#41: Wimbledon (District) – 12/02/2019

Today has been a 17 km figure of eight tour of the surrounds: starting at the station; up to the Village; onwards to the All England Club; onto the common; down to Raynes Park; back into Wimbledon; onto Wimbledon Chase and ending back at Raynes Park. Phew, my legs ache…

The Town and Station

I’m Returning to Wimbledon as this station serves as the terminus for both the Tramway and the District line, and today’s visit compliments my earlier visit seven months ago. Outside the station is a 10’ high steel installation of a stag, commissioned and erected by the local authority to mark the town centre’s regeneration which was completed in 2012.

Regeneration remains a constant as buildings continue to be reformatted and recreated over time and developers nowadays have high standards to maintain in order to protect the passing public ensuring their work is fully covered – a great opportunity to promote themselves. Equally, some are creative in how they display their hoardings, and this one in particular catches my eye. Can you work out which store is coming?

The Village

Almost a kilometer up the hill is Wimbledon Village. A very fashionable centre with a thriving local community with a wide range of independent shops and high end retailers. I’m drawn to some of the buildings either for their displays, or names – for example: Giggling Squid, Le Pain Quatidien, Gardenia, RKade Antiques and the Rose and Crown. I hope you agree they’re worthy of inclusion?

But the shop that really catches my eye is Castrads. I admire the window display and walk on but within a couple of strides I remind myself that I’m resolved not to have regrets so I turn back and walk into the shop introducing myself to Sam Mayel-Afshar, one of the owners. I explain my journey and ask his permission to take some pictures; he’s more than obliging. The shop, as its name suggests, sells cast iron radiators, and the window features rows and rows of miniature radiators in a very impressive display. I hope you agree?

Tennis

Passing through the village, I hadn’t planned on heading to the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Centre, but as it’s only a short stroll away, and it is a fine breezy day, I think ‘why not?’ Look closely, you’ll see embedded in the pavement small round discs marked The Wimbledon Way’ so watch out for them as they’ll guide you around the area; I stop to admire one close by to ‘Dairy Walk’.

I’ve been to the tennis centre a couple of times over the years and was happy to have been marshalled into the venue along with thousands of others at the same time. Today, I seemed to be one of a few walking around and as I stop to take some pictures, I’m approached by Sam, a friendly security guard, at one of the many entry points, who’s interested in what I’m doing. I explain and we chat and I take heed of his friendly invitation to move on.

A little further on, I’m at the museum and restaurant gate and I meet Sam again, and I’m allowed in after a bag search and admire the work taking place to install the new roof on Court No. 2 which will be ready for this year’s tournament. I also say hello to Fred Perry.

The Common

Continuing past the centre turning into Bathgate Road, I can only begin to imagine the price tag on the fenced and gated detached properties that line the road. I understand why top ranking tennis players want to rent out these places during the annual tournament. I digress, onwards towards the common, but first I stumble across The Buddhapadipa Temple and admire this Buddhist Thai temple and as I do, I get talking with another visitor, a Danish lady who’s sitting on the steps. We chat a while before moving on.

The common is a short walk away and I skirt its boundaries until I reach Rushmere Pond and take in the distant view before heading south to Raynes Park.

Raynes Park

This is a long walk, and somewhat uninteresting as I pass, at a distance King’s College School and Wimbledon College along the Ridgeway. Into Pepys Road, I find I’m following a train of primary school children being led by their teachers all the way down to Raynes Park.

The area is a fairly typical of London suburbia served by a small parade of shops on either side of the railway station which acts as a focal point.

There’s a tunnelled footpath under the station which is creatively decorated with lowlights and I return later at dusk to capture the effect at its best.

Wimbledon Chase Railway Station

Returning to Wimbledon main line I set off again on foot to Wimbledon Chase passing the Nelson Health Centre en route, which was built originally as the Nelson Hospital in memory to Lord Nelson who once lived in the area. A little further ahead is Wimbledon Chase station, a quiet station which sits within the Thameslink loop service from Blackfriars via Sutton before returning through this station. Train services are few and far between, and the immediate surrounds paints a somewhat bleak picture, nevertheless, inspired by a joint venture with the railway company, local college students have had their artwork transformed into colourful murals.

Picture of the Day

As soon as I saw this display at Castrads, I knew it would be a contender for today’s picture of the day, and it was my aim to do justice to that. I wanted to capture a silhouetted effect of the mini-radiators as there is an interesting symmetry in how they have, purposely, been arranged. Not being able to control the backdrop, street parking is very much its feature, I positioned the shot to embrace the blue van to which your eye is drawn and balance it with the decorative lighting peeking through the display. I think it works..?

