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#51: Bank (again) – 09/05/2019

A return today to Bank station courtesy of the Dockland Light Railway (DLR). A day where the weather forecast was looking pretty grim and dismal, the first in over a year. So I did some advance planning on where to go if the weather turned bad…which it did. Today turned out to be a tour of central London stations including Bank, Monument, Cannon Street and London Bridge.

Today was also a study in underground passageways, and my thanks go to other Underground Twitter enthusiasts who have posted pictures which have inspired some of mine today.

Bank Station

Those of you working in the City, or have a need to change at Bank know how busy it is, and somewhat complicated now whilst improvement works are being undertaken. The station, which is inter-connected with Monument provides underground access to the Central, Northern, Circle and District lines; the DLR and the Waterloo & City line. It’s main feature is the 300m long adjoining walkway running directly under King William Street.

From personal experience, I was caught off guard one summer’s day when lugging a heavy suitcase from one station to the next without realising how many flights of stairs there are, and how long it takes when battling with commuters charged with only one goal in mind – getting to their end point as quickly as possible.

My study of the underground has yielded many pictures in an attempt to capture the constant flow of travellers making their way through the tunnel between the two stations, or on route to/from Waterloo via the underground tunnels and travelator. Some travellers have a clear plan on where they are going and others are bemused by the the whole experience. Nevertheless, I’ve compiled some of the pictures into animations to help set the scene.

I decide to head for Monument Station which is a popular destination for tourists who flock to the aptly named Monument, opened in 1677 as a permanent reminder of the Great Fire of London.

Outside the station, street promoters try to catch the eye of the passer-by by handing out leaflets with a promise of free cash ‘…if you sign up today!..’

As I walk around to the Monument, I notice that I’m now in The Ward of Candlewick and ask myself, what is a Ward? The answer is here…

Saint Magnus the Martyr and The Thames Path

London is littered with churches of all denominations, and from my own observation, the City has more than its fair share. Heading down towards the embankment and the Thames Path, I pass this church and explore its surroundings, and as I do, I spot a plaque declaring the churchyard formed part of the roadway onto the original London Bridge. Intrigued, not out of religious conviction, but more out of historical interest, I head inside and I’m struck by the ornate decorations; full of colour and all the religious icons you would expect to see.

By the doorway there is a long, if not at least ten feet long, encased model replica of the original London Bridge bedecked with houses and shops. The vaulted ceiling is magnificent, as indeed are the stained glass windows in homage to the good saint, and before leaving I feel compelled to light a candle.

The church sits on the river so a quick canter around the back of the church and I’m overlooking the river with The Shard for company ahead of me, and London Bridge to my right. There’s what appears to be a collection of stones as a seating area, but on closer inspection there’s an inscription explaining the stone bench was part of an Architectural Student Award in 2009. Each stone engraved with a floral design and its name.

I pass under London Bridge, which has a mysterious eerie feel to it, and could it be that ghosts of eons past are still lurking as you just don’t know what would have transpired here over the years and centuries. Or maybe as it was about to pour with rain the ominous sky affected my senses. Who knows?

I didn’t give any thought to the name of the footpath until I came to Cannon Street station rail bridge – Hanseatic Walk. But before walking under the bridge, I spot a wall plaque, a little difficult to get at to read. But when I do, I see it was erected in 2005 to commemorate a site where 400 Hanseatic merchants lived in a German self-governing enclave for nearly 600 years up to the 19th Century.

Cannon Street station is my third station of the day, each of which are no more than 300 metres apart such is the density of the working population that it needs so many stations to cope with the daily influx. This station has recently been modernised and therein stands the Plumber’s Apprentice, erected at the location where once stood the Livery Hall of The Worshipful Company of Plumbers

London Bridge station and its surrounds

One stop by train across the river and I’m at London’s most recently modernised station where the architects have blended the modern functional needs with the classic cavernous catacomb like arches. Now that’s it’s finished, the station provides an exciting feast for the eye as I journey through the station. Glass and lighting are the two main features used to excellent effect to bring out a modern design.

I’m asked by a security lady to explain what I’m doing and although she doesn’t stop me, she does suggest a visit to Network Rail’s reception would be in order to check on whether I need permission to take pictures. Thankfully, through their twitter feed, I’m directed to their very helpful and clearly set out online Guidelines for taking photos at stations.

I exit the station south side and I’m immediately drawn to a sight of red ants crawling over a full size train carriage atop a low level building. Go see it as it’s an impressive piece of art from Joe Rush – never heard of him? Well he also created the Arcadia spider at a recent Glastonbury festival.

