Waterloo to The London Eye: From Britain’s Busiest Station to Attraction

It’s that time of the week again as I make another one of my trips around our great capital! This week’s journey starts at Waterloo Station and takes the short walk to a spectacular piece of architecture, as I end at The London Eye. My walk will take me via the Royal Festival Hall, and three bridges, Waterloo, Hungerford, and Golden Jubilee. So let’s get started!

Waterloo to The London Eye

Like all good walks, I need to begin somewhere, and today it’s Waterloo Station. This terminus is Britain’s busiest train station with over 88 million people using it every year, with a staggering 22 platforms! But wait. I hear you ask. Doesn’t Clapham Junction have a sign saying IT’S the busiest train station in Britain?! Well that’s true, this is measured by how many trains pass through it, but for the sheer volume of passengers, Waterloo takes the honour.

Waterloo Station, not in rush hour luckily!

Waterloo Station was built in 1848 by London & South Western Railway as an extension of the mainline from Nine Elms Railway Station, which in the 1830s was a London Terminus.

Back in the 1850s to deal with the overcrowding problems of London’s cemeteries bodies were transported to a purpose-built Cemetery in Brookwood, Surrey from Waterloo. This gave it the name of the ‘Death Line’!

In 1878 and 1885 new platforms were built in the North and South of the station respectively. The terminus was rebuilt between 1900 and 1922 with it officially reopening in March 1922. It took nearly 100 years for the roof to be refurbished, happening between 2001 and 2003.

Waterloo Station concourse

Until it was moved to St Pancras in 2007, the Eurostar service ran from Waterloo Station, which began in 1994. Interestingly, French passengers weren’t happy about arriving in London to a station which reminded them of the French’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. Incredibly, one French politician went so far as to write a letter to then Prime Minister Tony Blair to demand it changed its name! But to no avail!

The terminus today covers an area of 24.5 acres with the roof measuring 20ft x 540ft with a maximum single span of 118ft. In addition to mainline South West Trains, the underground station has the Bakerloo, Jubilee, Northern and Waterloo & City tube lines.

Victory Arch

One of the entrances has what is known as the Victory Arch, which is Grade II listed. It was built from Portland Stone between 1907 and 1922 by James Robb Scott. It represents war and peace, with the Britannia figure over the top of it bearing the torch of liberty.

My walk from a busy station takes me past the Royal Festival Hall, a grade I listed hall which first opened in 1951.


It’s one of the world’s leading performance venues with a capacity of 2,500 seats with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment being notable residents.

Inside the wonderful hall (Credit: The Southbank Centre)

From the sound of music I take a slight detour to the sound of water, to my next destination along the Southbank, Waterloo Bridge!

Until the beginning of the 19th century, Blackfriars was the only bridge between Westminster and London Bridge. John Rennie was the engineering mastermind behind the first stone bridge which was laid on the 11th October 1811.

The stunning Waterloo Bridge structure

Originally called the Strand bridge, it was renamed Waterloo Bridge as a lasting legacy of the victory achieved in the Battle of Waterloo. It opened in 1817, on the second anniversary of the battle, at a total cost of £937,391.

By 1884 the foundations of the bridge were becoming exposed by the scour of the river, and as the years progressed it gradually got worse. In 1924 traffic was closed from it with a temporary bridge constructed. For almost a decade there was controversy as to what to do with the old bridge, and finally in 1934 it was decided to erect a modern bridge. The new bridge we see today opened in 1945 at a cost of around £1 million.

Opened in 1945, the modern-day Waterloo Bridge

The demolition of the old bridge and the design and construction of the new one were undertaken by Messrs. Rendel, Palmer & Tritton in association with the Council’s Chief Engineer, Sir Peirson Frank. The collaborating architect was Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. The new bridge is constructed with reinforced Portland Stone and grey Cornish granite, which was cut from the old bridge. To this day it sits perfectly on the South Bank scenery!

I now go from one vintage bridge to another, Hungerford Bridge, and to a more modern-day structure, the Golden Jubilee Bridge! Designed by Sir Isambard K. Brunel, Hungerford Bridge opened on the 1st May 1845, with the area having formally been a wharf and timber yard.

The amazing view from Hungerford and Golden Jubilee Bridges

However, in 1859 the Charing Cross Railway Act authorized the construction of a railway to cross the Thames near the site of Charing Cross Station with the suspension bridge removed. The new railway bridge began work 1860 and was completed in 1864 with a walkway either side.

