What was supposed to be (2)

Continuing where we left off..

When last you saw me I had bedded down for the night and it is now Friday morning. All around me is solitude. The world has come to an end? nope. It is just the coronavirus lockdown. Anyway, I am now continuing with my virtual trip around London that would have happened if a pandemic hadn’t broken out.  Theoretically either on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday I would have managed to get my passport renewed and had some time to kill. Theoretically I would have either gone to the renewal office in Whitehall or had the whole day to spare. 

I did not have hard and fast plans for my 2nd free day, and my trip to Nunhead was really inter-changeable. I did however have another cemetery on my list to visit and it is an interesting one that I picked up on in 2013 and which I always wanted to return to. Between when I was there in 2013 and now the status quo has changed and I would possibly be able to get to see behind the walls of Crossbones Graveyard.   

In 2013 I had wanted to join in an evening vigil that was to take place on the 23rd of March but came down with a chest infection on the day before. I left London at the end of March so my 2nd visit never happened. Between then and now Crossbones has gained a website and it is possible to visit the site on most weekdays between 12 and 2, assuming that there are wardens to open the gates. I do not know what drew me to this site, there was just something strange about it. 

Crossbones was on my list of places to visit on this trip but alas things have gone wobbly yet again.

There were a few other choices open to me if I had free time. I could have visited any of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries in London, or taken in a museum or three, maybe even taken in a show or a gallery? I was considering taking a boat trip down the Thames to the Thames Barrier, but that was based on when trips were available and where they left from. 

“The Thames Barrier is a movable barrier system that is designed to prevent the floodplain of most of Greater London from being flooded by exceptionally high tides and storm surges moving up from the North Sea. It has been operational since 1982. When needed, it is closed (raised) during high tide; at low tide it can be opened to restore the river’s flow towards the sea. Built approximately 3 km (1.9 mi) due east of the Isle of Dogs, its northern bank is in Silvertown in the London Borough of Newham and its southern bank is in the New Charlton area of the Royal Borough of Greenwich.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thames_Barrier) 

The image above is by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC BY-SA 3.0 dated 6 February 2010 and is an 11 segment panoramic view. 

The last time I was on a boat trip on the Thames was way back in 2008 when I was in London on a business trip. I really wanted to do it again one day but never got down to it so maybe this was the opportunity? The images below are from 2008, and as you can see the weather was grey and gloomy.

As for museums, I would not mind paying a visit to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich again. I was not too enthralled by it last time I was there but there are a few things that I would like to relook. 

And being in Greenwich means that I will also be in spitting distance of the Cutty Sark although I would not do a repeat visit to her although would like to get some new images of her. 

Close to the ship is another remnant that I would like to experience:

This is the entrance to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel that links the south bank of the river with Millwall (London Borough of Tower Hamlets) on the north.  I have never ventured into the Isle of Dogs/Canary Wharf area before so this is one possible way of doing it. I could have taken the Docklands Light Rail too, but the idea of walking under the Thames is very tempting. 

The modern buildings above are part of the Isle Of Dogs developments and that is yuppie and banker clone territory. Wind back towards the 30’s and 40’s that was dockland, and ships abounded. I would really like to see what is left of the docks although may get turned away as I am not a yuppie. 

Talking about tunnels, I recently discovered another interesting artefact in London that I never really took notice of before. 

This seemingly innocuous building was part of the London Hydraulic Power Company and is the entrance to the long defunct Tower Subway. The other end was situated on Vine Street on the South Bank of the Thames.  The 410 m tunnel circular tunnel was dug through the London clay using a cast iron shield, and a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge railway installed  in the tunnel and from August 1870 a cable-hauled wooden carriage conveyed passengers from one end to the other.  Unfortunately this was uneconomic and the company went bankrupt by the end of the year. The tunnel was then converted to pedestrian use and one million people a year crossed under the river, paying a toll of a halfpenny. In 1897 it was sold to the London Hydraulic Power Company and closed in 1898 following the opening of Tower Bridge. Today the tunnel is used for water mains.

