A very happy hello to you and thanks for joining me on another expedition of London’s best sights and hidden gems. My walk today will explore more of London’s wonderful bridges, as I begin at Chiswick Bridge and take a stroll past Kew Railway Bridge and Kew Bridge. My journey will end in the picturesque and quaint Kew Green where I’ll watch a cricket match! It’s a short walk, but I’ll uncover a really beautiful part of the capital along the River Thames.
My first stop on my walk is Chiswick Bridge, which opened in 1933. Located in Mortlake, the reinforced concrete deck arch bridge was designed by Sir Herbert Baker and Alfred Dryland – with it being constructed by Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company.
The two villages of Chiswick and Mortlake, located either side of the north and south banks of the River Thames, had been linked by a ferry since the 17th century. However, in the 19th century with the arrival of the railway and London Underground, as well as increased ownership of cars, the populations of Chiswick and Mortlake grew rapidly.
This caused congestion problems, which led to the construction of the A316 road. The new road required two new bridges to be built at Twickenham and Chiswick. In addition, to Chiswick Bridge opening, Twickenham Bridge was built as well as the rebuilding of Hampton Court Bridge. After the construction of the bridges, this resulted in the ferry being closed permanently.
The bridge is 606 feet (185 m) long, and carries two 15-foot (4.6 m) wide walkways, and a 40-foot (12 m) wide road. At the time it was built, the 150-foot (46 m) central span was the longest concrete span over the Thames. One distinct and unusual feature of Chiswick Bridge is only three of its five arches span across the river, with the other two passing over the towpath. The bridge is also famous for being the finishing point in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race.
I really love Chiswick Bridge’s concrete structure, which makes it look so grand and elegant. Like all the bridges I’ve discovered on my walks, it stands prominent along the Thames, with such splendour. The view from it isn’t too bad either with the natural beauty of trees and glorious greenery on both sides of the riverbank.
As you leave Chiswick Bridge you get to enjoy a wonderful walk under the trees along the riverside path.
Walking along the towpath takes you to the very unique Kew Railway Bridge. Opening in 1869, the five wrought iron lattice girder bridge was designed by W. R. Galbraith and built by Brassy & Ogilvie for the London and South Western Railway. The bridge was part of an extension of the railway from Acton Junction to Richmond.
Given Grade II listed structure protection in 1983, it carries London Overground trains between Richmond and Stratford, and District Line London Underground trains from Richmond and Upminster. It’s such a quirky bridge and one of the few in London which carries only trains, not cars or pedestrians. The colour of it blends in so well with the colour of the trees and water, which adds to its wonderful character.
I’ll now take a stroll along the lovely riverside onto the final of the three bridges on my journey, Kew Bridge.
The first bridge on the site was built by Robert Tunstall of Brentford who previously owned the ferry which was located on the river in Kew. This bridge was inaugurated on 1 June 1759 by the Prince of Wales and was opened to the public three days later. There was massive excitement for the opening of the new bridge with over 3,000 people crossing over it in its first day.
The original bridge was constructed with two stone arches at each end and seven timber arches in between, which was costly to maintain and consequently ‘only’ lasted 30 years. In 1782, the bridge gained consent to be replaced with a new structure which was designed by James Paine – opening on 22 September 1789.
By the 1890s the second bridge wasn’t able to cope with the weight of the traffic and engineer Sir John Wolfe Barry was invited to assess the bridge. He suggested to build a new bridge, rather than modify it. Designed by Sir John Wolfe-Berry and Cuthbert A. Brereton, the third bridge was opened by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra on 20 May 1903 – and this is the bridge we see today. The bridge has also inspired many artists who’ve painted or drawn it, including Paul Sandby, James Webb, Henry Muhrman, J.M.W. Turner and Myles Birket Foster.
Like with so many of London Bridge’s, the stone design makes it distinct and is quite similar to Chiswick Bridge. The view across the river of Kew is really breathtaking with beautiful trees either side and you can just about see Kew Railway Bridge in the distance too.