The artwork helps to promote one of London’s newest open air food and container box outlets at Vinegar Yard. It is almost deserted, with only a couple of seated guests and a few others, like me, wandering around taking photos; the reason being that it is cold and raining, so not the ideal combo for this place. Nevertheless, I suspect as the evening wears on, more brave souls will be attracted to eat and drink here later.

This was a surprising and delightful find at the end of the day, and is partly what this sojourn is all about – a personal discovery of communities that otherwise might not get seen by outsiders.

Picture of the Day

This was one of my first photos of the day and after a few test shots to get the settings right, I waited for a sequence of trains to pull into the end of the DLR at Bank station. With a slow shutter speed to capture the train’s movement, I was pleased, and surprised, to get the focus just right as this is a hand held shot. 

The position of the train as it is just about to pass the station sign was planned, and as the sign states the platform is for ‘alighting only’ so there were no other passengers waiting other than me. I was half expecting to get stopped by passing Tfl staff as I was loitering there for quite a while, but guess they’re used to enthusiasts hanging around. 

The wide angle shot lets me get the full length of the station in frame, and the fast ISO setting lets me get the depth of field I wanted. Maybe the lighting could have been slightly darker with a slower film speed setting, but sometimes a compromise is OK.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ/22; Shutter Speed – 1/5; Focal Length – 318mm; Film Speed – ISO12800; Google Photo Filter – Auto

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TfL Underground Waterloo & City

#11: Bank – 07/06/2018

Today’s visit completes the Waterloo and City line with the day spent at Bank, originally called City when the line was first opened. For those of you who know the area, you’ll know it for it’s traffic; imposing buildings and architecture and of course the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street herself – the Bank of England

All the buildings are confined within the ‘square mile’ and today’s visit rarely stepped outside of its boundaries as the area which is steeped in history, lends itself to awe and wonder. The City (or square mile) is demarcated at its boundaries by dragons as its symbol, and public furniture adorned with The City’s coat of arms.

Whilst standing on the steps of the Royal Exchange with the building behind me, I take in the mini piazza ahead of me where workers and tourists either take time for a moment’s contemplation, or rush from one of the many underground exits from one side of Bank to another. To my left is a memorial to James Henry Greathead, an engineer who invented a way of building the tube network, and beyond is Mansion House with the Bank of England dominating my right view.

Into the Royal Exchange, for my first ever glimpse of what is a cavernous building converted on the ground floor into a fashionable coffee shop cum restaurant, with the alcoved balconies dedicated to up market restaurants and high end jewellery shops. Having sought, and received permission to take pictures inside, I’m later approached to ensure I do not take any pictures of the shops.

Next a walk around the Bank of England, a route I’ve taken many a time over the years, but this time I stumble across the Bank of England Museum entrance. An entrance I must have passed before, but without realising, so I find myself drawn inside. Understanding it’s a free museum, I decide to have a look around. The museum, as you’d expect, recounts the history of the building, the history of money, displays of currency through the years and an explanation on how today’s economy is managed. An interesting insight and great for school trips, as was my luck to get caught in the melee of one. But there is a nice interactive exhibition – a real gold ingot in a perspex case with a hand hole inviting you to pick up the ingot. No worries of running off with it though as the ingot is contained within a claw like container – but a good way to realise the weight of real gold

Back out of the building and a wander around the back streets which interconnect with the main roads via alleys and cutaways which you can envisage being the centre of hustle and bustle in the 18th and 19th Centuries. I pass the City of London Magistrates Court and head over to The Parish Church of St Stephen Walbrook, a 17th century church, next to Mansion House and now dwarfed by modern financial buildings: The Walbrook Building, and a monstrously ugly and totally characterless Bloomberg building.

The church prides itself with having a high domed roof built by Sir Christopher Wren as a trial before he built the one on St Paul’s Cathedral, and a large round altar as a centrepiece to the church. I spent some time talking with Victor, one of the Church helpers, who explained that one of the church’s previous rectors (Dr Chad Varah) founded the Samaritans and the original phone used to accept calls on the number ‘Mansion House 9000’ is on display.

Back out and I stroll around the Bloomberg building looking for the entrance to the London Mithraeum which is situated under the building, but to no avail, and even the security guards on the building’s main entrance couldn’t offer any directions. Hmmm, not impressed so I head back to the mini piazza and head up Lombard Street through George Yard and Bell Inn Yard crossing Gracehcurch into Leadenhall Market; originally a meat and poultry market but now a fashionable market for wining, dining and shopping. It’s late lunchtime and the market is busy with nearby office workers and tourists enjoying a bite to eat. Ah! I remember those days…

For more info, look up Bank on Wikipedia

Picture of the Day

This is an historical shot for those old enough to remember the pre-decimal paper money. The red-brown ten bob note; the green pound; the rarely seen five pound note and the never seen brown ten pound note. The picture is taken inside the Bank of England’s museum which is  accessed through their airport style entrance in Threadneedle Street.