#40: Stratford (Jubilee) – 05/02/2019

Returning for this, my third visit to the area. Firstly alighting at Stratford International (DLR) and more recently at Stratford (DLR) when I decided to carve the surrounding area into quadrants, so today I was set to explore the southern area of Stratford. But first I wander around the Jubilee line platforms and the surrounding station environment.

Stratford station and its surrounds

The Jubilee line is one of a few on the Tfl network which doesn’t have any spur lines. In this case, the Jubilee runs from Stratford north west to Stanmore and is the newest line prior to the emerging Elizabeth line. The station entrance has also undergone some regeneration as it prepared for the anticipated increased footfall because of the 2012 Olympics, which the station prided itself on successfully meeting without a hiccup.

There’s a large concourse outside the station which acts as a gateway between Westfield shopping centre and the Stratford shopping centre, and today it is is the turn of Centrepoint chuggers trying to attract donors for their charity. There is, I think, one genuinely homeless person propped asleep against the station sign, but having seen the chuggers I wasn’t too sure if they were trying to create a dramatic effect – I’m too cynical I know…

The bus terminal sits nearby and its canopy combined with the Shoal, a shimmering wall of titanium fish, offers an interesting backdrop to the surrounding buildings, old and new which sit together in unplanned harmony.

Greenway footpath

I flirted with this footpath last time I visited Stratford and I had planned to come back and walk further along it, and today’s the day for that. I’m not sure how far I’ll get so I decide to just wander and see where it leads me.

From the High Street, where the footpath crosses the road from Wick Lane, it runs for six kilometres easterly to Beckton. It is in fact a pathway created above the Northern Outfall sewer which forms part of the Tideway project which will connect all of London’s sewers and prevent spills into the Thames. Because of its height, at roughly eaves level of neighbouring properties, you get a great overview of the surrounding and distant area as far as Canary Wharf.

Sadly, as with any unattended open space, graffiti artists take the opportunity to promote their skills, and the path is no different, although their endeavours are somewhat encouraged by the local authority which seems to have cordoned off an area across a bridge ripe for their intrusion.

Abbey Mills Pumping Station

Half a kilometre along the path, the Abbey MIlls pumping station stands proudly, almost cathedral like in its own grounds. The building, has been described by one commentator as ‘…An assured Victorian mishmash of Byzantium, Moorish, Slavic and Northern Italian influences. A feat of engineering, ingenuity and boundless confidence resulting in this ‘plant’, camouflaged and transformed into a peculiar industrial palace…’

Built by Joseph Bazalgette, this is a name I became familiar with during the formative days of the Government Digital Service (GDS) as we were once entertained by the presence of the former head of Channel 5, Sir Peter Bazalgette who visited and shared his wisdom and admired what we were doing. He is Joseph Bazelgette’s great-great-grandson.

West Ham Station

A little further along, I spy West Ham underground station, and to be honest I hadn’t appreciated how close it is to Stratford, so I decide to detour slightly and explore more closely. West Ham station is a transport hub for several interconnecting lines: Jubilee, District and C2C services running from Fenchurch Street station to Grays, Southend and Shoeburyness.

It is a station I’ve passed through many a time, giving but a cursory glance to my surroundings. My ‘picture of the day’ (see below) captures a particular commuting moment, and signs at the station entrance help to highlight other commuting statistics. I spend a little time outside the station pursuing other travelling themed shots too.

Boleyn Ground

Back onto the footpath, I carry on walking as far as the sign for Plaistow underground. Heading through rows and rows of uninteresting houses to the station as I have a notion to head over to Upton Park and have a look at the development underway at West Ham United’s former home ground.

In my opinion, housing developments around London have become fairly standardised these days, both in style, brick work and colouring, and this one by Barratt, now renamed Upton Gardens, is no exception. I fear the marketing hype will overstate the development as it becomes yet another over priced mid rise housing development with shared amenities in an otherwise socially depressed area of London.

Picture of the Day

This was an easy one to identify as once I’d seen the outcome of the shot I knew it worked. The location, seasoned district line commuters will recognise, is the walkway between the Jubilee and District lines at West Ham. I was trying different settings to catch the light and as commuters passed in waves, some looked my way. Those shots didn’t work, but persevering, this guy in muted commuter mode ignoring everything around him, provides a great silhouette. The hazy background works well too as the pixelation created by the 60’s style wall tiles lets you see the immediate and distant London scene.