My final destination on my walk is Kew Green, which has to be one of my favourite destinations that I’ve visited on all my London expeditions. The 30 acre (12 hectare) triangular space has been a venue for cricket since the 1730s – with one of the earliest matches being played there between Kent and Brentford in June 1730. Kew Cricket Club was established in 1882 following the amalgamation of two local clubs – Kew Oxford Cricket Club and Kew Cambridge Cricket Club.
On the day I visited I was lucky enough to watch an actually cricket match, which was a friendly between Kew Cricket Club and Acton Cricket Club. When cricket is being played it’s so scenic and whenever you think of village cricket you certainly have this view in mind. It’s such a quintessentially and traditional British sight a game of cricket on a village green, something you’d see on a postcard. I do love the sound of a willow bat on ball, very soothing and pleasant. The beautiful pavilion on one side with the St Anne’s Church on the south side makes it very reminiscent of Richmond Green. Unlike Richmond Green, I have actually played on this green back in 2014 for a work cricket day for a friend – so it’s one cricket ground I’ve ticked off my list!
Well that’s all from me today, and I couldn’t think of a more perfectly pleasant way to end my walk than on the cute Kew Green basking in the sun watching cricket! Hope you’ve enjoyed joining me on this walk which has seen me explore another three of London’s bridges and one of its great little treasures.
Thanks for reading and in the meantime you can follow all my walks on Twitter and Instagram, and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too so you don’t miss a post! Also why not have a read of my other walks which explore all over London, from north to south, to west to east via central, there’s something there for you! 🙂 Here are the links to them all below for you!
A warm Wlogger welcome to you and thanks for joining me on my next walking adventure of the capital! My expedition today will see me explore South-East London as I begin at Crystal Palace Park and explore its stadium, lakes, green areas… and dinosaurs! I’ll then take a detour to Sydenham Wells Park go through Sydenham Hill Wood and to Dulwich Wood. I’ll end my journey at Dulwich & Sydenham Golf Club, which might seem like an odd place to end a walk… but all will be revealed later on! So let’s discover some of the lesser-known natural sights of London!
Located in South-East London, Crystal Palace Park is a Victorian pleasure ground used for cultural and sporting events.
The park was built by Sir Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace Company between 1852 and 1854. It was created as the magnificent setting for the relocated and enlarged Crystal Palace structure, which had been designed for the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park.
The area was designed to impress, educate, entertain and inspire, eventually becoming an international attraction with its educational themes for the park covering discovery and invention. The Crystal Palace was a large glass and iron structure that was situated on the Sydenham Ridge and provided stunning views across London with the palace viewable from many location across the city. One of the main aims of the park and palaces creation was to display Victorian grandeur and innovation, and was financed when people paid to visit it.
After the park was officially opened on the 10th June 1854 by Queen Victoria, a number of displays, events and sporting activities were introduced as a way to increase visitor numbers. To coincide with the 1911 Festival of the Empire, the park was transformed with a railway being installed and buildings to represent the Empire which would remain there up until the 1940s.
However, on the 30th November 1936 The Crystal Palace was destroyed in a fire, after musicians waiting to play a concert noticed smoke coming from the floorboards, which reportedly began in the women’s cloakroom and spread to the central transept. The fire quickly spread through the dry wooden boards and the nature of The Crystal Palace – a huge open space with no fire breaks – meant that within a short time the fire was wildly out of control. The flames rose to 800 feet in the air with London sending 61 pumps and 381 firefighters to help tackle the fire. The cause of the fire was never discovered, but theories have included old and faulty wiring as well as a discarded cigarette falling between the floorboards.
It would’ve been amazing to have seen The Crystal Palace in all its stunning glory, as it looked simply magnificent. You can imagine had it been around today, it would’ve attracted the same number of tourists that landmarks such as The London Eye, The Shard, Buckingham Palace and more do. Something our Instagram feeds would be full of!
After the fire the park began a period of decline. There were plans talked about to recreate the palace, although these never materialised. During the Second World War the park became a place for military vehicle dismantling and later a site for bomb damage rubble.
