Day 56 – Elephant & Castle to Tate Modern

Does what it says on the tin this one, so it’s a long south to north and narrow east to west. So much so that I’ve had to divide the route map in two; starting off with this one which takes us from the Elephant & Castle as far as Mint Street Park which lies about halfway along Southwark Bridge Road.

Day 56 Route 1

Our journey north from the E & C begins along Newington Causeway then takes a right into Rockingham Street before continuing north up Tiverton Street as far as Newington Gardens. This small park sits on the site of the former Horsemonger Lane Gaol which closed in 1878. The poet and reformer, Leigh Hunt, had been one of the “guests” of the gaol, detained for writing disrespectfully of George IV. In 1849, Charles Dickens (of whom much more later), came here to witness a public execution and was so appalled he wrote to The Times in favour of their abolition.

Avonmouth Street takes us away from the park back to Newington Causeway where we turn back southward briefly before cutting sharply north again down Newington Court which runs alongside the railway arches.  On the way we pass the Institute of Optometry which started life in 1922 as the London Refraction Hospital – refraction in this context basically just meaning eye test – the world’s first specialist eye clinic. The current name was only adopted in 1988. On the other side of the road is the Southwark Playhouse which has been one of London’s leading studio theatres for the last 25 years.

Newington Court houses the entrance to the Ministry of Sound nightclub which took over the disused bus garage behind the arches back in 1991. One of the first of the so-called superclubs of the nineties and one of the few remaining, MoS still attracts around 300,000 clubbers a year to its three weekly sessions and has fought off several threats of closure due to the development of the surrounding area.

At the far end of the arches we emerge onto Borough Road and turn east. On our right we pass the home of the London School of Musical Theatre, a faux-Gothic style building dating from 1906. The LSMT moved here in 2000 having previously been at the Old Vic then Her Majesty’s Theatre. Like the MoS they have also had to ride out local redevelopment plans.

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At the junction of Borough Road and Newington Causeway is a sadly crumbling example of a classic 1960’s petrol station forecourt canopy….

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… right opposite the Inner London Crown Court located in the Sessions House opened in 1917.
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Crossing onto the north side of Borough Road we take Stone’s End Street up to Great Suffolk Street then turn west as far as Southwark Bridge Road where we dip back southward in order to check off Collinson Street and Scovell Road. We resume the northward trajectory from Great Suffolk Street up Sudrey Street which is blessed with one of the four rows of cottages in this area built around 1887 at the instigation of social reformer Octavia Hill (1838 – 1912). Octavia, who later went on to co-found the National Trust in 1895, arranged for the cottages to be built on land owned by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners following her appointment to manage their portfolio of inner city properties.

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At the end of Sudrey Street we turn right onto Lant Street then right again round Bittern Street. A 1904 warehouse on the corner here is now home to the Listening Books charity
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And round the next corner, heading north again on Touliman Street, stands the Charles Dickens primary school, appropriately bordered on one side by Pickwick Street.

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Next we turn back along Lant Street before taking the dog-leg Trundle Street round to Weller Street. Then a combination of Mint Street and Caleb Street drops us onto Marshalsea Road. An obvious further Dickens connection here though the debtors’ prison that held his father was actually sited on what is now Borough High Street. Circling round Mint Street Park we arrive at another Dickens’ reminder in the form of Quilp StreetQuilp being the vicious and stunted villain from The Old Curiosity Shop.

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Before we get to the second leg of today’s journey there’s a previously unvisited stretch of Southwark Bridge Road to go up and down. This includes the old Southwark Fire Station a Grade II listed Gothic Revival building of 1878 (further developed in 1911).

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And adjacent to the north, Winchester House, originally built as a workhouse in the late 18th century and later converted into a hat factory and private residences. At the same time as the fire station was being built next door this was acquired by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade to serve as its HQ, which it did up until the 1930’s. In 2018 planning approval was granted for a redevelopment to create a new secondary school that would incorporate both the Fire Station and Winchester House buildings.

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Stage 2 kicks off on the other side of the Borough Welsh Congregational Chapel where Doyce Street makes a short run into Great Guilford Street.