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#39: Hammersmith (Revisited) – 29/01/2019

Seven months after my first visit, I return to Hammersmith via one of it’s two stations: the most northern station serving as a terminus for both the aptly named Hammersmith & City (pink) line, and the Circle (yellow) line. The second station, opening into the Broadway shopping centre, serving as a pass through station for both the Piccadilly and District Lines. Conditions today are quite different; a cold icy blast with the threat of snow, but as the day starts, it’s quite bright and clear.

I start the day heading south under the flyover to almost where I ended my last journey as I make my way through Fulham Reach to the Blue Boat pub on the Thames Path overlooking the river.

Not because I am desperate for a drink, n’or because I wanted to flavour a traditional Fuller’s pub as Asahi, a Japanese brewery takes over the chain. But because it is a convenient place to meet a former work colleague to catch up on gossip and life. Noelia and I worked for the Government Digital Service (GDS) together for several years, and just as I was retiring, Noelia left to join Tfl. It’s been many a year since I walked into an empty pub as their first morning customer, but an 11.00 am start for coffee was a good way to spend the morning in good company and pleasant surroundings.

As a local resident, Noelia explains this is a very popular pub, one that’s hard to get a table booking, and i can understand why. It’s position right by the river is ideal, with pleasant surroundings and decor providing a welcoming balance between chique, characterful and trendy. It was good to catch up and share with each other what we have been up to and to hear how those we are still in touch with have moved on to other challenges.

The Thames Path

As we say farewell, I head south along the north shore following the Thames Path which eventually leads me past Craven Cottage and on to Fulham Palace. But first a few words of the pathway as it deserves a particular mention. Despite it being bitterly cold, the icy sky with a hazy sun provides an ideal opportunity to capture the scenery. I think no matter where I am, the combination of sun and water will always encourage me to take pictures as it may be something to do with the fact I was born and brought up by the sea.

This part of the Thames Path is directly under the flight-path as aircraft make their way to land at Heathrow, and as I look skywards timing their frequency hoping to capture a unique shot, I note the planes fly over at monotonous regularity every two minutes.

The path is quite busy with dog walkers and runners/joggers, and as I approach Bishop’s Park, there is surprisingly one or two sitting in the cold enjoying the scenery. The lake and surrounding gardens are closed, probably for winter maintenance, however there is some evidence of spring emerging in the surrounding shrubbery.

Craven Cottage – Fulham Football Club

The Thames Path takes a detour at this point as Craven Cottage, the home of Fulham Football Club sits right on the edge of the river. The stands are imposing and tower over the path, and as I make my way to the main entrance in Stevenage Road there’s a river of coloured cables in the gutter as media companies prepare to broadcast this evening’s match against Brighton & Hove Albion (for those interested, Fulham won 4-2).

Spectator access to the ground is still controlled through narrow numbered turnstiles, which stand as a protective layer at the front of the stadium. The club’s colours of black and white are clearly visible, and close to the ticket office stands a memorial to one of the club’s best ever players – Johnny Haynes

Fulham Palace

From The Cottage through Bishops Park along its tree lined avenues, I come to Fulham Palace and tentatively poke my nose into the Walled Garden; and I’m glad I did as I find some unexpected delights. The History of Fulham Palace records ‘…From around 700, when the site was acquired by Bishop Waldhere, it served as a Bishop’s residence for over 12 centuries. At least since Tudor times, Fulham Palace was the Bishop of London’s country home, providing the Bishop and his family with a healthy rural retreat in summer months…’

The Palace’s features comprise primarily of the Palace buildings, surrounding grounds, Walled Garden all enclosed in what was once known to be the longest domestic moat in England – an earthwork enclosing an area of 14.5 hectares (35.8 acres) with the original water extending for about one mile in length. It’s fair to say the garden is in its winter state, and although there is little colour about except for the explosion of snowdrops, it’s clear the grounds are well maintained and cared for. Through the other end of the Walled Garden I step into the grounds surrounding the Palace and I see children playing happily in a make-do campsite on one side, and find some interesting tree carvings on the other.

Into the Palace itself which is undergoing restoration work, so access to some areas is restricted. However I meet two helpful ladies at reception who point me in the direction of the Terrick Rooms and The Chapel where I’m joined by one of them who acts as my tour guide and shares the chapel’s interesting history. Before leaving, I’m introduced to Nicola, the Palace’s Marketing Manager, who explains the Palace will reopen access to all areas over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend with an official opening on the 25th May and a public opening on the 26th. Nicola also highlights their photography competition which is open to all amateur photographers until the 21st April.