When you enter Crystal Palace Park, one of the first sights you see is its renowned and spectacular National Sports Centre. Opened in 1964, the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre was designed by the LCC Architects Department under Sir Leslie Martin between 1953-1954 and is a Grade II listed building. Over the years the stadium has hosted football, cricket, rugby, basketball, American Football, and even Motor Racing. The main sport to be hosted there today is athletics with a capacity of 15,500, and 24,000 with temporary seating.
The site of the athletics stadium is on the same land as a football ground which hosted the FA Cup Final from 1895 to 1914. The owners of the ground wanted their own football club to play at their own venue, so this lead to the formation of Crystal Palace F.C. The South Londoners were forced to leave the stadium in 1915 by the military, and as a result played at the ground they play at today, Selhurst Park. The largest attendance for a domestic match there was between Aston Villa and Sunderland in the 1913 FA Cup Final, when 121,919 spectators went there.
A short walk down a hill from the National Sports Centre, you come to the picturesque lake area with beautiful trees and plants.
One of the most iconic features of the park are the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs which are a collection of over 30 statues created by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins (1807-1894) around 1854. The array of statues also includes the first ever attempt anywhere in the world to model dinosaurs as full-scale, three-dimensional active creatures.
The set also includes models of other prehistoric creatures, including plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs discovered by Mary Anning in Lyme Regis, and a South American Megatherium brought back to Britain by Charles Darwin on his voyage on HMS Beagle.
Known as the Dinosaur Court, the models represent 15 genera of extinct animals, not all dinosaurs. They are from a wide range of geological ages, and include dinosaurs, ichthyosaurs, and plesiosaurs mainly from the Mesozoic era, and some mammals from the more recent Cenozoic era.
The dinosaurs have been listed on the Historic Heritage List of England as Grade 1 monuments which is one of the highest and most important ratings. Many of the dinosaurs you see when you visit the National History Museum, the Oxford Museum of Natural History and other history museums in the UK are based on these specimens.
This was the first time I’d ever been to Crystal Palace Park and thus seen the dinosaurs, and they are incredible statues, and so critical to both the park’s identity as well as what they demonstrate for the world of natural history and science. One thing I’ve also thought is that it was very random having these in a London park, but knowing the story behind them makes sense!
Surrounded by the dinosaurs and as you weave your way around the park, there are some really lovely trees and woods, as well as a lake. Like with many of the parks I’ve explored across London, this one is full of splendour and tranquility.
I’ll now take a walk outside the lake area and walk across the park where once again you stroll through all the prettiness of the park which illustrates what a vast area of marvellous sights it is.
A distinctive part of the park you always see no matter where you stand and which can be seen from many vantage points in the capital is The Crystal Palace Transmitter tower which is a broadcasting and telecommunications station that serves Greater London and the Home Counties. Built in 1956, it’s the 5th tallest structure in London standing at 219 metres (719 ft). In terms of coverage it’s the most important transmitting station in the country, with nearly 12 million people receiving output from it.
I’ll now leave the park and head to my next destination today, Sydenham Wells Park! This cute little green area is named after the medicinal springs which were found in Sydenham in the 17th Century, when Sydenham was still in Kent. In 1901 the park was opened to the public and is one of nine parks in the borough to have a Green flag award, which is the benchmark national standard for publicly accessible parks and green spaces in the UK.
The park is right near many houses and you do get that community feel that this park is at the centre point of the area which is popular with families and people looking for a place to relax with their thoughts.
My journey will now take me from Sydenham Wells Park onto both Sydenham Hill Wood and Dulwich Wood, which are located right next to one another. Together they are the largest part of the old Great North Wood, which was an ancient landscape of woodland and wooded commons which once covered the high ground between Deptford and Selhurst
With both of the woods adjacent to one another, I first visited Sydenham Hill Wood which is designated as a Local Nature Reserve and Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation. In 1732 an oak-lined formal avenue, known as the Cox’s Walk, which leads from the junction of Dulwich Common and Lordship Lane was formed by Francis Cox. It connected his Green Man Tavern and Dulwich Wells with Sydenham Wells Park.