The new structure of the Golden Jubilee Bridge either side of Hungerford Bridge

By the 1990s a decision was made to replace the footbridge with a new structures either side of the Hungerford Railway Bridge.  Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and engineers WSP Group won the competition to design it in 1996, and the two new 4-metre (13 ft) footbridges were completed in 2002. The Golden Jubilee name is in honour of the fiftieth anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne.

My final stop on today’s walk takes me to perhaps the most famous wheel in the world, The London Eye! Designed by Marks Barfield Architects and opening in 2000, it’s the world’s largest cantilevered observation wheel standing at 135m high. Interestingly, the wheel only had planning permission in its current location for five years with a plan to move it to a new location. However, due to its popularity it remained, and has now become Britain’s most popular paid for visitor attraction, and a marvelous addition to the London skyline!

It takes 30 minutes to go around the London Eye with a view of 40 km in all directions! There are 32 capsules to represent the 32 London boroughs with each weighing as much as 1,052,631 pound coins. Although, there are 32, for superstitious reasons they are numbered 1-33,with 13 being left out, as this is seen as an unlucky number.

View from The London Eye (Credit: The London Eye)

The London Eye can carry 800 people in each rotation, which is the same as 11 London red double decker buses. And don’t worry about the pace of the rotation… it goes at a speedy 26cm per second… twice as fast as a sprinting tortoise! One of the most notable events each year on it is the fireworks display on New Year’s Eve, and last year I was luckily enough to be there! Lasting just over 10 minutes, it’s a truly breathtaking spectacle, and a wonderful way to greet the New Year!

I was there to welcome in the New Year

Well my walk has taken me from the busiest railway station in Britain to the most popular attraction in Britain via the bridges of the capital. Hope you enjoyed it, and please leave your comments and thoughts below! You can also catch me on Twitter and Instagram too, and don’t forget to sign up to my blog!

Until next time, see you later! 🙂

Sources: (not the food sauces)

All photos taken by London Wlogger, unless credit given. © Copyright 2016

History of London Waterloo – Railway Technology 

9 Things You Didn’t Know about Waterloo – Londonist 

History of the Victory Arch – London Remembers

Royal Festival Hall – The Southbank Centre

History of Waterloo Bridge – British History Online

History of Hungerford Bridge – British History Online

Golden Jubilee Bridges – London Town

About the London Eye – The London Eye

Facts about the London Eye – Visit Britain

Leadenhall Market to Old Spitalfields Market: From Selling Food to Food Architecture

Welcome once again as I delve into London’s great walks and history! Today’s journey takes me from one market to another. I begin at Leadenhall Market and then go via some well-known modern landmarks, The Cheese Grater and The Gherkin. I then stop by London Liverpool Street Station before going through Petticoat Lane Market and ending at Old Spitalfields Market.

Leadenhall Market to Old Spitalfields Market

I start at Leadenhall Market, located in the heart of the city of London, which dates back to the 14th century, and is on what used to be a centre of Roman London.

Leadenhall Market

Back in the 1300s, the Manor of Leadenhall belonged to Sir Hugh Neville, though within a few years it became a popular meeting place for poulterers and cheese mongers. In 1411 Leadenhall was gifted to the City by former Lord Major Richard ‘Dick’ Whittington. By 1440 the then Lord Mayor Simon Eyre replaced the manor hall with a public granary, school, and chapel as a gift to London’s citizens.

The beautifully vintage market

The market then became enlarged to start selling food produce, such as poultry, grain, eggs, butter, cheese and other items. Over the next 200 years other markets were added with wool, leather, and cutlery proprietors appearing. It soon became one of the centres of commerce in the city.

Like most buildings in 1666, the market suffered a small amount of damage in the Great Fire of London, and during its rebuilding it was split into three separate areas; a Beef Market, the Green Yard, and the Herb Market.

Leadenhall Market was redesigned in 1881 by the City’s architect, Sir Horace Jones, who was also the architect for Billingsgate and Smithfield Market’s. By 1972 the stone structure with wrought iron and glass was replaced and given Grade II heritage listed status.

Until the 20th century the poultry market remained, and by the mid 20th century shops were used for general retailing and leisure. Today, this makes it one of the City’s five principal shopping centres. One thing you notice amongst the Victorian buildings is that every store, whether that’s Barbour or Pizza Express, has the same vintage branding you’d see centuries ago. This for me makes it quite the unique place.

From a market that sells cheese, we move to one that is shaped like something you’d use for it! 122 Leadenhall Street, or the Leadenhall Building, or as it’s affectionately known as ‘The Cheesegrater’, is a 225m (737ft) building that opened in July 2014. Designed by Graham Stirk of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, developed by British Land and Oxford Properties, and built by Laing O’Rourke, it covers 70,000 square metres of glass; the same area as 9 football pitches! It has 48 floors, and houses many corporate firms.