If you have a spark of an interest in seeing one of London’s hidden and unsung gems, I’d highly recommend a visit here: and I for one will be returning. Thank you Fulham Palace for your hospitality.

Returning to Hammersmith

The sun has gone and the clouds look increasingly threatening so it’s time to head to my journey’s end back at Hammersmith station. I walk the length of Woodlawn Road and espy what I guess is described as fashionable Fulham. Row upon row of attractive semi-detached town houses which are well maintained and decorated. Those that aren’t are in the throws of being modernised as I lose count of the number of houses being redeveloped.

Onto the main Fulham Palace Road I walk around Charing Cross Hospital, but I’m more than a little disappointed that this ageing, decaying and tired concrete monstrosity offers nothing of interest. By contrast, and a little further up the road is a relatively new development – Assembly London which is rather striking in its modernist isolation.

Picture of the Day

It’s taken me a while to pick this one as I originally wanted to showcase the light of the day on the river, but I’ve already included those pictures above under the Thames Path heading. I’ve gone for this picture less for its photographic quality, but more for what it represents. This is more about ‘stories within stories’ and is representative of the time I spent within the grounds of Fulham Palace.

This is one stack of books of many on display in the library in the Terrick Dining Room and it made me ask myself the following questions:

Click on the links to answer the questions yourself…

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#38: Woodford – 22/01/2019

Woodford underground station is on the Central Line and sits on the destination northwards from Stratford to Epping. But it’s also the end of the line for the Fairlop Loop that runs from Stratford via Newbury Park and terminates here – and thus my visit today. A wintry cold day with bright clear skies to start with that ended, somewhat surprisingly with a sudden and unexpected snowfall in the early evening.

The area immediately surrounding the station to the north is known as Woodford Green and serves a residential community of largely early 20th century property mix of large detached and semi-detached houses. Growth through the suburbanisation of London has seen the ingress of multi-occupancy social housing nevertheless the area immediately around the station, which dissects the town, is clean, tidy and well cared for. Shops to the west of the station having a more traditional ‘village’ feel and those to the east of the station are of a multicultural mix suggesting they serve a diverse community.

For more information on the general area called ‘Woodford’, follow the link.

Station

Nothing out of the ordinary about the station, which has a potted history in becoming established as part of the commuter route to Epping and onwards to Ongar since its origins in the late 19th Century when the line was first built. The expansion of London during the two wars helped cement its place as a fashionable location, and in becoming the terminal destination for the loop.

I speak with Chris, the station supervisor, to try and determine the origins of the two tone green colour scheme on the station as I had a notion it originated from the earlier years. He had no knowledge of its origins, and neither can I find anything online other than the scheme reflect the ‘lner/br(e) (1940s-1960s) colours’.

We chatted about the introduction of the night service on Friday and Saturday nights, a service that runs every 20 mins, and with some heartfelt reminiscing Chris commented on how reveller’s behaviours have changed. No longer do they need to dash to catch the last train, and end up as very drunk passengers, as they can now pace themselves and return home more gracefully. He also explained the station starts operating services from 5.00 am with services running in all three directions as trains would have been held overnight in the large sidings adjacent to the station as Epping (the other end of the line) doesn’t have the capacity to store trains overnight.

The Broadway

Heading away from the station, I explore The Broadway; a small shopping parade full of independent shops (with only one obvious exception). And these shops are what gives this area it’s character. I stop to admire the somewhat jaded facade of the solicitors CCH & Co and as I turn around to head up the street I see I’m being looked at quizzically by someone from inside a Turkish Barbers.

I go in and introduce myself to Sevkan and Ego, the two barbers who are working there. I explain my purpose and ask to take their pictures and of the shop. They readily agree, and after finishing with a customer, they preen themselves for the photo-shoot. Both gentlemen took the session in good humour especially after telling them I wouldn’t charge them for the pictures. My only ask is that they share my blog details through a bundle of business cards I left with them. They tell me they’ve only been open a few months and the shop was previously a bakery.

Now I’ve often wondered what’s the difference between an English and a Turkish barber, and now I know. The extras on offer include a wet shave, a hot towel, ear flaming and a head massage although I believe these are now becoming more fashionable in the trendier gentlemen’s grooming parlours. Should you be in the neighbourhood, then pop into The Kingsman and tell them how you heard about them… 🙂

The Broadway Deli & Grocery

Across the road is a delightful Deli & Grocery recently opened by Jan, in what was once the Post Office (which has now moved across the road). I’m surprised and delighted by the welcome I get after tentatively asking to take some photos explaining my mission and how I’m drawn in by the interior displays and general ‘look and feel’.