The structure is close to The Tower of London and while searching for the pic I came across my images from December 2014 when I went there to see the “Blood Lands and Seas of Red” installation. It was really unforgettable and when completed would have completely surrounded the Tower of London. 

Just across the road at Trinity Square is another symbolic display of red, although it is not related to either of the World Wars. 

I suspect that I would invariably gravitate towards the Thames as the day wore on, or even better headed to Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens, The latter is close to three of my favourite museums: The London Science Museum, The Victoria and Albert Museum and The Natural History Museum.  I have dealt with all three before and they are amazing places. 

Victoria and Albert Museum entrance
London Science Museum
Natural History Museum

The three are also reasonably close to Paddington Station so I am not too far from the hotel in case I decide to limp home dejectedly after 3 days walking and rubber-necking. Actually Kensington Gardens is quite a nice area to stroll through, you can admire the Albert Memorial

Or have a look at Kensington Palace

Admittedly places like that do not really interest me, although I am sure my brother would love to see inside. I have also seen Buckingham Palace from the outside so I am 2 up on him already. 

Now that I think of it, St James’s Park is not a bad place to spend some time either. Apart from the Palace it is a nice open space to unwind in. I also need to get photographs of the South African Royal Artillery Memorial.  Unfortunately it is very difficult to photograph without having somebody else in the picture.  This image was taken in 2008 and when I was there in 2013 those 2 were still there! 

With a bit of navigation you can exit St James’s Park and head into Green Park where the wonderful Bomber Command Memorial is. I photographed it in 2013 and it was a beautiful Memorial. 

and it is not too far from the Commonwealth Memorial Gates.  I really need to do more photography around the gates though, last time around it was perfunctory work and I missed quite a few things that I needed to see. 

On the right hand back of the image above you can see the really splendid Wellington’s Arch and the area around may be seen on the map below.

For a small fee you can go to the top of the Arch and see all of the War Memorials spread around you. I won’t go into detail of them but most are listed on my War Memorials in London page on a@s. And with a bit more road crossing you can then enter Hyde Park and cut across it to one last place that I would like to take in, although there is no guarantee I will be able to get it right and may have to arrange it first. The Hyde Park’s Pet Cemetery is behind Victoria Gate Lodge, adjoining Bayswater Road (Google Earth  51.511840° -0.172403°). Last time I was here I tried to have a look at it but there were construction works in the area and I could not really get to investigate it properly. This time around who knows? It is not open to the general public, although, a special one-hour viewing can be arranged by contacting The Royal Parks. The cost is £60.00 for up to six people. Unfortunately at that price I may give it a miss. I did manage some pics through the fence in 2017 but they don’t really show anything.

I remember looking for the cemetery in 2013 and not finding it, but then I was looking in the wrong place.  Hyde Park was a pretty stark and friendless place when I was there, so maybe I will take a better look at it if I have the time. 

The Memorial in the bottom right pane is the Cavalry Memorial and I did not really photograph it too well, intending to get back later but I never did so will try remedy that this time around. Hyde Park is a big space and there is a lot to see and a lot of ground to cover. Let us hope I manage to hold out and get back to my hotel for some supper and rest

However, with or without my renewal completed I would have to return to Tewkesbury on Saturday morning. Either via Evesham or Worcester. I think I will probably use the former as I can get some shopping done in Evesham at the same time. After all, I still have to get to work on the Monday. However, I created this virtual trip on the day when I was supposed to be in London. Instead we are all having to deal with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and at this moment in time I have no idea when the renewal will play out and I will be able to relook the destinations I have marked in this post. All I can do is hope that we all get through this as soon as possible and that life can return to something resembling normal again.

DRW © 2020. Created 27/03/2020

What was supposed to be (1)

Theoretically if we were’t in the middle of a pandemic I would have been in London round about now. and scoping out the passport renewal queue in Whitehall. But I am now sitting at home having been down with sinusitis since the weekend and self isolating. I think that at this point I can safely say that it is getting to me and I am becoming somewhat down, or more down than normal? Last night I was thinking about the whole state of affairs and thought to myself that I have enough images amongst my collection to make a virtual trip to London without leave the discomfort of my chair. So without ado grab your goodies lets go!!

