31 July, 2009

St Andrews Under Gherkin

St Andrews undershaft in the city was so named because it used to be underneath an enormous maypole. Maypole dancing was the rave of its time, ruthlessly supressed because of illegal drinking, perhaps substances and almost certainly sexual shenanigans. At the same time, just like rave, when the authorities turned up it was usually almost over.

Today the church nestles in the shade not of a maypole but the gherkin, and is used by St Helens, Bishopsate.

26 July, 2009

Morden to Crystal Palace

Morden is the terminus of the northern line and the begining of the st Hellier Estate named after Lady St Hellier, of the London County Council, not the capital of Jersey. It's a large interwar cottage estate with fairly generous cottages and flats, mostly privatised. There's a big co-op at Rose Hill.
The other end of St Hellier is Carshlton Village. It's much posher here and they go rather a bundle on Anne Boleyn whose family were the local nobs. There is a well next to the church (All Saints) called Anne Boleyn's well but it is dry and completely obscured with planting. It is said that where here horse kicked, a spring welled up. A plaque states that this is unlikely and it is probably more likely to be Bullen's Well, after the Lord of the Manor.

Beyond Carshalton (allegedly pronounced case horton although I don't know anybody who does) is Croydon. It's easy to be sniffy about Croydon but the library is good with bound copies of Punch from first to last and other bound journals, like The Builder from the twenties and thirties. My goal was shopping which was frustrating.
Journeys end was the Crystal Palace, Norwood, via anerley.

24 July, 2009

London E3

Fooled you - this post is not about Bow, it is rather the route of the E3 'bus as it wids its way through the Borough of Ealing from Greenford to Acton where I got off in the middle of a very violent electrical storm where I got soaked to the skin.
Don't confuse Greenford with where the tube sation bearing that name is. The tube station bit is all rather industrial, but the centre of the suburb is quite pleasant with shops(including charity shops) including one very disorganised one in support of dementia. The library was a refurbished building of 1934 and sat next to the Police station and clinic in a little civic group with Greenford Hall (four rooms available for almost any function). Ravenor park was green with a play area and not much else although it was home to the London Motorcycle museum closed when I called, although Diamond Geezer calls it a gem.

Enough already! Time to get the E3 to Greenford Avenue for the photo that appears on the other blog and walk through the dignified housing estate perhaps called castlebar park. On to Hanwell with its unrefurbished Carnegie library dating from 1906.
There was even a picture of Andrew Carnegie in there but it looked as though refurbishment was needed. Hanwell had a curious clock surrounded by workmens barriers
and was home to both the Westminster City and the Kensington Cemeteries. The Westminster cemetery was brash and austentatious as befits a cemetery serving both Soho and theatreland (one and the same really) and the Kensington cemetery was much more discreet as befits a cemetery serving royalty.

I took my lunch in the KFC in West Ealing and walked to Northfields
with a park called Lamass Park and an unusual and early cinema converted to an Elim Pentecostal Church. It was here that the heavens opened and hail, lightning and thunder ended my journey soaked to the skin.

19 July, 2009

Bethnal Green - Globe town.

A visit to Bethnal Green to see a presentation on the Stairway to Heaven Memorial to the people killed in the Bethnal Green tube sttion disaster. I found this so moving that I don't really want to describe it here but you can take a look at stairway to heaven memorial and donate something if you wish.

The rest of the day was spent walking in Bethnal Green and Globe town with a guide to walks in Tower Hamlets. I wasn't sure what the producers of the guide were trying to show me, unless it was a general look how nice it is here, because there were some pleasant squares and courtyards and some innovative housing, although there were a lot of flats. Of interest was the first ever block erected by the William Sutton Trust, now celebrating 100 years since building.

The trust began in 1900 but only built its first estate in 1909. William Sutton allegedly let his £80million fortune (at today's prices) for housing for the poor because his second wife turned up after their honeymoon with a daughter he didn't know about! Be that as it may the trust is still going strong although like most housing associations they have had to merge with others.

More modern flats can be found nearby. These were the first cluster blocks and the architect was Denys Lasdun and was an attemp to induce a sense of belonging and a street in the sky. I'll leave it to you to decide which of this or Sutton you'd prefer, although I must say I would be torn.

My walk ended in Weavers fields where the surveilance cameras are mounted on a sculpture. Ater this I returned to Bethnal Green Library to meet a friend to search for the mouth of the Hackney brook, one of London's lost rivers as spoken about by Iain Sinclair at Gresham College last month (http://www.gresham.ac.uk/event.asp?PageId=45&EventId=886) and we discovered it! Quite impressive, although there was a British Waterways barge right in front.
Not the best picture I've taken.