Cheesegrater (Credit: @CheesegraterLdn)

The nickname of The Cheesegrater came when the City of London Corporation’s chief planning officer, Peter Rees, commented to Richard Rogers, a senior partner of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, that he could ‘imagine his wife using it to grate parmesan’, and the name stuck! (And of course because it looks like a cheesegrater!) It also is slanted to have less impact on the protected view of St Paul’s Cathedral, and I have to say the architecture of it is grate….!

I’m taking just a slight detour from one food building to another, and I end up at The Gherkin! The commercial skyscraper was completed in December 2003, and opened in 2004.

The Gherkin

It’s 180 metres (591ft) tall with 41 storeys. Its structure was designed by Norman Foster and Arup group with it being erected by Skanska, taking two years to construct.

Beautiful Gherkin at night (Credit: The Gherkin)

It’s commonly referred to as one of the City’s most recognisable examples of contemporary architecture, and I have to say, it’s up there with other older landmarks as a distinctive part of our skyline.

I leave two of the capital’s most famous modern-day landmarks to visit one of London’s main networks to the East, Essex and East Anglia. London Liverpool Street Station was opened in 1874 as a new terminus for the Great Eastern Railway with connections to the Metropolitan railway, the world’s first underground railway.

London Liverpool Street Station

The station was built on the site originally occupied by the Bethlem Royal Hospital. Its roof was designed and built by the Fairburn Engineering Company, who also supplied the roof for the Royal Albert Hall.

Inside the station with the hustle and bustle of commuting

It wasn’t until the mid-1980s that it went under major redevelopment work with the modernising of the station’s facilities and simplifying the layout, but still retaining the grand 19th century architecture.

Outside the station stands a statue to the Children of the Kindertransport, which marks the people of Britain who saved the lives of 10,000 unaccompanied, mainly, Jewish children who fled Nazi persecution in 1938 and 1939. It was dedicated by the Associates of Jewish Refugees Central British Fund for World Jewish Relief in 2006.

Today, London Liverpool Street has 123 million visitors a year and is the main connection to Stansted Airport, with the tube lines including Central, Circle, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan lines.

I’d love to quickly jet set to Stansted Airport, but I’m off to hit more markets! The next of these is Petticoat Lane Market located near Old Spitalfields and Brick Lane, which is one of the oldest and most famous markets in London. It wasn’t formally registered and given legal trading until 1936.

Entrance to Petticoat Lane Market

The first reference to Petticoat Lane came in the early 1600s when it was called Peticote Lane with traders in its early days selling clothes and other cheap, second-hand items. Petticoat Lane Market is split into two markets in two locations with one on Wentworth Street which runs six days a week, and other on Middlesex Street that is only open on Sundays.

Petticoat Lane Market on a Sunday offering a variety of items

My final destination on my walk takes me to yet another one of London’s famous markets, Old Spitalfields!

Entrance to Old Spitalfields Market

The name Spitalfields takes its name from the hospital and priory, St Mary’s Spittel that was founded in 1197. The market first began trading in 1638 when traders used to work from a collection of sheds and stalls to meet the needs of an evergrowing London population. It soon became the popular place for fresh produce while trading six days a week.

The busy marketplace

By 1876 the market fell into decline due to a reputation of it being a cheap area in which to live and trade. This prompted former market porter Robert Horner to buy a short lease on the market to rebuild it. It was completed in 1893 at a cost of £80,000. The City of London acquired direct control of the market in 1920 and extended the buildings eight years later. With popularity and a bigger reputation, in May 1991 the wholesale fruit and vegetable market was forced to move to Leyton, East London to keep up with demand. This is known as New Spitalfields Market.

Vibrant Old Spitalfields Market

At the end of 2005, after 18 years, the Spitalfields regeneration programme was completed with new two public spaces, Bishops Square and Crispin Place, a public art programme, an events programme, retailers and restaurants.

When you visit the market today it’s a mix of fast food, designers, artists, with vintage and antique clothing and furniture!

Well, it has been an amazing walk to experience not just one, but three of London’s famous markets, as well as some of the most recognisable modern buildings.