It’s lunchtime and customers are enjoying their Monmouth coffee as they perch at the front of shop bar looking onto The Broadway, and customers eagerly buy their healthier lunches too. So I was doubly surprised with the time Jan spent with me sharing his passion for the food he sells recounting their origins and individual, and some personal, stories of how the food is created by craftsmen and artisans. For example the olive growers of Puglia (Italy) who use traditional methods to grind their olives with herbs instead of infusing them to create flavoured olive oils; or how Becky Griffiths picks her Sloe berries from around Essex to create her award winning Mother’s Ruin gin. I could easily stay listening to Jan for a very long time as he has a story for every product on display, so that will be a treat on a return visit.

I hope I didn’t outstay my welcome, and on reviewing my day’s photo shoot I realise over half the pictures I’ve taken are of the Deli, so as a thank you to Jan and his team, I’ve created a special YouTube video of those pictures as I feel I can’t quite do justice by the few pictures I can post here. Have a look here: YouTube – The Broadway Deli & Grocery

Snakes Lane East

Heading through the station underpass to the east side of Woodford, there’s a different feel as the array of health & beauty shops, supermarkets and restaurants reflects a very multicultural mix; there’s evidence of economic hardship too as seen through the high proportion of closed and derelict shops.

I have to admit I’m always impressed with the way some supermarkets show off their produce, and the Food Park is no exception with their fruit and veg carefully selected and placed providing a splendid technicolour display.

Further down the road I wander around Saint Barnabas Parish Church a couple of times hoping to find an open door to peek inside, but it was not to be, and as the afternoon is drawing to a close, I decide to head south to South Woodford.

Following St Barnabas Road all the way, I pass row upon row of typical London mid-1930’s houses. Nothing exciting to report until I reach the North Circular Road. I was hoping I’d be able to walk over a bridge as I had a few ideas on photos to try out, but at this juncture it’s another underpass.

Coming out the other side, the sky looks ominous and, as it turns out, the clouds are a precursor to an unexpected snow storm. Thankfully I make my way undercover before getting wet.

Best Picture

This one fits the bill for several reasons:

  • It’s a reminder of the time spent at the Deli & Grocery
  • Although the picture is ‘busy’, everything is framed and each window has its own story – if you zoom in on each pane, you can decide for yourself
  • The brief inclusion of the letter box acts as a reminder this was once the post office
  • There is an interesting juxtaposition with Sainsbury’s reflection providing a contrast between independent and chain retailer – I know which I prefer

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#37: Edgware Road (revisited) – 15/01/2019

Reflective Moments

This, my 37th station, in almost 9 months, and it marks the midpoint through my travels; quite a journey so far and look out for changes to the blog as I introduce a new look and some new features.

One such feature is my emerging YouTube channel where I intend to post a short film of all the pictures I have taken on each visit, and is intended to complement my shared photo albums, Facebook page and Instagram space. I haven’t yet decided whether to create a back catalogue, but that would be a cool thing to do. Let me know if you’d like to see these?

Edgware Road revisited

Over eight months after my first visit here, I’ve come back to Edgware Road to complete my sojourn to this station which serves as the end of the line for both the Circle and District lines.

Today is a cold wintry day and I wanted to explore a different side to the area, so this time I trundle through the back streets heading south to Marble Arch on the eastern side of Edgware Road and returning north to Paddington through the western side streets. This map sets out my route.

Residential Marylebone

Stepping out of the station I head south and I’m impressed by the scale and architecture of the surrounding Hyde Park Mansions. They are architecturally characteristic of many a historic part of London with apartments retailing for anything from £2 million apiece with one reported to sell for £300 million! Further afield is the equally impressive Stourcliffe Court, and the more modernist Richbourne Court. The one thing these facades hide is the potential wealth that lurks behind their doors.

On the subject of wealth, I have to include a picture of this white Jaguar Car as its number plate just shouted out ‘look at me!’. After taking a few pictures, the car’s owner came out of his office and introduced himself as Mo and appreciated my admiring his car and number plate. He was too coy to tell me how much he’d paid for it…but it was good to talk with you Mo.