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Day 56 Route 2

Once on Great Guilford Street you’re greeted with this warning (nicely juxtaposed with the Anarchist symbol I thought) which is supposedly an Edwardian injunction against public urination.

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We follow Great Guildford Street down to Union Street which then takes us west as far as Pepper Street which runs back south to Copperfield Street (Dickens again of course). On the south side of the street are some more of Octavia Hill’s cottages, Winchester Cottages, with a pleasingly Dickensian aspect to them.

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And on the north side is All Hallows Church originally erected in 1879-80 in the Victorian Gothic style as interpreted by George Gilbert Scott Junior (1839 – 1897) but almost completely destroyed in the Blitz. Fragments of the building remain, including two stone archways and a chapel, all incorporated into a rebuilding of the north aisle of the church in 1957. This was closed in 1971. The remainder of the bombsite rubble was restored to create an award-winning walled garden with lawns, flower beds and shrubbery.

We take the next turn on the left as you go west which is Sawyer Street. This connects us with Loman Street on which we continue west back to Great Suffolk Street and are pleased to discover en route a Victorian warehouse yet to succumb to demolition or redevelopment. The warehouse is a grade II listed building and dates from the 1850s or 1860s. It has had many occupants over the decades, including Spicer Bros paper merchants in the late 19th century and more recently a group of squatters.

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From here we loop back to Union Street via the western section of Copperfield Street and Risborough Street. Heading back east we stop off briefly at the Jerwood Space. The Jerwood which opened in 1998 was the first major capital project of the Jerwood Foundation. The Jerwood Foundation was established in 1977 for the international businessman and philanthropist John Jerwood (1918 – 1991). Jerwood moved to Japan after the Second World War and established what became one of the largest cultured pearl dealerships in the world. The Jerwood is an important dance and theatre rehearsal space and includes a gallery which hosts the prestigious annual Jerwood drawing prize. It also has a pretty good café.
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At the eastern end of Union Street we rejoin Great Guildford Street and resume our northward trajectory. Before reaching Southwark Street we call in on America Street and Wardens Grove. The latter runs along the side of the Metal Box Factory which is a development of office and studio spaces in the building where the tins for Peek Freans biscuits were once made (and was nothing to do with the Metal Box Company as I originally assumed).

From Southwark Street, going west, we branch off down Lavington Street then take a left into Ewer Street which starts out running southward then turns west alongside the railway. The final arch before you get back onto Great Suffolk Street is the current home of The Ring boxing club which as we noted in the last post started life in a twelve-sided  former chapel of prayer that stood on the site now occupied by Southwark tube station.

We continue to the west on another stretch of Union Street then make a circuit of Nelson Square before going north on Gambe Street. Scoresby Street takes us west again onto Blackfriars Road from where we switch back east via Dolben Street, Brinton Walk, Nicholson Street and Chancel Street. At the end of all this we arrive at no.45 Dolben Street which hosts a blue plaque marking this as the site of one of the London homes of Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 – 1797). Wollstonecraft is best known for the proto-feminist treatise A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) but she was author of many other works including a history of the French Revolution. She was born in Spitalfields but led a peripatetic life before returning to London in 1788 to reside here in Southwark. Her other claim to fame is of course as the mother of Mary Godwin, the creator of Frankenstein. It was a fame she was destined never to experience herself as she died of septicaemia just ten days after giving birth to the future wife of the romantic poet, Percy Bysse Shelley.

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From Dolben Street we take a left into Bear Lane then cut through Treveris Street back to Chancel Street which is where the Philarmonia Orchestra are based. The Philharmonia was founded in 1945 by EMI producer Walter Legge but has been self governing since 1964. Finnish conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen has been Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor of the Orchestra, which has 80 player-members, since 2008.