Please share your memories and thoughts with me in the comments section, and don’t forget to follow the blog, and me on Twitter and Instagram

Thanks for joining me, and I’ll see you next time! 🙂

Sources: (not the food sauces)

All photos taken by London Wlogger, unless credit given. © Copyright 2016

History of Leadenhall Market

The Cheesegrater Twitter Account

The Leadenhall Building

The Gherkin Building

History of London Liverpool Street Station

History of Petticoat Lane Market

Old Spitalfields Market History

King’s Cross to Hampstead Heath: Unlocking London’s Beauty

Hello again! This week I’m going along probably one of my favourite walks, as I start at King’s Cross Station, join the Regent’s Canal to go via Camden Lock, before finishing on top of Hampstead Heath. It’s a long walk that will truly reveal London’s beauty!

King’s Cross to Hampstead Heath

My journey today starts at King’s Cross Railway Station, a southern terminus connecting the East Coast Main Line with high-speed links to Yorkshire, the North East, Scotland… and of course Hogwarts! The current station was built in 1851 under the direction of George Turnull and designed by architect Lewis Cubitt. The station’s roof was the largest at the time and based on the riding school of the Czars of Moscow.

Amazing architecture at King’s Cross

The King’s Cross we see today went under a huge transformation which began in 2007 and was completed in 2013. This included new entrances, more space, better facilities, and developments to the underground area. Despite the major construction work, it’s great to see the Victorian entrance and feel were restored.

How King’s Cross Station looks today

I leave the station to take me onto Granary Square where I’ll join one of London’s great walks, The Regent’s Canal!

The Regent’s Canal opened in 1801 to connect the Grand Junction Canal’s Paddington Arm with the Thames at Limehouse. One of the directors of the canal company was John Nash, someone who you’ll be familiar with from my previous walks! He knew Prince Regent, later King George IV who allowed his name to be used for the project.

In 1812 the Regent’s Canal Act was passed with the company formed and ready to operate along it. James Morgan, an assistant to Nash, was appointed as the canal’s engineer which opened on two stages, from Paddington to Camden in 1816, and the rest of the canal in 1820.

Map of the Regent’s Canal: Credit: The Guardian

However, its completion wasn’t without setbacks. William Congreve, who was famous for building military rockets, created the design for a hydro pneumatic lock at Hampstead Road Lock. Unfortunately, the lock was a failure and had to be redesigned in 1819.

Another setback was financial problems with one of the canal’s promoters, Thomas Homer, embezzling its funds in 1815. The canal cost £772,000 to build, twice the original estimated expenditure. The main centre for trade was the Regent’s Canal Dock which was a point for seaborne cargo from across the world.

The Regent’s Canal in the height of summer

Traffic and trade along the canal by the 1840s was being taken over by the railways, with a potential attempt, without success, to turn the canal into a railway line during the 19th century. By 1929 the Regent’s Canal, the Grand Junction Canal, and the Warwick Canals merged with The Regent’s Canal Company buying the canal assets from the other two parties. This resulted in it being renamed the Grand Union Canal Company.

In 1948 the canal, like other transport systems, was nationalised, and later on was operated under the name British Waterways.

There hasn’t been horse-drawn commercial traffic on the canal since 1956, and by the late 1960s commercial traffic had vanished. Today, it’s maintained by the Canal & River Trust stretching 8.6 miles (13.8 kilometres) long with many boat trips still organised along it with cyclists and walkers exploring it too.

So my walk along the Regent’s Canal from Granary Square takes me to a very cute little place called the St Pancras Basin.

St Pancras Basin

The lock was opened in 1870 as a coal wharf where boaters would load and unload cargoes, with the lock keeper living in the quaint little cottage. Today, the site hosts the St Pancras Cruising Club, and the area does give you the sense of an old railway station!

Just a small walk past the lock takes you to Gasholder Park, which perfectly combines heritage and nature.

Gasholder No.8

Iconic gasholder guide frames have decorated the King’s Cross landscape for 150 years. The largest of these is Gasholder No.8 which was built to store the town’s gas for Pancras Gasworks, the largest gas works in London. The Grade II listed structure was originally constructed in the 1850s, expanding in 1883. It consists of 16 hollow cylindrical cast iron columns in two tiers, 25 metres high. It was in use up until 2000 before it was decommissioned.

In 2011 it was dismantled and refurbished in Yorkshire before being re-erected in 2013 with a beautiful new park and event space, designed by Bell Phillips Architects. The below time-lapse of it being re-erected is pretty cool!

I make my way onto my next destination, Camden Lock. To get there you pass along many canal boats, waterfowl, cyclists, and fellow walkers!

Along St Pancras Way through Royal College Street.

Before we reach Camden Lock, we pass by another lock along the Regent’s Canal, Kentish Town Lock! With its flowing waterfall, you can’t help but just stand there and watch it!

