#03: Elephant & Castle – 25/04/2018

On a roll, and time to travel ‘Sarf (south) of the river’, this time to the southerly end of the Bakerloo Line at Elephant and Castle. An area known for its social deprivation and regeneration, and an area I was somewhat familiar with having worked in the vicinity some time ago. My visualisation, in preparing my travels, was that of a shopping centre in the middle of a roundabout surrounded by high rise office blocks and social housing. My plan was to circumnavigate the area before venturing into the centre.

There’s something about the Bakerloo Line exit here that, for me, epitomises the older tube travelling as you have to navigate the winding tile lined corridors with matching colour splashes representing the infamous map colours (which came first?). They invoke a sense of history and retro architecture that far surpasses the modernist, and almost soulless concreted health & safety approach of places like Westminster.

I wander somewhat aimlessly turning right out of the station in a clockwise route past Skipton House, NHS England HQ, around the corner past London South Bank University to where an impressive new build with a living wall has been crafted onto its entire east face.

Across the road past the Salvation Army and around the back streets past the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star (note – religious theme continues) to New Kent Road and then around the building site currently known as Elephant Park into Heygate Street and Walworth Road. The area is steeped in history with references to Michael Faraday cropping up in several places (least of all the naming of the memorial in the central roundabout known as Elephant Square). The efforts in regenerating the area expose a diverse architectural style with each architect looking to stamp their own mark in sympathy with their surrounds. Some creative use of space can be seen under the railway arches in Spare Street where Hotel Elephant has been modelled for ‘Creative Entrepreneurs, Start-ups and Graduates’.

Turning back heading north to the shopping centre, but not before exploring The Artworks Elephant, ‘a creative hub for the vibrant and diverse community’. One of many repurposed shipping container complexes popping up over London. Colourfully providing small work areas for diverse food outlets and creative folk working independently: a stimulating experience and worth a wander around as there’s something different to see everywhere.

Hopped onto the main line station platform to take in the uninterrupted panoramic view of London, but those who know London and look south will see a tall clad building with three circles at its top; and like me often wondered what is it? The iconic Strata SE1, nicknamed the ‘Razor’ is a housing complex completed in 2010; its three wind turbines, designed to generate 8% of the buildings energy needs, have remained stationary since 2014 – hmmm.

Journey’s end, and into the shopping centre, which has become an unloved throw-back of the 1960’s. In its heyday, it was the praised for being the first covered shopping mall in Europe, but today it has become a reflection of social deprivation and a lack of investment. Those stall workers in and around the centre have a clear sense of purpose and seem full of life peddling their wares, but despite theirs and the centres best efforts in brightening up the vicinity, there is a general air of depression and gloom about the place. I mean not to offend, but just expressing a personal view here and would welcome comments, views and invitations to demonstrate differently.

For more info, look up Elephant & Castle on Wikipedia

See all Elephant and Castle pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

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