about Battersea Power Station here:
BBC report
Battersea Power Station's official site

4 November 2013

Up and down the City Road, in and out of The Underground Cookery School

One evening last week I spent a very good evening with a group of other bloggers at The Underground Cookery School.
The School offers a relaxed environment where, led by trained chefs, people can learn new culinary skills. Classes are tailored to suit all skill levels.
There's canapés and prosecco on arrival and a lovely meal at the end, washed down with plenty of wine, so it's also a great idea for private parties, birthdays, hen nights, team-building events, etc.  
On the night I was there we were split into three sub-groups  to learn how to make the three courses we would be eating there later that evening – we made the pasta for Ravioli with Pumkpin, prepared and cooked the meat for the Pheasant Casserole and carefully mixed the ingredients for the Pear Soufflés.
It's made me want a pasta machine of my own. But ooh they are expensive. How much pasta do I need to make to recoup the cost?
The Underground Cookery School is in City Road very close to The Eagle, featured in the famous rhyme (see bottom left). Below are pics I have taken in the vicinity of the school. although some of these features have since changed or been removed.