A brief pause in London (1). August 2020

Continuing where we left off

I arrived at London Paddington Station shortly before 1 am. I had made my base of operations at the Premier Inn at the County Hall but had decided to not use the Tube and settled for a taxi instead. I had him drop me off at Buckingham Palace (hoping for a spot of tea?) as I wanted to photograph the lions on the Victoria Monument.  During the drive to my destination I could not help but notice how few people were around and that the traffic was actually flowing. The taxi driver agreed that it was very unlike London, and even the queues at the ranks had diminished and Paddington Station had been very quiet.

Buckingham Palace

The Queen Victoria Monument in St James’s Park is situated in front of the Palace in St James’s Park.  The monument is 25 metres high and uses 2,300 tonnes of white Carrara marble.  The central monument, created between 1906 and 1924, is by Sir Thomas Brock, but the whole design, including the Memorial Gardens, was conceived by Sir Aston Webb. The Memorial was formally unveiled by King George V in 1911. As well as Victoria, there are statues representing courage, constancy, victory, charity, truth and motherhood; it was those statues that I was interested in.

Image from 2013

I needed them for my post that I created about Lions a few months back and on this trip I was hoping to add more images to that specific post so wont go into more detail here about them.  I then walked down The Mall towards Admiralty Arch and the  South African Royal Artillery Memorial that I had first seen in 2008. I never seemed to have much luck with this Memorial as there were always people around it. I was really after the Rolls of Honour that flank the memorial as I never photographed them properly before.   The Memorial is inscribed: “Erected by the officers and men of the Royal Artillery in memory of their honoured dead. South Africa. 1899-1902.”

That task completed I turned to the National Police Memorial that is situated close by. I had never really had a good look at the memorial before, and I remedied that this time around but will be honest it does not really work for me. However, reading up about it now I suspect it would make more sense at night. 

The Memorial contains the UK Police Roll of Honour behind a glass panel containing the names of approximately 4000 officers killed on duty in the United Kingdom. It was designed by Lord Foster of Thames Bank and Per Arnoldi and unveiled in 2005.  

While I was doing all this photography I could not help being disturbed by the construction noise close by and realised that it originated at nearby Admiralty Arch.

The Arch is one of my favourite buildings in London and I have always wondered what it looked like inside.  It was commissioned by King Edward VII in memory of his mother, Queen Victoria, and designed by Aston Webb and is a Grade I listed building. It served as the residence of the First Sea Lord and was used by the Admiralty. I was aghast when I saw that it was being redeveloped. Apparently  In 2012, the government sold the building on a 125-year lease for £60m for a proposed redevelopment into a Waldorf Astoria luxury hotel and four apartments. I can hear Jackie Fisher gnashing his teeth from here! Yet another landmark flogged off to developers.

When you go underneath Admiralty Arch from The Mall you are faced with the famous Trafalgar Square which is usually teeming with tourists.  Unfortunately the National Gallery building is too wide to  fit in the frame and as you can see there were not a lot of people about. You can also see the heavy clouds that threatened to disgorge their cargo of water on us at any moment.

Usually I avoid this place like the plague but I needed pics of the lions that surround Nelson’s Column. Alas they were draped with the missing tourists and I ended up walking in circles trying to photograph them completely. They belong on my Thinking about Lions Post

There was one new addition to the square that I thought was quite amusing: Heather Phillipson’s vast physical and digital sculpture tops the Fourth Plinth with a giant swirl of whipped cream, a cherry, a fly and a drone that transmits a live feed of Trafalgar Square. Entitled THE END it suggests both exuberance and unease, responding to Trafalgar Square as a site of celebration and protest, that is shared with other forms of life. The live feed of Trafalgar Square picked up by the drone’s camera is visible on a dedicated website www.theend.today giving a sculpture’s eye perspective.  (https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/arts-and-culture/

The other reason that I came to Trafalgar Square was to make sure I knew where to go to renew my passport. Once I had that found I turned my bows towards Embankment Station and the Hungerford Bridge that I need to cross the Thames on.  I had a rough map of the area around the bridge and any useful odds and ends marked down “just in case”. I had however neglected to mark down the Royal Tank Regiment Memorial and chanced upon it quite by accident. I had seen a replica of the memorial at the Tank Museum in Bovington way back in 2014 and this was the real thing.

It was sculpted by Vivien Mallock and is situated in front of the old War Office Building in Whitehall Court, London. 

And not too far from the bridge and station is the Bazalgette Memorial. If ever there was a man who made an impression on London it was  Sir Joseph Bazalgette. The memorial was created by George Blackall Simonds and  is located on the Victoria Embankment.  Sir Joseph was responsible for the Embankment on the north of the Thames, as well as the smaller Albert Embankment to the south. As chief engineer of London’s Metropolitan Board of Works his major achievement was the creation (in response to the Great Stink of 1858) 

The inscription “flumini vincula posuit” translates as  “he placed chains on the river”.