One final observation: I’m attracted to the interesting symbols on the lampposts and wonder if there’s are a hidden secret – and it turns out there is. The two symbols represent: a fanciful ‘W’ symbolising the Duke of Westminster who gave his name to the borough of Westminster; and the second is that of CoCo Chanel – from Lookup.London ‘…The legend goes that the Duke of Westminster during the 1920s was infatuated with Coco Chanel, repeatedly asking her to marry him. This is pretty well documented and it appears the feelings were mutual. Chanel spent many years in London and between 1924 and the early 1930s enjoyed a beneficial and happy affair with Hugh Grosvenor (richest man in the world at the time) according to the biography written by Justine Picardie in 2010…’ How interesting

Marble Arch

There aren’t many visitors about and even Oxford Street, still to de-Christmas itself is relatively quiet of shoppers. Neither did it stop one loving couple stealing a kiss in the shadow of Marble Arch. Even the local birds are less than enthusiastic, but suspect that may be more to do with the lack of people = food being less readily available. Nevertheless the adjoining gardens are making a good impression in providing colour.

Perched on one of the traffic Islands, I find a good spot to look at the constant passing traffic and this shot highlights the variety of transport options readily available to locals and visitors.

Many sculptors have taken advantage of the wide open spaces nearby to show off larger than life works of art. Three in particular caught my eye:

  • ‘Still Water’, a 30 foot outdoor bronze sculpture of a horse’s head by Nic Fiddian-Green
  • ‘Flight’, a magical sculpture of a flying man taking off from Marble Arch; a 7 meter outdoor bronze sculpture with black patina created by David Breuer-Weil, and
  • the ‘Animals in War’ memorial created by David Backhouse; a symbolic 58 foot by 55 foot installation that invites you into it to learn more about its history

Black & White

There’s a black & white theme with some of the pictures I’ve taken. Maybe it’s a simple and prevalent colour combination across fashionable London or maybe it’s a combination of the dull weather that makes the colour combination stand out. Whatever the reason, I’m drawn to some of the buildings by the simple design shapes created by their facade. Here are some examples which include:

Paddington

The majority of the properties on the return walk to Paddington are part of the Hyde Park Estate but I’m drawn to a particular art installation in the guise of a greenhouse. Entitled ‘Sacre Blur’, it’s a greenhouse constructed by Heywood and Condie from salvaged 18th and 19th century stained glass on a plot of land outside 25 Porchester Place.

Turning left into Praed Street and approaching Paddington Station, I reach St Mary’s Hospital and reflect that I’d never before taken any notice of this historic site as it was the professional home to Sir Alexander Fleming where he discovered penicillin; a discovery that changed medicine in the late 19th century. The hospital is a sprawling site originally built in the early Victorian age, and added to with little finesse since then. A poster on a hoarding surrounding an adjacent building site caught my eye as it’s design is rather striking, and as I walk around the old victorian buildings, I’m  amused by the travellers pulling their wheelie suitcases who struggle to navigate the cobbled roads.

I also look up at the towering building overlooking the station, now part of the HIlton chain, and admire its refurbished art deco facade enblazened with Great Western Railway (GWR) livery. Although in full view, it’s almost a lost piece of architecture as the thousand of passing travellers are unlikely to ever notice it.

Portobello Road

I’ve flirted with visiting Portobello Market for some time and as it’s only a few stops away on the Hammersmith and City Line at Ladbroke Grove, I jump on the first train taking me there. It is late on a weekday afternoon and traders are shutting up shop, but there’s enough flavour to entice a return one day. I hadn’t appreciated that the road runs all the way from Notting Hill, so I suspect on a nice day with the sun out, this could be a very long, slow and expensive one mile walk from end to end. For now, here are some samples of what I see which serves as a reminder that despite its popularity as a fashionable market street, it is also a residential area.

Best Picture

This is easy to explain – it just made me smile…

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For more info, lookup Edgware Road on Wikipedia

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#36: New Addington – 10/01/2019

The last of my TramLink destination journeys, this time to New Addington, South East of Croydon. The tram station, like most others is an open air affair with no distinguishing features or anything to report as unique. This is in part largely due to the TramLink’s construction in the later part of the 20th Century and designed and built in such a way to improve accessibility and keep costs down.

Today is a cold and overcast day, and the depressing weather conditions does nothing to enhance what seems to be a depressing area. I know first impressions are hard to dispel, but after wandering around for some time, my impression changes little.