I end up at the delightful Camden Lock where I’ll leave the Regent’s Canal walk today.

Hampstead Road Lock – Camden Lock

Camden Market, known also as Camden Lock, is one of London’s busiest retail destinations and one of the first crafts and antiques markets in London. Its range covers crafts workshops, stalls trading in handmade clothes and jewellery, music memorabilia, classic items, and authentic food.


The trading there is traced back to the 30th March 1974 when a brand new Saturday market was opened in Camden Town. The original market founders were business partners Dr. Bill Fulford and Peter Wheeler who bought a run-down timber yard belonging to T. E. Dingwalls to create what we know as Camden Lock Market.

Back then there were only the 16 traders covering antiques, jewellery, and arts & crafts. The market has come along way as it now has hundreds of small businesses which strengthens the multicultural diversity of the area. When you walk through it you can hardly move, and for me it’s one of the most vibrant, trendy, and creative places in the city.

A few facts about Camden Lock are that every year 28 million visitors will descend on it, most of whom appeared to be there in my pic! One thing to note is that Camden Lock doesn’t actually exist… the waterways flanking the market are three dual locks; Hampstead Road Lock, Hawley Lock, and Kentish Town Lock.

I’d love to stay for a spot of delicious lunch at the food stalls, but it’s now onto my final destination of the day, Hampstead Heath. My walk takes me past Chalk Farm and Belsize Park tube stations.

Walking past the lovely Hampstead Green and past Hampstead Heath Overground station gets me to the bottom of the entrance to the Heath.

Entrance to Hampstead Heath

Running from Hampstead to Highgate in North London covering 320 hectares (790 acres), Hampstead Heath is a grassy public space and ancient park which gives you one of the highest views in London. It isn’t just a park, as it features ponds, woodlands, a training track, and playground.

It was in the Middle Ages that digging and quarrying of sand took place in the Heath with large pits becoming ponds. However, by the early 19th Century these ponds were becoming dangerous and marring the appearance of the Heath. This led to the much objected excavation in the 1860s with sand and ballast being sold to the Midland Railway Co.

In 1865 the Open Spaces Society, Britain’s oldest national conversation body, was established to preserve the looming destruction of the Heath. It had become ever so popular with Londoners as a day out, attracting as many as 50,000 people on a Bank Holiday.

The Hampstead Heath Act 1871 was passed with formation of the Hampstead Heath Protection Society in 1897 with both aiming to preserve the natural aspect and state of the Heath. Since 1989 the Corporation of London has assumed ownership of Hampstead Heath.

Hampstead Ponds

One of Hampstead Heath’s features is the Hampstead Ponds which are three large freshwater swimming ponds for the public, perfect on a hot summers day! A walk through the woodlands takes us to the path before Parliament Hill.

I have to say being at the bottom of this stretch of path gives me the same feeling I’d get when I come downstairs on Christmas morning. You know you’re going to feel happy, and that same anticipation is there, as you’re about to see, for me, the best view in London!


At the top of Parliament Hill the view is simply breathtaking. You get goosebumps and a lump in your throat standing there as you feel like you’re on top of the world.


You can see pretty much everything in London from here. From Canary Wharf to The Shard to the London Eye, you don’t miss anything. It encapsulates all of London’s beauty.


The view from the other side of the Heath isn’t too bad either! You just can’t help but take a load of photos, even when you walk down the hill, the view on a more level ground still looks amazing.


View across London with a glimpse of the training track
At the bottom of Parliament Hill

I can’t think of a better and more stunning way to end a walk! Thanks once again for joining me, and in the meantime, please share your thoughts in the comments section, follow the blog, and me on Twitter and Instagram!

See you next week! 🙂

Sources: (not the food sauces)

All photos taken by London Wlogger, unless credit given. © Copyright 2016

History of King’s Cross

Canal Museum 

Regent’s Canal Map

London Remembers 

Gasholder 8

Camden Market History

Hampstead Heath History

The Shard to Monument: Modern-Day and Classic Architecture

Thanks for joining me as I take another journey across London’s sights! This week I’ll take a short walk, but I’ll see a lot! My route begins at The Shard takes me through Borough Market and past Southwark Cathedral before taking a stroll across London Bridge and finally finishing at Monument.

The Shard to Monument

My journey starts at the tallest building in the UK, The Shard. With 95 stories and standing at 309.6 metres (1,016ft) high, it’s also the fourth tallest building in Europe and the 105th tallest building in the world.