The old Nunhead to Crystal Palace railway once passed through the wood and you can tell where part of the line used to be, especially the footbridge which goes over the woods and used to have the tracks underneath it.
The woodland is home to more than 200 species of trees and plants, as well as rare fungi, butterflies, scarce bees, woodpeckers, wasps, stag beetles, other insects, hedgehogs, birds and woodland mammals.
Walking through the woodlands reminds me a lot of my walk through Highgate Wood as you feel like you’re nowhere near London’s hustle and bustle. It’s a very magical place to explore as with every corner of the woods you find something new which amazes and pleasantly surprises you, whether it’s a pretty species of tree, or a cute stairway, there’s an abundance of beauty.
Right next to Sydenham Hill Wood is Dulwich Wood, which is privately owned by the Dulwich Estate. Back in the Middle Ages, the Manor of Dulwich belonged to Bermondsey Abbey having been given to the Abbey in 1127 by King Henry I. The Dulwich Estate was surveyed in 1542 after Henry VII dissolved the monasteries. The wealthy Edward Alleyn in 1605 bought the Manor of Dulwich from the Calton family who had owned it since the dissolving of the monasteries.
Weaving your way between the trees and plants adds quite a bit of mystery when you walk through the woods, which is quite small, though there are many different pathways you could take, each taking you to a different woodland wonder.
Once you come out of Dulwich Wood, you’re able to get a glimpse of the London skyline, but to truly appreciate and see it, you need to take a stroll to the neighbouring Dulwich & Sydenham Hill Golf Club. A walk to the top of the balcony of the clubhouse provides a breathtaking panoramic view of London!
From across the golf course you get to see all the well-known and iconic London skyline landmarks including The Shard, The London Eye, Canary Wharf, The Walkie Talkie, The Gherkin, St Paul’s and more. One amazing aspect of my walks is that I’ve seen this exact same view of the London skyline from so many different perspectives, from Stave Hill, to Alexander Palace, to Hampstead Heath, and it’s always awe-inspiring and glorious. It really is a fitting and perfect place to end my walking adventure today!
Well that’s all from me on my walking adventure which has seen me discover some of the natural gems of South-East London from Crystal Palace Park, to Sydenham Wells Park and Sydenham Hill Wood, to Dulwich Wood, with the stunning London skyline view to finish with!
Thanks for joining me and in the meantime you can follow all my walks on Twitter and Instagram, and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too so you don’t miss a post! Also why not have a read of my other walks which explore all over London, from north to south, to west to east via central, there’s something there for you! 🙂 Here are the links to them all below for you!
Welcome one and all as I take another stroll across the capital! For my walk today I’ll be embracing the colours of Autumn as I explore Hammersmith & Fulham and Acton to really get into the spirit of the changing of the season. I’ll begin in Ravenscourt Park, go past Acton Green Common and Acton Park before ending my journey at Wormwood Scrubs. So grab the coat, scarf and walking boots!
I start my walk in Ravenscourt Park which is an 8.3 hectare (20.5 acre) public green area in the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham. Its origins date back to the medieval manor and estate of Palingswick (or Paddenswick) Manor which was first recorded on the site in the 12th century. The name still has significance to the area today with a Paddenswick Road near Ravenscourt Park.
Back in the 13th century the Manor House within Ravenscourt Park had a moat surrounded by it which today forms part of the lake that is within the park. Whilst in the 14th century the Manor was occupied by King Edward III’s mistress Alice Perrers.
In 1650 the Manor House was rebuilt and in 1747 renamed Ravenscourt after it was sold to Thomas Corbett with the name Ravenscourt probably deriving from the raven on his coat of arms.
Private owner George Scott who was a builder and philanthropist bought the Ravenscourt House in 1812 and a leading landscaper by the name of Humphry Repton helped to lay down the gardens in the estate. Park plans in 1830 indicated that there were 78 houses within the park which had risen to 330 by 1845. The Ravenscourt House was also the first public library in Hammersmith in 1889.