For those who know my home town, you will be able to picture this area if I liken it to Penparcau but on a much larger scale. Both are areas of social housing specifically built in the mid-1900’s to cater for a growing population and the Wikipedia entry for New Addington is worth a read as it eloquently describes the area, it’s history and its social challenges. My comparison with Penparcau I believe is now no longer valid though as the two communities seem to have matured in different ways; maybe their relative sizes had something to do with that, but I leave that to other social commentators to debate.

Getting off at the tram stop at the northern end of Central Parade looking south I see the main low level shopping parade to my left with evidence of regeneration to my right. The dividing avenue is tree lined which in Spring I’m sure would look attractive with the trees in foliage. Immediately to my right is a collection of four wood sculptures of a bear, gorilla, dolphin and an eagle. There’s nothing around to explain their origins and other online commentators are also unable to find any helpful references.

Planned Regeneration

At the end of Central Parade is the library within which there’s a display of the planned regeneration of the area, and outside there’s a rather tired looking mosaic created by the local high school some time ago. The mosaic has been designed to reflect local scenes and characters, but like the surrounding area, it is somewhat scarred with damage that has remained un-repaired for some time.

Towards the centre of the parade there’s a memorial stone to those who died and were affected by the nearby Tram crash in November 2016. My observation here, as with other memorials I see around and about is ‘what’s the right length of time to leave flowers besides a memorial?’ This picture sadly depicts what ‘too long’ looks like.

Some regeneration work is well underway with the erection of a new leisure centre and in conjunction with the construction company, Wilmott Dixon, Croydon Council have partnered to set up a training academy for any local residents wishing to work in the construction industry; although  there is no evidence of anyone working in the academy at the time of my visit.

Heroes Walk – ‘a celebration of New Addington’

This is a local description of a walkway created between the current leisure centre and the new building encased with hoarding as either side is a building site. The full length of the hoarding is adorned on both sides of the walkway with black and white photographs of local residents who have been selected as having gone ‘the extra mile’ and provides a brief glimpse into the community spirit created by this art installation. The linked newsletter explains who they are and what they have achieved – well done to them!

Two miles, as the crow flies south from the library is Biggin Hill Airport, and I can hear the occasional plane taking off/landing. I’m tempted to head over, but the local bus service timetable makes that a slow journey. Equally, although within walking distance (about 3 miles by road), the daylight isn’t at its best and with the short wintry days I reckon it will be dark before I need to return home.

Addington Village

I decide, instead, to head north as I noticed on my tram journey to New Addington a stop named Addington Village. A mile and a half later, after passing housing estate after housing estate, and off the main road, I come to a very picturesque, albeit a very small village.

The village is dominated by the 11th Century flint encrusted Anglican church: St Mary the Blessed Virgin. Walking carefully over the gravestones outside the church, my thoughts turn to those I have known who are no longer with us. I’m particularly affected by a gravestone for a very young child which seems to have been placed discreetly in a corner and slightly obscured. Out of respect, I decide not to take any photographs other than of the once Archbishop of Canterbury, John Bird Sumner’s rather ornate memorial.

The church is open so I head inside and I’m in awe of the high vaulted ceiling, stained glass windows and altar, and I read about a War Hospital in the nearby Addington Park during World War 1 as part of the church’s history display.

Adjacent to the church is an appropriately named ‘Flint Cottage’ and just down the road is the ‘The Old Forge’ which is claimed to be the ‘last surviving working forge in the area’

Best Picture

This one of the altar inside St Mary the Blessed Virgin church I find quite striking. The intensity created by a flash free shot (as different to the one above) adds a contrasting dimension to really showcase the colour and detail of the three 11th century stained glass windows. Tell me what you think…

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

See the sidebar for a sample of New Addington pics on Instagram

For more info, lookup New Addington on Wikipedia

#35: High Street Kensington – 03/01/2019

OK. So I’m not sure if this should be included but I’m here now so I’ll get on with it. The reason for including is that the station serves as the end of the District Line shuttle service to Olympia (Kensington). The doubt I have is I haven’t included any other similar destinations on other lines where the scheduled service ends before the geographic end, for example West Croydon on the TramLink? A debating point maybe once I’ve completed this particular series. For now though I give you High Street Kensington…

The Station

Fairly typical of the period when stations were built out of traditional London brick with facades now influenced and somewhat defined by their modern towering neighbours, High Street Ken as it’s popularly known is no different.

As I explore the station platforms, I come across one of Mark Wallinger’s ‘Labyrinth’ artworks. You’ve all seen them in passing as you scurry through your stations, and you may have thought as I did, ‘how curious’ without a second thought. Today I stop to admire and ponder at its purpose and realise this is a unique piece of work given away by the numbering. This is number 237 out of 270…270 being the magical number of underground stations.