The Shard’s developer was Irvine Sellar, who had an ambitious vision to create an architecturally striking building that incorporated retail, offices, hotel, apartments, restaurants and a public viewing gallery. In November 1998 Sellar acquired Southwark Towers, occupied by PwC, and in May 2000 he arranged a lunch in Berlin with award-winning architect Renzo Piano.

Interestingly, Renzo said that he hated tall buildings! But he loved the energy of the railway lines at London Bridge and the Thames nearby. He sketched his vision of the building we see today, and The Shard was born! The inspiration of the design came from the spires of London churches and the masts of tall ships depicted by the 18th-century Venetian.

The Shard looks just as glamorous at night as it does during the day – Photo Credit: The Shard

There were testing times for The Shard ahead due to the lengthy planning process, high-profile public inquiry, and investment problems as a result of the global economic crash. However, in 2008 the State of Qatar came on board with much needed investment.

The construction came under great challenges with sub-zero temperatures, gale force winds, and The Thames breaking through the protective dam. Nevertheless, in 2012 it was complete and opened by the Prime Minister of Qatar. Since then, its restaurants, hotel and viewing gallery have been opened to the public and tenants have begun to move into its offices.

The breathtaking view across the city from The Shard. Photo taken April 2016

The Shard is located at London Bridge station, the oldest railway station in London fare zone 1, and one of the oldest in the world having opened in 1836. The station is the fourth busiest in the country with 56 million passengers travelling into it each year (many delayed!).

Currently, London Bridge is under a major construction project including a new bus station underway, station concourse, more entrances to the station, platform developments, and links to Crossrail. All this is due for completion in Spring 2018.

I leave the impressive Shard building and London Bridge station to take me on to Borough Market, London’s oldest food market which is over a 1,000 years old, having dated as far back as 1014.

Many of the Market’s stallholders are producers, from farmers to fisherman, with all the stalls, shops, and restaurants combining traditional British produce and regional specialities from across the world.

After a tasty trip to Borough Market I head to Southwark Cathedral which is the mother church of the Anglican Diocese of Southwark, and has been a place of Christian worship for more than 1,000 years. It has only been a cathedral since the creation of the diocese (a district under the pastoral care of a bishop in the Christian Church) of Southwark since 1905.

The pleasantly beautiful Southwark Cathedral

The current building has retained its Gothic structure that was built between 1220 and 1420. In 1539 it became the property of King Henry VIII who rented it out to the congregation, with being re-named St Saviour’s. However, in 1611 a group of merchants known as ‘the Bargainers’ bought it from King James I for £800, as they became tired of renting the church for worshiping.


Throughout the 16th and 17th century many repairs were done to it, and by the 1820s is was threatened with demolishment due to proposals for a new London Bridge. Luckily, after much consultation, the building was restored, and it was thanks to architect George Gwilt that many of today’s parts are still there.

A new diocese was created with a new nave designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield in 1895 and by 1905 St Saviour’s church became Southwark Cathedral. The diocese has a population of two and a half million servicing over 300 parishes from Thamesmead in the east to Thames Ditton in the west.

In 2000 major extensions, designed by Richard Griffiths, were added to the north of the Cathedral, adding meeting & conference rooms, a library, Education Centre, and a shop. Today, the cathedral holds five services a day all year round and is a centre of teaching, worship, prayers, and pilgrimage.

After embracing one element of heritage I move onto another, and to pretty much why this area is known as London Bridge! Before Medieval times, the only way to cross the Thames on the north bank to the southern suburb of Southwark was by ferry or a rickety wooden bridge… so both risky and not that convenient!

However, in 1176 after two successive wooden bridges were destroyed by fires, Henry II commissioned the building of a permanent stone crossing and after 33 years of construction, it was to last more than 600 years!

The finished bridge was 275m long with 20 gothic arches, and had a chapel, shops, and seven storey houses either side of it. Although the bridge was 8m wide, the buildings reduced the space for traffic to just 4m, making the journey still arduous which sometimes could take as long as an hour! Fire hazards were still prevalent with the worst coming in 1212 caused by sparks from a house, with at least 3,000 people dying.

In 1281, 1309, 1425 and 1437, several parts of the bridge collapsed. The 1281 collapse happened when expanding ice from the frozen Thames crushed five of the arches. These collapses were blamed on Queen Eleanor who was accused of misappropriating the bridges revenues and failing to repair them properly. Hence this is where the rhyme “London Bridge is falling down” comes from, as a dig at the Queen!