I think this is an appropriate picture to remember my visit to Bank station

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5; Shutter Speed – 1/160; Focal Length – 43mm; Film Speed – ISO2500; Google Photo Filter – Metro

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TfL Underground Waterloo & City

#06: Waterloo – 10/05/2018

Unsurprisingly, Waterloo is at the southern end of the ‘Waterloo & City’ line or more commonly known as ‘The Drain’. The line was opened late in the 19th century to ferry commuters travelling from the Southern counties directly into The City. Waterloo also serves three other lines: the Bakerloo, Jubilee and the Northen line (Charing Cross branch), and collectively Waterloo is reportedly the busiest in the UK and when combined with the nearby Waterloo East station, which is just a short stroll away and linked directly with Waterloo, it is the busiest complex in Europe.

Having worked in the vicinity for several years when at DirectGov in Lambeth, I have some familiarity with the surrounds and knew it to be a vibrant and colourful area, so I set off through the station exiting into Lower Marsh in a clockwise direction around the station. You can’t ignore the colour or the vibrancy of afternoon diners who buy from the myriad of street traders. Some notable landmarks are Cubana and Vaulty Towers.

Lower Marsh runs in a westerly direction towards Lambeth, but a detour through Leake Street reveals a hidden gem inspired by Bansky and now an authorised graffiti area where each day you’ll find new works of art often being created by the artists as you walk through, but be warned, the fumes can get quite intoxicating. This ‘street’ runs under the platforms of Waterloo station and also houses The Vaults, London’s home for immersive theatre and alternative arts.

Turning right into York Road, you are a stone’s throw away from the South Bank and all it’s entertainment in full view of the Thames and the London Eye. Continuing clockwise into Waterloo Road and pass the BFI IMAX and I’m led into the side streets past the Union Jack Club, which was founded by Ethel McCaul a Red Cross nurse over a 100 years ago ‘…to provide non-commissioned services and former members of the Armed Forces and their families a comfortable and friendly base for their visits to London…’. Onto Waterloo East station, which  offers a vista of London’t continuing development looking west and north where an attractively clad student accommodation building, in Paris Gardens  looks as if it has a tower: it is in fact the top of 1 Blackfriars development, one of many multi-purpose high rise complexes shaping London’s skyline of the 21st Century.

I walk into the main Waterloo station from Waterloo East platform to explore the underground, and whilst taking a series of photos to best showcase the Jubilee line walkways, I’m invited by a couple of Manchester United fans (I think on their way to the mid-week West Ham game) to take their pictures. As a hardened Liverpool supporter, we had some good-natured banter, but I’m fulfilling a promise to give them a ‘shout out’ in return for posting their picture – nice to meet you Vik!

The experience though highlighted how modern travelling and photography has made the digital age so accessible as within minutes of taking the picture, I was able to upload the picture to my phone (built in wifi on the camera) and email the picture using one of the underground’s several wi-fi service providers. I appreciate this advancement may not be for everyone, but the expectation of ‘always on internet access’ continues to grow. Emerging out of the underground to complete my journey, I’m reminded of the Elephant at Waterloo sculpture and now decide to research why it’s there. I leave you to follow the link above and to its sculptor – Kendra Haste.

Emerging back out into Waterloo Road to complete the clockwise route around the station, I pass the redeveloped LCC Fire Brigade Station Waterloo and cross the road to Emma Cons Gardens and complete my tour by chatting with the proprietor of a roadside coffee stall, and the stall manager for The Garden Shack plant stall opposite The Old Vic.

For more info, look up Waterloo on Wikipedia

Picture of the Day

This is one of many graffiti/artworks on display in Leake Street, also known as the Graffiti Tunnel or the Banksy Tunnel. For those unfamiliar with the area, don’t feel intimidated, but take a walk through the cavernous underground space under Waterloo Station. The street runs from Lower Marsh Street through to York Road where the smell of spray paint lingers in the air and is one of the homes of legal street art in London.

I can guarantee the images change frequently. I’ve chosen this as my picture of the day as a representation of what’s on view here. It’s vibrancy and scale draws me in, but to be honest I could have chosen any of the images I’d captured. If it inspires you to go take a look, then that’s good.

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4; Shutter Speed – 1/60; Focal Length – 25mm; Film Speed – ISO3200; Google Photo Filter – Palma

Social Media

YouTube, Instagram, Google Photos, Triptipedia – here I share some tips I use when travelling around London. A different twist on my ‘end of the line’ story