George Scott’s family sold the estate to a developer in 1887 with it being acquired by the Metropolitan Board of Works. A year later in 1888 a public park was laid out by J.J. Sexby with the management of the park transferring to the London County Council in 1889. In 1941 the building suffered severe damage during the Second World War. However, in 1965 the park was owned by the Greater London Council and finally the London Borough of Hammersmith in 1971.
The park’s café today is the old stables of the manor and is certainly one of the grandest café’s in London! The park also has a variety of facilities including football pitches, tennis & basketball courts and a playground.
Walking through the park you really get a sense that the season is changing with an array of beautiful colours, all of which look like a watercolour painting and many different shades of yellow, brown, red, orange and gold. When you look at the vast area of the park as well as the lake which used to be the Manor’s moat, you can get a feeling of how the grand estate would’ve looked. The lake is something to behold and matched with the trees colours, it makes for the perfect picture, or painting!
It’s now time to leave the tranquility of Ravenscourt Park to go in search of more pretty autumnal colours in my next stop Acton Green Common. Located next to Turnham Green tube station, the 5.9 hectare (14.5 acres) common is quite unique given that it’s split into two, with a road and crossing in between it.
The Acton Green Common has a place in history as part of the site of the Battle of Brentford during the Civil War when on the 12th November 1642 the Royalists under Prince Rupert surprised them and beat the Parliamentarian army under Lord Essex.
I do love the symmetry where you have trees either side of the pathway and as far as you can see there are trees across the green. Once again the crisp orange colouring comes out perfectly with the sun shining on them which really does brighten up the park. Also the lengthening shadows illustrates the sun is getting lower and winter is on its way.
I’m now going to make my way out of Acton Green Common and onto yet another lovely green space, Acton Park. One aspect you get when walking around Acton is that the trees aren’t just confined to the parks as they can be seen across the roads and houses!
Acton Park first opened to the public in 1888 as a commemoration to the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria and in 1945 the park’s allotments were converted into temporary houses for ex-servicemen.
In London we’re so lucky that nearly every area has some kind of green space where you can relax in the peace and quiet of a park setting. Also it’s not just the grass areas which I love, but the variety of trees are also so remarkable, big ones, tall ones, small ones, thin ones, the list is endless and all have their own distinct look and personality. You really don’t get this when you walk around some areas of central London, so you do have to go off track into the London boroughs to see all of natures glory.
It’s now time to leave Acton Park and move onto my final autumnal destination, the quite unique Wormwood Scrubs! Based in the North-Eastern corner of Hammersmith & Fulham, the area is the largest open space in the borough at 80 hectares (200 acres) and is one of the largest commons in London.
The park has been open to the public since 1879 and was even the home of Queens Park Rangers Football Club in the late 1888s.
Its history dates back to the early 19th century when the entire district of Hammersmith & Fulham was open fields with several areas of common land. In 1812 a 77 hectare (190 acre) area known as Wormholt Scrubs was leased by the War Office from the Manor of Fulham. The area was used to exercise cavalry horses which until then had used Hyde Park, Belgrave Square and Regent’s Park. In 1878, 55 hectares (135 acres) of the land became known as Wormwood Scrubs after being bought by the War Office.
In order to create metropolitan exercising ground for the military, in 1879 Parliament passed the Wormwood Scrubs Act. This act enabled the military to expel civilians from the area whenever they were training, but allowed civilians free use of it when they were not. The military were banned from building any permanent structures other than rifle butts on the open land.
The area gained the reputation of being one of the duelling grounds of London with several duels being fought there. The scrubland played a part in the 1908 Olympics with the marathon’s final stages going through it on the route from Windsor Castle to the Olympic Stadium in White City.
In 1910 Wormwood Scrubs gained a significant contribution in aviation history when pioneering airships took flight from an improvised landing ground. Four years later in 1914 all air related activities on the scrubs passed to the authority of the Admiralty with the area remaining an emergency landing ground until the 1930s. During the Second Wold War, the scrubs hosted the military department called The Chief Cable Censorship Department, an outstation of the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park.
Back in 1986 local birdwatcher Lester Holloway set up a campaign to save Scrubs Wood which was under threat from plans by British Rail to turn it into a cleaning depot. The campaign would succeed with an area of the nature reserve known as ‘Lester’s Embankment’ in 1987.
