#33: Heathrow T4 – 19/12/2018

So this is Christmas♫ in the immortal words of John Lennon. Less than a week to go and this will be my final visit before the celebrations, but by the time I get to publish this, it might be all over and the festive headaches will soon turn to New Year ones. Anyway, Seasons Greetings to you all.

Heathrow T4 is at the end of the recently converted Heathrow Connect service by Tfl rail from Paddington to Heathrow that will make up part of the Elizabeth line once all the connecting tunnels and services are complete. For now it’s an independent service, and I had understood that it would have attracted a nominal fee despite having a 60+ Oyster card; but to my surprise, there was no charge – bonus day out.

Those avid followers out there will know from my earlier visit to T5 back in May that I’d tried contacting Heathrow’s Media Centre seeking their permission to photograph but received no response. I decide to try a different approach this time…

A security tale

Arriving at ‘Departures’, I spot four armed policemen patrolling the area who I approach and explain my dilemma. One of them takes up my cause and explains it’s not for them to decide as they act on the airport’s authority but by rule of thumb if someone doesn’t have a permit, they considered it unlikely. However they contacted Heathrow security who arrived in about 10 minutes. In the meantime, the police check me out against the Police National Computer and to my relief they declare they have nothing on me.

Three security managers arrive and I explain my position and after liaising with their Media Centre, they tell me to complete the online form which will then be dealt with in 24 hours. Hmmm a sense of déjà vu as this is where I had started back in May. Anyway, it’s evident I won’t get permission today; and despite sharing my exasperation with the security managers who agree with me when I show I can’t find the form on their website, I accept I need to do some further digging to find it. We part company.

Time for a coffee, so I grab one at Costa and decide on my next steps. Options include go home, or as I decide, to carry on my visit without photographs. I muse and drop @Heathrow a tweet outlining my consternation, and to cut a long story short, in 10 minutes I’m given permission to take pictures…the power of social media… 🙂

There are some side anecdotes during this protracted exchange though: one policeman shows an interest in my camera as he is also a keen photographer having started life as a fine art student – but he can’t quite explain how he then diverted into the police force. Another from one of the security managers who shares a recent discussion with a traveller trying to find the right terminal at the airport only to learn his flight was a scheduled flight at Gatwick.

People on the move

Heathrow is designed to move people about, by train, by bus, by car, by taxi and by plane, but getting about within and between terminals is quite tiring. This is because of the distances between passenger access points and departure and arrival gates. Some easements have been introduced, through moving walkways and free rail connecting services between all terminals, nevertheless these are only a small comfort for those passengers trying to navigate their way around with two overly large suitcases.

Whilst contemplating earlier in Costa, I strike up a conversation with a mother awaiting the arrival of her children from the middle east and we find we have some commonality through our recent respective employments. Both of us having worked for digital organisations with similar experiences. It’s a small world.

Signage

To help with passenger flow, clear signage is essential and this is something Heathrow does well. However it does rely on one’s ability to read in English and read with comprehension. I mention this as I heard passengers on more than one occasion asking for confirmation of direction from ground staff and other passengers.

Slipstream

Making my way to Terminal 2, I can’t fail but be impressed by a massive hanging sculpture in the cavernous covered concourse outside the terminal. Walking around and underneath it, I try to work out what it’s representing before I stumble across a plaque explaining its title and description.

This is an impressive artwork by the renowned artist Richard Wilson which has been inspired by the world of aviation and captures the imagined flight path of a small stunt plane, and is set to be one of Britain’s most viewed public sculptures, and seen by 20 million passengers a year.

Architecture

Terminals 4 and 2 are cavernous concrete buildings, but their creators have sculptured and hidden all this with creative geometric designs, shapes and glass that brings a new interest to an otherwise unloved material.

Best Picture

For me, the simplicity and symmetry of the roof space in Terminal 4 has an attractive quality that helps define the space. Passengers seem oblivious to the effort made to create this effect as their focus is on ensuring they are in the right zone. The roof is offset by an expanse of glass bringing the outside light in and draws the eye away from this spectacle above.

I hope you enjoy?

See all Heathrow T4 pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

See the sidebar for a sample of Heathrow T4 pics on Instagram

For more info, lookup Heathrow T4 on Wikipedia

#32: Morden – 04/12/2018

South as far as the Northern Line will take me and I arrive at Morden on the edges of Surrey and now part of the London Borough of Merton, and close to Wimbledon. I’ve not been here before so I had no expectations of what to find other than as a National Trust member I am aware of the nearby Morden Hall Park. During the day of my visit, some friends claim via Twitter to have accidentally visited the station after a night out by missing their intended stop en route; I only hope they had forgiving partners…

Suburbia

From the platform through to the typically decorated 20’s/30’s station I admire the standard Underground Roundel above a cavernous entrance hall and sympathetically offset by an elaborate light fitting (see later). The streets of Morden and the immediate surrounds are similar to many other ‘ends of the line’ and I have some difficulty in finding something of particular interest. The main bus station outside the station is where many commuters head for as this end of the line seems to be a short respite for commuters heading elsewhere.

The immediate area is defined by a relatively short figure of 8 road network used to manage the traffic through the area, and shaded reminders of a police campaign to warn of the dangers of drinking and driving are still evident.

Architecture

There are some art deco buildings nearby which typify the style of buildings erected during the area’s period of growth with the advent of the railway at that time, and the strikingly tall 60’s style Civic Centre and Library dominates the immediate skyline. The patterned front is fairly typical of the era, and whilst visually striking and eye catching, I recognise that it’s not to everyone’s taste.

