I’ve spent most my years, and all my adult life, living in the home counties, West of London. As I sit at my desk working through my photos and typing this post I need only lean back to see the station from which I can be in Waterloo in 45 minutes. I’ve lived here for nearly 9 years and over this period I believed that I had become quite familiar with the capital.
During a recent conversation I realised that I had no conception of where the world famous Spitalfields Market was. A brief study of a map led me to the realisation that whilst, I regularly visited the museums and parks of the West, the tourist traps of Hyde Park, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Covenant Garden and the Southbank and had made trips to the modern Docklands and neighbouring Greenwich there were vast swathes of the capital of which I had no knowledge.
To rectify this I planned a trip with a view to capturing some shots. From Waterloo I caught the Waterloo and City line to Bank. This line seems almost a throwback to a different, more trusting time, with no need to go through barriers to reach the platform. The announcements are also still of the original recordings in tribute to the voice actor upon his death.
When I arrived in the City I came up from the tube station to the stunning Royal Exchange and it dawned on me that not only was Spitalfields outside my sphere of experience, much of the city was also.
Upon turning round in all directions were famous landmarks. Including Mansion House.
I imagine the Square Mile is unique as a financial centre. There is such a juxtaposition of old narrow lanes and historic buildings contrasted against ultra modern skyscrapers of glass and steel. For me the most startling example of this is the collocation of the trail-blazing Gherkin overshadowing the neighbouring 15th century church, which survived Great Fire, St Andrews Undershaft.
Despite the uncertain economic outlook there was evidence of much new infrastructure and construction projects – in fact without this work the area would have felt eerie as the weekday workforce were obviously at home for the weekend.
I walked north through the City until I reached the edge of Spitalfields. There was a completely different feel here than in the areas of London I was familiar. There were many exciting shops, cafes and eateries and in the main covered market the array of food stalls was overwhelming. The modern extension has been sympathetically completed and it is a great example of the renewal of a historic site with the injection of some skilfully thought out architecture. The atmosphere felt much more like this market served a community, rather than being a destination for tourists.
After lunch I explored the surrounding streets. Again I was surprised by the comparison of old and new and even more so by the number of neglected or even derelict buildings only 15 minutes walk from one of the great financial capitals of the world.
I then walked back towards City, one of my plans for the day was to visit the exhibition in the Guildhall. The Guildhall buildings surround an interesting ‘yard’ under which is a Roman Amphitheatre. I explored their permanent collection and enjoyed the visiting exhibition which included the Victorian painting of the Polar Bears normally housed in the local to me Holloway University. A real treat, which was unexpected was the subterranean room displaying the remains of the amphitheatre.
I decided to walk from there back to Waterloo and wanted to visit the roof top terrace on One New Change that I’d heard afforded great views of St Paul’s and the London Skyline. I was not disappointed; the aspect on the way up and the panorama from the top were spectacular and I have displayed a few of my favourite images below along with a view of St Paul’s from the other end than I normally approach it.
I had one final stop on the way back – that was just after I’d crossed Millennium Bridge – The Tate Modern. I left from the South exit and noticed the pattern that the cladding had created and wanted to document it.
Thanks for stopping by – I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I did putting together.