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Monday, January 31, 2011

It took an American to show us

This statue, just behind the Royal Exchange at Bank is of George Peabody; American born he visited London when he was 32 and made it his home. He is accredited with being the father of modern philanthropy, and his memory lives on in the Peabody Estates around London still. Read about him here.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Sunday, January 30, 2011

We are but shadows

The message on the sundial sums it up. First, this building was a protestant Church for the Huguenots back in 1743, then a Synagogue. And now it is the Brick Lane Mosque.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Funny how things go around, 40 years ago it was all the rage to pull out anything that looked old, good job they were only partially successful. These two shops in Spitalfields are A Gold and Verde & Company. The names are left over from the 19th century, only A Gold provide history on their website:
Built in 1780, the four-storey Grade II-listed house has been home in the past to diamond-cutters, furriers, boot makers, drapers, book-binders and Amelia Gold, an Hungarian Jew who ran a French millinery (hat-making) business. Her 1880's shop sign is still visible across the frontage.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Friday, January 28, 2011

Southwark Cathedral

Although Southwark is a johnny-come-lately cathedral, having been designated as such just since the start of the 20th century, its history is truly ancient, being mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. The building dates from the 13th Century. An engraving from 1616 shows how it stood prominently (and you can see the heads on spikes, too), these days it is very hemmed in.

posted by Ham at 00:41 -- Comments here: 0

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Head Over This Way

Everyone has probably heard of the executions in the Tower of London, but it was only royalty who earned the privilege of a private beheading inside the Tower. Anything less and you had to head over here, to an anonymous patch of ground by Tower Hill station. Here is where the public were entertained by the downfall of the high and mighty. The bronze plaques around the edge mark the names of glitterati who lost their heads here over the 14th to 18th centuries.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


This sculpture is dedicated to the communities and people who worked at the Docks from 1855 - 1983. It is situated outside the west entrance of the Excel exhibition centre and is strikingly realistic.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mind That Gap

I'm pretty sure that the original "Mind the Gap" was here at Bank station, where the platform curves rather a lot. These days, it is even painted on the ground which is quite handy, because they are where the doors open. If you want to find out more tube-y stuff, you can do no better than to visit Going Underground for a Tube miscellany and of course Diamond Geezer for in depth investigations.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Monday, January 24, 2011

The story behind THE London picture

Tower Bridge is synonymous with London. Most people, if asked, might say it was built of stone, but you can see clearly in this shot that the stone is just cladding around the Victorian cast iron heart. The lifting bridge could not have been stone, and it goes up and down maybe once a day or so. But there's something else a little interesting here. The walkway at the top is almost as if the Victorians anticipated tourism. But, when it was built, that was not the reason. The Pool of London docks was so busy back then, that road traffic might be blocked for an hour a time. So, they built in the walkways to allow pedestrians to go about their business. Times have changed.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Winchester Palace

You might well pass by these ruins in Clink Street without a second glance, in which case you would miss an interesting part of London's interweaved history. The palace dates back to the 12th Century, back then bishops had to have a seat in London to keep track of the political trends of the time. The Bishop of Winchester set up shop here, and owned a lot of the land hereabouts. South London increased in importance in the 16th century when entertainment and prostitutes were banned from the City of London. The good bishop licensed the prostitutes on his turf, and they gained the name of "Winchester Geese" as a result. The Crossbones Cemetery where many prostitutes were buried is close by.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 1

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Christchurch, Spitalfields

This impressive church was built as the Stuart's answer to some of the problems posed by immigration. The Protestant Huguenots had recently landed from France, political refugees from persecution. They aroused feelings of disquiet, so the solution was found: build loads of churches. It must have made sense at the time.

posted by Ham at 00:23 -- Comments here: 0

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Heron Tower

We seem to be in a bit of a tall building-fest at the moment. It has its roots in Ken's advocacy of skyscrapers for London, opening the floodgates to demand. The Heron Tower (left) is the tallest building in the city, narrowly shading the title from Tower 42 (formerly the Nat West Tower on the right). In the overall UK pecking order, it stands behind The Shard and One Canada Square.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Towers of London

I promised you views of the Shard from different sites in London, I couldn't resist the visual pun, sorry. This is what it looks like from the north side of the Tower of London, It is amazing how intrusive it appears to be - just hope the final visual effect is good.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The White Tower

The Tower of London is one of the most iconic London sites, suffused with glory and gory detail. It is strange that the actual history, while having its share of gore, is a lot more varied than people expect. The White Tower, seen here from the outside, is the only old part left, the rest having been reconstructed in the 19th Century in a style that felt appropriate for a Medieval castle back then. And yes, this is the part of the Tower used to imprison spies and monarchs. For a large number of years, it housed the King's zoo, until too many people got eaten and the animals were shifted to Regents Park. The Mint used to be here, too, but for a lot of its life it got a bit ramshackle.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Shard, London

The Shard is taking shape, now, and has already taken over as the UK's tallest building. For a short while it will be the tallest building in Europe, but it will be overtaken by one (or maybe two) in Moscow. But consider this - it is only 45th in the world. The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is more than double its height.

It is fascinating how the building changes its aspect as you move around London, I will be bringing you more pictures over coming days, interspersed with others. This view - possibly the best at present is from the Millennium Footbridge.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Monday, January 17, 2011

E marks the spot

The Excel Centre in Docklands is a fantastic exhibition space but somehow has never yet captured the imagination of the public in the way that Alexandra Palace, Earls Court and Olympia have even though the architects tried to make it interesting (like this "E"); I suppose there's time yet. Perhaps they could get a spreadsheet named after it...