Without realising, I find I’m heading south towards Morden South mainline station as I’m drawn to the towering minarette of The Baitul Futuh Mosque, the largest mosque in Western Europe. As I approach, there’s evidence of extensive building works being carried out here, and I begin to wonder if this is in any way in response to a fire there in 2015 or for some other reason: maybe you can let me know?

Morden Hall Park

The triangular shaped park sits in the north east quadrant on the fringes of the town and is defined by: on the westerly side by a main road, and on its northerly side by the tramline running from Wimbledon and Croydon. There are two tram stops in the park’s confines: Morden Road at the northern tip, and Phipps Bridge half way down the edge of the park.

This is a pleasant woodlanded park with open scrub and tree lined avenues harbouring the River Wandle which meanders from Croydon to Wandsworth where it eventually enters the Thames. Morden Hall, now a private venue for wedding hire, isn’t open to explore, but the surrounding grounds, even on a dull wintry day provides an elegant backdrop for some attractive photos of the manicured lawns, managed waterfalls and visiting wildfowl.

Despite the cold conditions, the park has many visitors enjoying the scenery either out rambling, walking their dogs and/or children, or like me taking photographs.

Garden Centre

The park houses the National Trust’s only Garden Centre which draws in many visitors, and at this festive time, allowing them to enjoy the Christmas themed decorations and providing an easy place to park to buy a christmas tree, or simply enjoy the restaurant facilities. I took the opportunity of wandering around the garden centre’s grounds taking an alternative eye to the shapes and patterns created by the displays and surrounds.

Best Picture

There we have it, a simple and pleasant (albeit cold) sojourn around Morden.

For my best picture, I return to the underground roundel described above. This one, in black and white, I think is evocative of the 20’s/30’s style. I have created It using a ‘vogue’ filter within Google Photos to highlight the contrasting starkness, and I think the individual lights on the hanging display complements the light through the high window as your eye is drawn to the ‘DnuorgrednU’ sign.

Let me know what you think or whether you agree with me?

See all Morden pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

See the sidebar for a sample of Morden pics on Instagram
For more info, lookup Morden and its station on Wikipedia

#31: Elmers End – 26/11/2018

I forget as I travel that I know where I’m going, but I was asked recently ‘where is Elmers End?’ so if you follow this link it will take you there on Google Maps. It’s a suburban area just south of Beckenham, east of Crystal Palace and north east of Croydon. It’s also one of the ends of the London Tramway that serves an area in the west at Wimbledon and Beckenham in the east.

I hope this helps?

However, when I told my wife where I was going, her first reaction was to ask if it was anything to do with Elmer the patchwork elephant…I leave you to make up your own minds.

Elmers End – a neighbourhood

I have to say this was a very disappointing day out as Elmers End had very little to offer as did its neighbouring surrounds as I stroll aimlessly to Birbeck, Clock House, New Beckenham and a return to Beckenham which seems to be the focal point for the surrounds.

This is very much a commuting area relying on transport links to Croydon and Wimbledon by Tram and Central London and south to Hayes by mainline. The station is adjacent to a large Tesco superstore, and it’s about a five minute walk to ‘the green’ surrounded on one side by local shops, and on the green is a local description of how Elmers End may have acquired its name.

I spot a ghostly shop sign above a closed down cafe: Greenwood’s Corner and on close analysis the sign claims to have been a ‘Noted House of Leather…..Repairers’. If you can decipher the remainder, do please let me know.

Religion in the community

My mood for the day is also affected by the dull, overcast and showery conditions, so understandably there is no one out and about and I find  myself taking solace from the religious building I walk past. As I pass the main cemetery and crematorium, I find a discarded packet of cigarettes warning of the risks of lung cancer quite an interesting juxtaposition. The cemetery is also the resting place for the final remains amongst many others, of W.G. Grace and Thomas Crapper.

Other buildings I passed included: the parish church of St James Beckenham, St John Coptic Orthodox Church; St Michael and All Angels in Birbeck and St Paul’s Church in New Beckenham.

Birbeck and Clock House

More streets with few shops and rows upon rows of houses with only the transmitter from Crystal Palace in the background for company. However some artwork in Birbeck catches my attention and what I can only describe as a de-antlered naked reindeer which I assume has been left in an empty shop in preparation for the festive season. Either that, or an unwanted artefact left when the shop closed.

Clock House’s main attraction is the redeveloped area outside the library where the Beckenham Baths once stood but now replaced by a fashionable spa. The Baths were where Duncan Goodhew and Margaret Wellington, both Olympic swimmers, trained. There is also an impressive Victorian building, Venue 28 now a community centre, where Lord Byron’s wife and mother to Ava Lovelace once lived.

Christmas is coming

…and finally, as I walk around the oak tree lined avenues of very fashionable New Beckenham, I look up and see how the mistletoe has manifested itself. A reminder of the seasonal changes and that Christmas is coming…

Best Picture

This made me smile…that of a laundry service with a catchy web address emblazoned across a delivery van ihateironing.com – the name says it all really and a brief chat with the van driver reveals he gets quite a few smiles from drivers when he’s stuck in queues.

See all Elmers End pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

See the sidebar for a sample of Elmers End pics on Instagram
For more info, lookup Elmers End and its station on Wikipedia