By the 18th century the old London Bridge, then over 600 years old, needed to be replaced with John Rennie winning the competition to design it (unconfirmed whether it was a process like The Apprentice or X Factor!).  Rennie’s proposal was a five stone arch bridge 928 (283m) feet long and 49 feet (15m) wide. It started its development in 1824 and was completed in 1831 at a cost of £2.5 million (£205 million in 2015).

View of Tower Bridge from London Bridge
In 1967 the bridge was placed on the market and sold to an American in 1968, Robert P. McCulloch of McCulloch Oil for $2,460,000. Its reconstruction was designed by Lord Holford and completed in 1972 at a cost of £4 million (£51 million in 2015). Today, it truly gives you a beautiful view across the city with The Shard, Tower Bridge, the Walkie Talkie, and Cannon Street station all visible from it.

A walk a long the bridge takes me to our final stop today, Monument. The structure located at Monument Street and Fish Street Hill was built between 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London, and to celebrate the rebuilding of the city. The fire which started in a baker’s house in Pudding Lane on Sunday 2nd September 1666 was finally extinguished on Wednesday 5th September. It destroyed most of the city with only stone buildings, St Paul’s and the Guildhall, surviving. Although it did help eradicate some of the black rats that carried the Bubonic Plague.

The Monument commemorating the Great Fire of London

Sir Christopher Wren, the architect of St Paul’s Cathedral, and is colleague Dr Robert Hooke, provided the design of the Monument structure. The plans drew up contained 311 steps leading to the viewing platform surmounted by a drum and a copper urn to symbolise where the flames of the Great Fire came from. It is 61 metres high (202 feet), the exact distance between it and the site on Pudding Lane where the fire began.

The inscription on the bottom of the sculpture

On 4th October 1677, the Court of Alderman requested Dr Gale, a master of St Paul’s School, to devise a fitting inscription for the new pillars.


Three Latin inscriptions were devised covering the three panels. The north side records the City’s destruction, the south its restoration, and the east signifies the years and mayoralties in which the erection of the Monument was commenced. Also on the west is a sculptured design by Cidder.

So my journey has taken me from one end of London Bridge to the other where I’ve seen both impressive modern-day and older architecture. Hope you’ve enjoyed my short stroll, and stay tuned for another walking route next week!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below, and don’t forget to follow the blog and me on Twitter and Instagram 🙂

Sources: (not the food sauces)

All photos unless credit given London Wlogger © Copyright 2016

The Shard

The Railway Age 

National Rail

Day Tours of London

Southwark Cathedral History 

History of London Bridge

London Bridge Facts

History of Monument 

Marble Arch to Mayfair: Streets and Squares

It’s that time again as I take another walking journey to explore the wonders of the capital! This week my route begins at Marble Arch takes me along the shopping areas of Oxford Street, Regent Street and New Bond Street via Cavendish Square on to Berkeley Square before finishing in Shepherd Market in Mayfair.

Marble Arch to Mayfair

So I start at Marble Arch, a monument located at the junction at Oxford Street, Edgware Road and Park Lane in Westminster. The arch, unsurprisingly is made from Carrara marble, who knew it! It was built in 1825 and designed by our good friend John Nash, who you’ll remember had a significant part to play in our last walking journey, Victoria to Green Park!

Marble Arch

The arch’s unique design was based on the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in Paris, as well as the Arch of Constantine in Rome (you can see the resemblance in both!).

John Flaxman was picked to create the sculpture though he sadly died before he could complete it, which meant the job was split between three men, J.C.F Rossi, Sir Richard Westmacott and Edward Hodges Baily.

Interesting, the Marble Arch was originally intended to be the ceremonial entrance to Buckingham Palace and it was located there until it moved to its current place in 1851. Its new location in Marble Arch is opposite the Speaker’s Corner, once the site of executions at Tyburn Gallows. The square panels on the north side have three figures representing Wales, England and Scotland with other sculptures to represent Peace and Plenty. Legend has it there are three small rooms in the arch occasionally used as a police station and lookout.

The bronze gates, designed by Samuel Parker, feature the Lion of England and the figure of St George and the Dragon, England’s patron saint. So with its Royal history, you can pass through the gates once graced by many famous royals!

I move from Marble Arch onto my next location, to perhaps one of the most famous shopping areas in the world, Oxford Street! Currently Europe’s busiest shopping street with around half a million daily visitors and an annual turnover of over £1 billion, it runs for approximately 1.2 miles (1.9km). It covers Park Lane, Edgware Road, Bayswater Road, Vere Street, New Bond Street, Bond Street Station, Oxford Circus and to Regent Street.