The journey starts off at Ashchurch for Tewkesbury where I would catch the train to Worcester Shrub Hill, en route to London Paddington. Shrub Hill is quite a large station compared to the nearby Foregate Street station. 

From there the train travels to Evesham, Oxford, Reading, Slough and finally London Paddington. You can see I have visited this line and the stations on it in the past, although Slough has not really fallen inside my sphere of curiosity. Paddington is a familiar destination too as I have to pass through it to get to Heathrow when/if I fly anywhere. 

I would have stayed at the EasyHotel in Norfolk Place from the day I arrived till the Saturday when I would have returned home; leaving me 2 days to renew my passport in. The glorious structure below is the St Mary’s Hospital, amongst others it is the birth place of  Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (born 1984), Prince George of Cambridge (born 2013) and  Princess Charlotte of Cambridge (born 2015) . Nobel Prize winner Alexander Fleming was on it’s staff and it was here that he discovered penicillin in 1928.

My plans for the 3 days were flexible, revolving around the passport renewal, but I did have a rough list of places that I wanted to visit. The Embassy is situated on Trafalgar Square although that is not where the renewal is done.  South Africa House was designed by Sir Herbert Baker, with architectural sculpture by Coert Steynberg and Sir Charles Wheeler,  and it was opened in 1933. I was hoping to get a better image of the building while I was there but that is not going to happen. However, I am grateful to Ronnie Lovemore who could supply me with a great pic of the building.

Getting to the Embassy or Trafalgar Square would have been via the Circle Line of the London Tube. I am quite a fan of the tube, although get confused quite easily because I only seem to use it once  a year!  There is a station underneath Paddington and I would have boarded there and caught it to Embankment Station.

Paddington Tube Station

In the background of the image below you can see the London Eye sticking out with the multiple trestles that come out of Charing Cross Station and then cross the Thames.  Charing Cross is the name of the road junction to the south of Trafalgar Square, and that’s where the station gets its name from. The word Charing comes from old English ‘cierring’, which means ‘turning’, a reference to the bend in the River Thames by the station. 

Embankment Station
Charing Cross Station

Actually I have a slight ulterior motive behind choosing Embankment Station: There is a Japanese take-aways called Wasabi Sushi and Bento there that sells some really nice Japanese food. Also on the embankment is supposedly a statue of Isambard Brunel and of course I wanted to have a look at Somerset House while I was there.  

There is also a very interesting remnant on the Embankment that I wanted to look at: 

Bear in mind that before the massive sewerage works undertaken by Joseph Bazalgette the Thames would have had a slightly different waterline to what it has today. The gateway above marks the position on the north bank of the Thames before the construction of the Victoria Embankment in 1862.  It was built in 1626 by Nicholas Stone as the watergate to York House although York House was demolished in 1675 and streets were laid out on the site. Today the gate is situated in Victoria Embankment Gardens (Google Earth 51.508118°, -0.122873°) and the water of the Thames is now 130 metres away,  There is a memorial to Joseph Bazalgette on the Embankment and I intended adding that to my list of things to find in London. The image below is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license and is attributed to Prioryman and is dated 20/03/2015. 

There are a lot of interesting plaques, Memorials and statues along the Victoria Embankment, worthy of note are:

The Samuel Plimsoll Memorial. The inscription reads: “Samuel Plimsoll, born 1824 – died 1898. Erected by the members of the National Union of Seamen, in grateful recognition of his services to the men of the sea of all nations.” Any ship enthusiast worth his salt is aware of the Plimsoll Line on the side of a ship. (Image by Wualex 2001, and is in the public domain. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterline.  Out of curiosity WNA sands for “Winter North Atlantic”. 

The National Submarine Memorial

And of course one of my personal favourites is the Battle of Britain Memorial.  It is really the sort of memorial that you have to see in person because it has just so much detail in it. 

Assuming I did not get anything done at the embassy on this day I would probably have reboarded the tube and headed towards Monument Tube Station as it is the closest to my next destination. However, I would have deviated slightly at The Monument so that I could see whether I could find some of the plaques associated with the Great Fire of London.  The plaque below is mounted on the building, but there are a number of others in that area that I was not aware of and I want to find them. 