There has been many conservation efforts undertaken on the area with the park home to over 100 species of birds, 250 species of wildflowers, bats and lizards.
The entire area really is something to behold, as it’s a vast area of meadowland with hardly anything around it, there aren’t too many trees or houses, just scrubland and long grass. I have to say it’s one of the first times my walks have taken me to such a place and it’s eerily quiet when you’re stood in the middle of it as there’s literally no one walking through or by it. This is one of the reason why I love exploring London as you come across such weird and wonderful places like this which you’d not normally come across, or even know about.
Well that’s all from me today folks! I hope you enjoyed discovering some of West London’s best green areas which showcased the colours of autumn so amazingly well, which I’m sure you can agree are looking absolutely golden at the moment! I’ll be discovering more of beautful autumnal London next time!
In the meantime you can catch me on Twitter and Instagram and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too and have a read of my other walks, from river ones to park ones, there’s something there for you! 🙂
A warm welcome to you, and thanks for joining me on another walk around London! Throughout my walks of the capital I’ve explored many parks, and today I shall be exploring two of South London’s most wonderful natural spaces. My walk begins in Clapham Common takes me via Battersea Park before ending along the Thames at the splendid Albert Bridge.
I’ll admit I’d never actually been to either Clapham Common or Battersea Park before this walk, so for me it was even more exciting to do!
My journey starts in Clapham Common which dates back to the late 17th century when the recreational area was used for horse racing and cricket. It wasn’t until the 1760s when a wealthy local resident by the name of Christopher Baldwin led an initiative to improve the Common by leveling it off and filling in its ditches and planting trees.
During the 19th century the Common was managed by a group of local trustees who continued to level it out and plant trees. As late as the 1920s sheep were still grazing on the Common, though it was now becoming a well-known area of leisure for people within the suburb which was growing both in size and wealth.
However, in the 1860s Commons in London were at risk of being sold to developers as new legislation meant they could be purchased for the benefits of the public. In 1877, the Metropolitan Board of Works bought Clapham Common from its Manorial Owners with its aim to be ‘free and unenclosed forever’!
Both the board and its successor, the London County Council, continued to make improvements to it and in 1890 they responded to public demand to build one of the largest and best surviving Victorian bandstands in the country.
During the First World War troops would be trained in digging trenches on the Common. Whilst in the Second World War the site was used for big events and housed an anti-aircraft battery, with bomb shelters being dug within it.
Sports facilities and entertainments continued on the Common after the War with the London County Council and its successor, the Greater London Council, making improvements to it. The Common was the venue for the International London Horse Show from 1954 to 1985. However, by the 1990s local residents became unhappy with the large scale concerts and other events which they thought were unsuited and damaging the local recreational space. Since 1971, the Common has been owned and managed by the London Borough of Lambeth.
Today, it’s 220 acres of wonderful grass areas, the lovely Mount Pond, many football pitches, and is one of London’s most famous Commons. I did love standing by the pond, with all you can hear is the sound of the birds and the wind, truly the definition of peaceful!
Opposite the Bandstand you’ll find the very popular and convenient La Baita, which in Italian means ‘the hut’. This cafe serves authentic Italian cuisine with sandwiches and drinks offered too. The perfect way to sit there and enjoy the Common on a sunny day.
Outside Clapham Common you’ll find the pretty St. Barnabas Church which was erected in 1897.
It’s now time to continue my walk through Clapham Common and along the main road to Battersea Park.
Along my walk I go past Battersea Park train station, and this rather vintage railway bridge!
Back in 1843 property developer Thomas Cubitt and the local vicar, the Honourable Reverend Robert Eden, reported to Queen Victoria’s Commison on improving the Metropolis. In 1846 an Act of Parliament was passed which gave to the authorisation of a formation of a park on part of Battersea Common and Battersea Fields.
A year before in 1845 architect James Pennethorne produced a preliminary layout of the park, but it wasn’t until 1854 when the main developments of the park took place. The park was formally opened to the public by Queen Victoria in 1858.