Follow this link to learn more about the artists and this art installation across the underground and then muse with understanding when you see the next one and realise its own uniqueness.

The main entrance, which opens onto the high street, is awash with travellers, mostly looking to see the sights and I spotted this group of girls hogging the central walkway taking a selfie.

High Street

Fashionable high street names and couture independent shops adorn The HIgh Street which is dominated by the once towering Barker’s department store. What remains is a classical Art Deco style building that you can’t but be impressed by. The real beauty of the area though is only a short stroll away across the road as I begin to explore the back streets and mews in the immediate vicinity.

First I stroll through the cloisters of St Mary Abbot Parish Church which is still bedecked in Christmas lights. I stop to read several of the memorial plaques that adorn its walls and porch, and wonder what a lonely worshipper is thinking as he makes his way through the cloisters.

And then into Kensington Church Walk and admire the bijou shops all with their independent stamp and marketplace. I’m particularly drawn to Hermione Harbutt, a bespoke wedding accessory designer, and just up the road, a gentleman’s clothier – Hornets.

Heading back towards the High Street, and westerly following the main road towards Holland Park I reach its entrance which is protected from traffic by some very ornate gates. The history of the park can be read if you follow the link, and I reflect on a visit I made to the park several years earlier when I decided to walk from Earl’s Court to Notting Hill via the park. My recollection of that steamy hot day was of a very steep incline as I trudged my way past the fields and the adjoining school.  

the Design Museum

the Design Museum is at the mouth of Holland Park and I feel my visit today is worthy of particular mention as my interest in design has been piqued since my recent (and last) employment with the Government Digital Service (GDS). One of its cornerstones of enabling transformation is that of understanding the User Needs and creatively designing services that are functional and so so easy to use that people choose to use them. My exposure to creative designers during this time, in particular Ben Terrett, has enriched my experiences and enabled me to look at shapes and patterns with different meaning.

What is ‘good’ design? In the 20th century the Modernists believed that good design was about usefullness.

Museums are a living exhibition encouraging, provoking and challenging you to think about what you see, and if you are repeat visitors, you know you do so in expectation of seeing something new and/or different each time. The Design Museum is no different and I am impressed by its hands-on approach to many of its exhibitions. Two items in particular catch my eye. The tower of numbers which is a 3D printer creation, and a construction hoarding for an Apple store in Taipei created using traditional Chinese paper-cutting techniques.

English Heritage Blue Plaques

Walking around the area I begin to think that those living here must feel rather inferior if they don’t have a blue plaque on their property as it seems almost every other property has one. Maybe a slight exaggeration, but there is a higher proportion of plaques on properties here than other places I’ve visited. There are many links to sites with maps of all the blue plaques of London, but most are out of date as the number of plaques continues to grow. I’d suggest a visit to the English Heritage website for the latest update or download their app.

There was one plaque that caught my eye: that of Ka Mpande Cetshwayo, King of the Zulus, which seemed out of place, but clearly has its place under the ‘overseas visitor’ category. I found this plaque in Melbury Road in a neighbourhood adjacent to Leighton House, the former home, and now museum, of the Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896).

Addendum – Jimmy Page vs Robbie Williams.

I took a picture of The Tower House in Mebury Road but decided to exclude it. I hadn’t realised the significance of the building: it turns out it’s now owned by Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin guitarist. Not only that, he’s also having a spat with Robbie Williams (of Take That fame) about Robbie’s plans to build a swimming pool in an adjacent property. See this BBC news report for details. I was particularly drawn to the shape of the house and the corner gargoyle.

Best Picture

For reasons I’ve outlined above under ‘the Design Museum’, I’m including this photo as my best picture as a personal reminder of my time in GDS. But I also like the picture for what it portrays and the bright colour scheme I’ve captured. The picture tells several stories:

  • that of my personal recollection;
  • on the first level it depicts a portfolio of buildings influenced by different design principles;
  • on the second level a changing mural (the picture snapped it at ‘USER’) leading into a hands-on exhibition; and
  • the top tier showcasing the exposed vaulted roof space now somewhat hidden by an unexplained canopy. I spoke with one of the guide volunteers who was also a little perturbed by the installation of the canopy as he could not see how it aesthetically enhanced the visitor experience…

I hope you enjoy?

See all High Street Kensington pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment

See the sidebar for a sample of High Street Kensington pics on Instagram

For more info, lookup High Street Kensington Station on Wikipedia