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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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#50: Clapham Junction (revisited) – 30/04/2019

Wow! Just over a year on since I started this blog when I took my first nervous step from Gospel Oak in April 2018; and now I’ve completed my 50th journey. An average of one a week that has grown from a simple idea, to one that now has multiple channels to help spread the word.

The station

I first visited Clapham Junction nearly a year ago, so today was a return to complete my visit of the twin Overground line termini. Strange as it is, both termini are on the same platform, though separated by buffers and different parts of the platform named Platform 1 and Platform 2.

Clapham is a busy station with 17 platforms and over a 1,000 trains stopping daily for passengers to change trains to other destinations from Addlestone to Yeovil Junction…and slightly offset in the middle of the platforms are multiple sidings and train sheds where services either start from or end up after all passengers have alighted.

As I head out of the station through the Brighton Yard entrance to make my way to the river, I meet Jermaine and his travelling companion – Sif, a Bearded Dragon.

It is Sif’s picture that makes it as my ‘Picture of the Day’ below, and we chat a little as I enjoy the sight of Sif basking in the sun. The focus of our discussion is the impact of today’s teaching demands on teachers and on their wellbeing; teachers who care passionately about children’s development but are blighted by unrealistic educational targets and dwindling resources. We agree that good support mechanisms can be invaluable but regrettably it’s not universally available.

The Thames Path

My journey today is a relatively short one following the Thames Path from where I’d previously visited in Cotton Row, and I head west as far as Putney, with a flirtatious diversion through fashionable Wandsworth.

Now I’ve referenced The Thames Path many a time before, but this time I’m including a personal reference. My sister in law and her sister, who call themselves ‘Two Welsh Walkers’ are soon to walk the full length of 185 miles from the source of the Thames at Trewsbury Mead in Gloucestershire to the Thames Barrier in aid of Asthma UK. They are lovers of walking and last year completed the 60 mile route of the Caledonian Canal, so I send my best wishes to them on this year’s epic. If you’d like to support their cause, please visit their Just Giving page.

Riverside Views

I can’t begin to imagine how the riverside may have looked a 100 years ago except through historical photographs. Even in my lifetime, 50 years ago it will have looked different to today as almost every stretch of the embankment, as far as the eye can see, has been transformed into a luxury high rise dwelling with magnificent views; and for the hardy marine folk, houseboats adorn part of the embankment too.

Let’s not forget the Thames is still a working river, and I’ve tried to capture the artistry and architecture of some, where today’s light industry meets the shoreline.

Cement works, Pier Terrace
Western Riverside Waste Authority Recycling Facility, Smuggelrs Way

Old Wandsworth

Admittedly I only flirt with old Wandsworth as I detour from the river, but what I see along York Road is a very bijou and fashionable street full of independent shops, cafes and restaurants. One in particular captures my immediate attention; that of a static coffee stall immediately outside the station – CWTCH.

Now those of you who know the Welsh language will recognise this word with affection, and their website nicely defines its meaning as ‘a small Welsh hug’. Not a literal translation, as I don’t think there is one, but it does represents the intent behind the word, although not necessarily the emotion. (There are other meanings too such as cubbyhole or cupboard).

I spend a little time talking with those working there who beam broadly when I ask them if they know what it means, and they explain a little about the stall’s brief history and naming. Ah! Such a welcome sight that makes me smile as I continue with my journey.

I hadn’t realised that Wandsworth gets its name from the river Wandle, and the eagle eye’d of you will know that I’ve encountered the Wandle before during my visit to Morden. The river now reaches its journey’s end as it discharges into the Thames nearby at Bell Lane Creek where a little oasis of peace has been recreated on a small peninsula known as The Spit.

Nearby is one of London’s many Victorian backstreet pubs, and this one with its unusual name captures my interest – The Cat’s Back. The pub has a history of several name changes (formally Brush; Forester’s Arms; Ye Olde House at Home), but in the 1990’s it was renamed after a lost cat returned.

The local community is blessed with much greenery and I notice as I walk through Bramford Gardens, a thriving community garden which has taken over a quiet corner of this unassuming space. And on a much grander scale is the open space and tree lined avenues of Wandsworth Park with its riverside walk, and if you look closely as you walk through, there are several sculptures dotted around to help pique your interest. On today’s sunlit afternoon, and the trees almost in full leaf, the view is an enticing one which has drawn many people and children out to enjoy this space.

Bramford Community Garden
Wandsworth Park

I end my journey arriving at Putney Bridge, but not before a quick scamper onto the Fulham Railway Bridge that has a footpath running along side it. I also stop at 13 Deodar Road where I spot an unusual building plaque. This one for the Grand Priory of England of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. A small unassuming building tucked away, but one that made me read about the Order and its history. I invite you to do the same.

Fulham railway bridge looking from the south shore

Picture of the Day

Meet Sif, the bearded dragon.

I’m surprised to see him sitting on a book (The end of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas) with his keeper, both of whom were enjoying the sunshine. I had to ask if he was real and in doing so, got into conversation with Jermaine, a local resident who was enjoying the sunshine.

The soft tones of the book he’s sitting on blended nicely with the brick wall behind, and with each shot I got closer but making sure the eyes were the focal point. 

Sif is a good subject, and seems unperturbed by my intrusion, but just like taking pictures of children, I believe the secret is to shoot quickly and keep a close crop so that the subject fills the screen.

Sif, a bearded dragon

Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ/6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 37mm; Film Speed – ISO100; Google Photo Filter – Blush

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