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Spillers Millennium Mill

This massive mill broods by the side of the Royal Docks in its crumbling glory. Disused since 1992, it is probably destined to become housing, in the meantime it seems to be common sport to break in and take photos. I shan't be doing that, myself.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Wheel Meet Again

There's a(nother) London Bike Show running at the moment, the last was only in October. I did get free tickets, otherwise, just for the bike show I would have felt robbed, it was a bit ...meh. But, it was joint entry not just with the Outdoors Show - which was excellent, but the Boat Show !?! Not the most obvious bedfellows. And if you're wondering, the wheels on the right cost about £1,000 each.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sunday Best

I spied this lady in her Sunday finery on my way to catch a train. She is obviously off to her church, I suppose she sings (maybe they all do in her church?) and that bag in her right hand is full of food. I could be converted ....

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

That's The One!

This is by way of being a public service announcement:If you see anyone winning money in a street game of "Find The Lady" or any variant, they are confederates of the shysters looking to take your money. It amazes me that they manage to find some poor sap just about every time, but I suppose that at least they provide an education for the money. These con-artists were on the Southbank by City Hall, and I'm pleased to say that they were foreigners.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Rising from a flame

This phoenix is onthe south face of St Paul's Cathedral. While Wren was building the cathedral, he used the stone from the old St Paul's and inscribed on one of them was the Latin you see here - "Resurgum" - "I Shall Rise Again" which was the inspiration behind this. I find the layers of meaning, with this church rising from the old one destroyed in the Fire of London and the theist vision somewhat warming. Oh, and as an aside, the Latin name was used for one of the early Victorian experimental submarines. I like that, too.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Monday, January 10, 2011

An Old Flame

This gas light is outside Dennis Sever's House in Spitalfields, which is an interesting simulacrum of a relic from a different age. Created by Dennis Severs, an American storyteller who loved London, the rooms are re-creations of the different ages and times of the house, made up as if the people had just left a moment before. Read more about the house here and read his obituary here.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 1

Sunday, January 09, 2011

An Orderly Picture

Well, I had to look up and find out what a Street Orderly (such as this child) was. As it was a Victorian profession, this statue from the 1940's suggests more than a hint of romanticism. You can read more about what their job was like, here.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Rock The Casbah

Strangely enough this eastern scene is still in Curzon Street, proof it were needed of how cosmopolitan London is at every level. And if you want to see that video with the armadillo, here.

posted by Ham at 00:20 -- Comments here: 2

Friday, January 07, 2011

A Snuff Picture

The houses in Curzon Street, Mayfair, have been there for quite some time, some still have their street lighter snuffers in their doorways. I can't ever pass these by without remembering the I-Spy books, one of which contained the requirement to spot one of these snuffers. Gosh, I can even remember some of the codes...."Ohud Nutingo" was "Good Hunting". A couple of moments searching turns up the fact that they are still about:

posted by Ham at 00:33 -- Comments here: 0

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Nowhere Else

I think there is something very London about this shot, and I don't know quite what. By rights, it ought to look foreign - French or Spanish, maybe - perhaps it is the pub in the background?

posted by Ham at 00:14 -- Comments here: 1

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Bye Bye Christmas!

As Twelfth Night approaches and we say goodbye to the Christmas season for another year, it is probably best that we don't dwell on the past too much. Prorsum!

posted by Ham at 08:44 -- Comments here: 0

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Atrium Shopping

In the absence of any hard information, I'd like to lay claim for the invention of atrium stores for London and Terrence Conran. As far as I know, he was the first to make the bold step of carving huge chunks out of store space, replacing the old storerooms with display space, stacking all the stock together with the items to be sold. It is part of our vocabulary of shops these days, but it was hugely innovative when it first started.

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 0

Monday, January 03, 2011

I'm on the top of the world....

Holiday snap time, I'm back. So this is at least half of why I enjoy skiing so much - the idea of climbing to the top of the world and throwing yourself off is somewhat strange, and the way that skis and snow give you the ability to range the mountains in ways you could never dream of otherwise is truly fantastic.

And, while I'm up there this song often plays through my mind, I can never escape the poignancy of the contrast between Karen Carpenter's amazing voice, the lyrics and the reality of her life. (For those unaware, the Wikipedia link)

Thanks all for dropping by while I was away, and thanks for all the messages. A very happy and healthy New Year to you all.

posted by Ham at 10:34 -- Comments here: 0

Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Runner Up

This was my runner up for best photo of 2010, and being so touristy I thought it deserved a re-run.

Off skiing for a week, pictures will continue. Back soon!

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 3

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Year Theme Day - Best Photo of the Year

Happy New Year to all, and it is a Worldwide City Daily Photo theme day again - this time best photo of 2010. I'm useless at choosing my own pictures, but I thought I should try to choose one that epitomises this blog: to be both a reasonable photo, and something very much of London. Using that criteria, I ended up with this one of City Hall.

To see what other around the world chose, Click here to view thumbnails for all participants

Off skiing for a week, pictures will continue. Back very soon!

posted by Ham at 00:02 -- Comments here: 2

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Name: Ham Location: London, United Kingdom View my complete profile


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