Like with Clapham Common, the park was used during the First World War. Allotments were laid out in the park, an anti-aircraft station was set up on the croquet field, and a clothing depot was installed on one of the cricket fields. The park was also used during World War Two for an allotment, a piggery, an experimental radio station, and the running track became an anti-aircraft gun site. Today, the 200 acre park is managed by Wandsworth Council.
It’s not just Clapham Common that has a beautiful and picturesque pond, as Battersea Park has this amazing one too!
Every pond should have somewhere to enjoy its splendour, and next to it you can relax in this riverside cafe!
It’s only when you walk through the park that you find out how vast it is! Also the hidden gems within it keep appearing with more ponds and pathways filled with trees.
Near the northern side of the park sits the Festival Gardens that were designed by Russell Page. In 1951 they were transformed into the ‘Pleasure Gardens’ as part of the Festival of Britain which celebrated the British industry, arts and science to promote the feeling of recovery after the World War.
The event was intended to be a one-off year exhibition, but the fun fair remained there as a permanent attraction until it closed in 1974.
One of the eye-catching features within the park is this cool metal structure!
At the end of Festival Gardens you find the distinctive and rather amazing structure of the Peace Pagoda. Regular London Wlogger readers will remember another Pagoda appearing in Victoria Park in one of my previous walks!
The construction of the Peace Pagoda actually relates to the unlikely town of Milton Keynes in the UK. Back in 1978, the Reverend Gyoro Nagase arrived in England from Japan to assist with the construction of the first Peace Pagoda in the UK in Milton Keynes. Now you might think, it’s very random for a famous Japanese religious monument to be in Milton Keynes, but there is logic behind it! Back in the seventies when the new town of Milton Keynes was being developed, one of the planning advisers had visited Sri Lanka where he saw a Peace Pagoda. It was proposed to the Milton Keynes Development Corporation who loved the idea, and it remains there today.
In 1984, Reverend Gyoro Nagase moved to London to assist with 50 volunteers and Buddhist monks and nuns of the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Order to construct the Peace Pagoda in the park, and its amazing structure was completed in 1985.
To get to my final destination today I need to take a walk along the side of the Thames, and the view across it is simply stunning from the Peace Pagoda. You can tell I enjoyed taking videos on this walk!
A famous place for morning joggers and dog walkers, I walk along the side of the river to reach The Albert Bridge!
Located over the River Thames connecting Chelsea on the north bank to Battersea on the south bank, the Albert Bridge was designed and built by Rowland Mason Ordish in 1873. However, it proved to be structurally unsound, so between 1884 and 1887 Sir Joseph Bazalgette incorporated design elements of a suspension bridge to it.
Two concrete piers were added to it to further strengthen it in 1973, which means today the bridge is an odd hybrid of three different design styles! For six years after it was opened it became a toll bridge, though this was unsuccessful and the charge was lifted.
The bridge was given the nickname of ‘The Trembling Lady’ as it had the tenancy to vibrate when large numbers of people walked across it. The entrance sign to warn troops from the nearby Chelsea Barracks is still there today.
Today, there are still traffic control limits over it to prolong its life, making it the least busy of London’s bridges. The bold colouring of the bridge was painted on it in 1992 to make it more visible for ships, and I think you’d find it hard to miss it! At night the bridge is illuminated with 4,000 bulbs, and with Grade II listed status it’s one of the capital’s riverside icons.
The view from it you can imagine is amazing! On one side you can see the Chelsea Bridge, and on the other is Battersea Bridge.
I couldn’t think of many nicer places to end a walking adventure of London! I’ve taken a trip through South London to visit a famous Common, Park and Bridge, and seen how the first two played their part in both World Wars. Hope you had a great time reading my walk, and please share your thoughts below! Whilst I have you here, you can give me a follow on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too!
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.
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 from London Bridge
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.
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 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.
Entrance to London Bridge train station
View of the impressive new concourse
The new concourse
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.
Photo credit: Day Tours of London
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 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).
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.
On one side we see the Walkie Talkie (Sky Garden)
The other side is a view of Cannon Street station
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.
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.
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!
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