When I said I needed to cross the Thames on the Hungerford Bridge I really meant using one of the more recent, cable-stayed, pedestrian bridges that share the railway bridge’s foundation piers, and which are named the Golden Jubilee Bridges. The pair of 4-metre (13 ft) wide footbridges were completed in 2002 and were named the Golden Jubilee Bridges, in honour of the fiftieth anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession. They are often still referred to as the “Hungerford Footbridges”.

Golden Jubilee Bridges and Hungerford Rail Bridge (image from 2013)

The hotel was situated in the back of the London County Hall which is behind the London Eye. It is a very impressive building and was the headquarters of London County Council (LCC) and later the Greater London Council (GLC).  The main six storey building was designed by Ralph Knott in an Edwardian Baroque style. Construction started in 1911 and the building was opened in 1922 by King George V.  Today it  houses a number of businesses and attractions, including the Sea Life London Aquarium, and the Namco Funscape amusement arcade as well as a Premier Inn and a Marriott Hotel.

I checked into the hotel. It was basic but clean and functional and was just what I needed.  The passport renewal office could be reached from here in about 20 minutes. 

Once I had unpacked and had a cuppa I was ready for the afternoon session. I had really planned to stay in and around Embankment Station as there were a few War Memorials that I wanted to photograph. I also had to find lunch and try to make a turn at Somerset House. It was all do-able depending on how much energy I expended and whether the weather decided to turn nasty. Leaving the hotel I crossed the Thames on the Westminster Bridge although did not do much photography from there as the sun was in the wrong place. I was hoping to get better images on the next day anyway.

My exploration started off by looking for the Korean War Memorial, but purely by accident I found way more than I had expected. For starters I discovered that New Scotland Yard was not where I had seen it last. Since November 2016 New Scotland Yard has been located on the Victoria Embankment in what was formerly known as the Curtis Green Building, and before that Whitehall Police Station, When I saw it last the former “New Scotland Yard” was in the neighbouring 10 Broadway. 

It goes to show mow many more changes have been made since I last came down to London in 2016 to see the RMS St Helena

A number of War Memorials are situated in what is known as the Victoria Embankment Gardens.  I am just posting a general image of each memorial at this point and will deal with them separately on my other blog as time passes.  

The first memorial that I photographed was the Chindit Memorial . It commemorates the Chindit special forces, which served in Burma under Major General Orde Wingate in the Second World War. The memorial was erected in 1990, and also commemorates Wingate, who died on active service in Burma in 1944. 

The next Memorial is the  Iraq and Afghanistan  Memorial and it was unveiled on 9 March 2017 by Queen Elizabeth II. It commemorates British citizens, including both military personnel and civilians, who participated in the Gulf War, the Afghanistan War and the Iraq Warm which took place between 1990 and 2015.  682 British soldiers lost their lives in these conflicts.

Just past it was the Korean War Memorial. It was unveiled in December 2014 and was a gift from the Republic of South Korea. It is a very emotive memorial and I was glad that I had managed to photograph it. On 25 June 1950 the Korean War started and it is a very forgotten conflict. More images on the relevant page.

The Fleet Air Arm Memorial follows this one, and I had to admit I was touched to see that they had been accorded recognition. The achievements of the Fleet Air Arm are many and the memorial commemorates the service of the Royal Naval Air Service and the Fleet Air Arm in the two World Wars as well as the Korean, Falklands and the Gulf Wars. It was designed by James Butler. It was unveiled on 1 June 2000 by Prince Charles.

The park also has a large statue of General Charles G. Gordon, Royal Engineers. who was killed in Khartoum.  I did not really take much notice of the statue as I only really wanted a photograph for my Gordon Memorial in Southampton post.  

Exiting the park I had a quick look “up the road” and spotted another memorial alongside a large imposing building and decided to investigate.  

The Memorial commemorates the Gurkha Soldier and was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II on 3 December 1997.  The memorial is located at the junction with Whitehall Court opposite the main building of the Ministry of Defence in Horse Guards Avenue. More images on the relevant page

During this brief walk I had been in the company of heroes. I had read so much about the service and exploits of the people commemorated on these memorials, and I could not help but feel a bit humbled. 

Later that evening I made an impromptu visit to the Leake Street Arches while looking for sustenance. It was a real visual feast and you can read about it on the relevant post.  

It was time to cross the street and consequently we shall start a new page

DRW © 2020 – 2021. Created 27/06/2020, moved links to musings 20/12/2020

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