The ultimate goal however was to head to the Leadenhall Market which is roughly 3 blocks North of The Monument. I really would like to have a look at this piece of ancient history which dates from the 14th century and it is one of the oldest markets in London. Personally I think it will be an interesting place to photograph and I have seen some really amazing images of it on the net. The image below was created by “Diego Delso, delso.photo, License CC-BY-SA”  Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leadenhall_Market.  (Image is 1280×917) One of my other favourite places is not too far from here, but I have not decided yet as to whether I would visit it or not. Tower Hill Merchant Navy Memorial is a very special place in my heart. And the rows of names really makes me sad and angry at the same time. I have always wanted to photograph the whole memorial but it is not as easy as it seems. The majority of the World War One casualties plaques are situated in and around the Memorial building as below and trying to photograph them would need a long ladder and infinite patience as well as heaps of yellow tape and a risk assessment. The Memorial was recently restored so it will be nice to see without vegetation growing from the roof. The view below is probably the best I have ever managed to squeeze in that does not have vehicle or pedestrian traffic crossing in front of it. 

Tower Hill Memorial, London

Tower Hill is in spitting distance of Tower Bridge, The Tower of London and of course HMS Belfast.  The smaller ship berthed next to her is HMS Westminster (F237).  I am tempted to visit HMS Belfast again, but I have been on her 4 times already so it is time and energy dependant. 

This little jaunt would probably take me close to peak hour and I would probably get the tube back to my hotel to do some R&R before trying the renewal again on the next day. It can be quite a story getting back to Paddington Station as I can go clockwise or anticlockwise with the Circle Line, and of course once I am back in that area the odds are I will need food! The only really interesting area around the station is “Little Venice“. Alas the food there would be way out of my budget but if it is sunny it is quite nice to stroll about and look at the canal and narrow boats. 

None of this however would be cast in stone because there were all sorts of variables to contend with, and so far the biggest has been Covid19 that has created a worldwide disaster in the making. So everything you see here is theoretically had I been sitting in London on the 25th of March.  Thank you for joining me on this unofficial virtual trip to London.  To be continued…. and don’t forget to please mind the gap. 

Day 2.

Wake up…. rise and shine, hit the tube and stand in the queue! 

When/if I get that done I will technically have the time to myself and there are 2 cemeteries that I wanted to revisit. The first is Nunhead Cemetery and it is pretty much south of where I would be at that point in time. I visited it way back in 2013, and it had been a gloomy and dreary day with remnants of snow all around me. I recall that it was visually an impressive place but the weather ruined my images. ​

I now have another reason to revisit it. Last week while researching graves I discovered that my maternal great grandfather is buried in Nunhead. He died way back in 1929 and if you look at the map in the table is buried more or less opposite that Seventh Day Adventist church. It appears as if he is in a communal grave though so there would really be no way of finding an individual grave. It is also assuming I can penetrate through into that area to have a look. Parts of Nunhead are a regular jungle. Getting to and from Nunhead can be problematic; in 2013 I was living in Kennington so it was just a matter of catching a bus (or 2). This time around I would use the London Overground and grab a train from Victoria Station to Nunhead. 

Victoria Station is another of the terminal stations in London and was built for the London Brighton & South Coast Railway (LBCSR) and the London Chatham & Dover Railway (LCDR). Nowadays it serves the Gatwick Express and is on the Circle, District, and Victoria lines of the tube. The Victoria Coach Station is roughly a block away from it. Unfortunately when I visited it in 2013 it was an island in the middle of large roadworks so getting to and from it was a mission.   

The station is also famous as being the place where the coffin bearing the Unknown Warrior paused overnight en route to London, and there is a plaque commemorating this event on the station. 

Having completed my trip to Nunhead would have left me very tired and rumpled. These trips are not as easy to do as they were way back in 2013, although I recall suffering from shin splints or similar shortly after I got to London. I put lots of miles into my body in that month and saw many things. Depending on time I would probably have headed back to the hotel for a shower and some food.  Let’s call it quits for now and continue tomorrow. 

DRW © 2020. Created 25/02/2020