Oxford Street

It was previously known as Tyburn Road, after the River Tyburn which ran to the south of the street located near Uxbridge Road, Worcester Road and Oxford Road. By about 1729, it had become known as Oxford Street. In the 1730s the turnpike trust was established to improve the road’s upkeep which was notorious as a route taken by prisoners on their final journey to Newgate Prison.

By the 18th century the street went under many redevelopments after its surrounding fields were purchased by the Earl of Oxford. In the 1750s buildings began to be erected on the corner of Oxford Street and Davies Street. The street became popular with entertainers including theatres and by the end of the century it was built up from St Giles Circus to Park Lane. It wasn’t until the 19th century that Oxford Street changed from residential to retail with drapers, cobblers and furniture stores beginning to appear. Notable retail occupants were John Lewis in 1864 and Selfridges in 1909.

Today, several retail chains regard their Oxford Street branch as their flagship store, and with nearly 300 stores in the area you can get everything from furniture to fashion, to cooking to computing!

I leave Oxford Street to take a slight detour up to Cavendish Square located at the Eastern end of Wigmore Street. It was first laid out by architect John Prince at the beginning of 1717 for the 2nd Earl of Oxford, with its name deriving from the Earl’s wife, Henrietta Cavendish-Holles. Notable residents in the square were the Duke of Portland, Duke of Chandos, Princess Amelia and the Lane Baronets.

Cavendish Square

In 1951 a blue plaque was unveiled to commemorate H.H. Asquith,  the liberal Prime Minister of the UK from 1908 to 1916, who himself owned and lived at 20 Cavendish Square. The University of Westminster’s founder, Quintin Hogg, also has a plaque there with The Royal College of Nursing’s HQ around the square too.stat

The bronze statue on the south side of the square, sculptured by Thomas Campebell, is of William George Frederick Cavendish Bentinck  (Lord George Bentinck) (1802-1848) who was a Conservative MP for King’s Lynn, Norfolk.

From the pleasant Cavendish Square I take a walk back onto Oxford Street and along to Regent Street. Like its partnering Oxford Street, it features many shops with 7.5 million tourists visiting it every year. Its history dates back as far as the 19th century and was designed by that man again, John Nash! Is there anything in London he didn’t design?! The project of having handcrafted architecture for the shops took 14 years to complete with the name Regent Street coming from Prince Albert Regent who supported its development. In the modern day it now features some of the most recognisable shops in the country, including Liberty, toy store Hamleys and Apple.


Regent Street

My journey from Regent Street takes me onto New Bond Street,  the streets just keep coming! One thing you notice about New Bond Street is the brands on offer get pretty high end, from Gucci to Rolex! Built in the 1720s by Sir Thomas Bond, by the 18th century it became a place for more upper-class residents of Mayfair to socialise, hence the many luxury brands that continue to be there today!

The well heeled New Bond Street

From there I take a walk through many short streets onto Berkeley Square in Mayfair. The square, named after John Berkeley, the first Lord of Berkeley of Stratton, acquired the land in 1675 and from there developed his estate. One of the most notable buildings in the square is Landsdowne House, designed by Robert Adam in 1762, and became the venue for many cabinet meetings as well as the home for eight years of Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridges.

Berkeley Square

Every September to the north of the pump house in the square, is the glamorous Berkeley Square Ball in aid of the Princes Trust.

My journey now takes me to my final location on this week’s walk to a charming small square and piazza of Shepherd Market, tucked away between Piccadilly and Curzon Street in Mayfair.

The entrance to Shepherd Market

Mayfair itself is named after the infamous 15 day fair established by James II in the 1680s which took place in Shepherd Market. Developed in 1735-1746  by local architect Edward Shepherd, the market featured path alleys, a duck pond, a two-storey market and theatre. During the 1920s it was an ultrafashionable address for some of London’s most refined inhabitants and is described as ‘The Heart of Mayfair’.

The tranquil Shepherd Market

Not a single part of the market is wasted today with places ranging from a barbers to a stationery shop to pubs to restaurants to a pharmacy. The great aspect for me is despite being near a busy road, and amongst the vast buildings of Mayfair, it has still kept its village and histroical feel, and is definitely a hidden gem!

My walking journey has truly taken me through the streets and squares of London! Please share your thoughts and comments on London below, I’d love to hear them! Also remember to follow the blog either on WordPress or via email, and check me out on Twitter and Instagram too! I’ll see you next week for another walking adventure! 🙂

Sources: (not the food sauces)

All photos: London Wlogger © Copyright 2016

About Britain

Famous Wonders

Timeout London

British History


The Culture Trip

Berkeley Square

Shepherds Market