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At the northern end of Chancel Street we initially turn left onto Burrell Street but then double-back under the railway.  At the end of Burrell Street we turn back onto Bear Lane and after a few paces southward switch east down Price’s Street which runs along the rear side of the Kirkaldy Testing Museum. David Kirkaldy (1820 – 1897) set up the Testing Works at 99 Southwark Street in 1874 to house the hydraulic tensile test machine which he had patented ten years earlier and had built at his own expense by the Leeds firm of Greenwood & Batley. The machine is 47 feet 7 inches (14.50 m) long and weighs some 116 tons and could theoretically test the strength of metal parts up to 450 tons in weight. The museum, which was established in 1983, is only open on the first Sunday of each month. The building (including the machine) has a Grade II listing.

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The eastern end of Price’s Street emerges onto yet another section of Great Suffolk Street. Turning south we call in on Farnham Place before revisiting Lavington Street which deposits us back on Southwark Street. As we head all the way back to Blackfriars Road we pass the Blue Fin building, completed in 2008 and so-named because its façade incorporates 2,000 vertical fins of varying blue colours to provide solar shading for the offices inside. It has been included in a Daily Telegraph list of London’s ugliest buildings but then that’s the Telegraph for you. I have visited the roof terrace in the past but it’s not generally accessible to the public. In any event its views have been largely rendered redundant by the Tate Modern extension (see below).

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Once on Blackfriars Road we head down to the river and along the Thames Path under Blackfriars Railway Bridge before leaving the riverside to take Hopton Street back to Southwark Street.

Hopton Street is home on its west side to what is genuinely one of London’s ugliest buildings. Sampson House was built in the late Seventies as a processing centre for Lloyds Bank but is currently leased to IBM who use it as a data centre. That lease (rent of £8m a year) has a mutual break clause exercisable in June 2018 and as a result its (no doubt slow) deconstruction to pave the way for new apartment blocks has already begun. Whether those blocks will be less of a blight on the skyline remains to be seen (though Sampson House does actually look quite fetching in this photo).

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By way of complete contrast, on the other side of Hopton Street are a collection of Grade II listed almshouses built in the 1740’s as homes for poor men of Southwark of good character.

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So for the final stretch of today’s tour we head back east on Southwark Street then negotiate Sumner Street and Holland Street to takes us to the entrance to Tate Modern. As pretty much everyone knows, Tate Modern was created out of a redevelopment of the Bankside Power Station which was built here across the river from St Paul’s Cathedral in two phases between 1947 and 1963. The power station was designed by, our old friend, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and consisted of a stunning turbine hall, 35 metres high and 152 metres long, with the boiler house alongside it and a single central chimney. However by 1981 the facility was no longer in service apart from a single London Electricity sub-station and in 1994 the Tate trustees selected this as their preferred site for a separate new gallery focusing on modern and contemporary art. Swiss architects, Herzog and De Meuron were appointed to oversee the conversion of the building.

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Since it opened in May 2000 Tate Modern has become one of the UK’s top three tourist attractions and welcomed more than 40 million visitors. That electricity substation (now under the control of EDF Energy) continued to occupy the southern third of the building but the western half of this holding was released to the Tate in 2006 and plans were put in place to build a tower extension over the old oil storage tanks. The ten-storey 65m high Switch Tower was opened to the public in June 2016.  The design, again by Herzog & de Meuron, has been controversial. It was originally designed with a glass stepped pyramid, but this was amended to incorporate a sloping façade in brick latticework (to match the original power-station building) despite planning consent to the original design having been previously granted by the supervising authority. In May 2017 the Switch House was formally renamed the Blavatnik Building, after Anglo-Ukrainian billionaire Sir Leonard Blavatnik, in recognition of his “substantial contribution” towards the £260m cost of the extension.

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For once the timing of my visit was fortuitous as the museum is currently playing host to one of my favourite ever things, Christian Marclay’s epic work The Clock.  24-hours long, the installation is a montage of thousands of film and television images of clocks, edited together so they show the actual time. During several years of rigorous and painstaking research and production, Marclay collected together excerpts from well-known and lesser-known films including thrillers, westerns and science fiction which he then edited so that they flow in real time. If you’ve never seen any of it I would urge you to do so; you have until 20 January 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 54 – South Bank – Waterloo Bridge – Blackfriars Bridge – Stamford Street

Today’s perambulations are mainly about the riverfronts either side of the Thames between Waterloo Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge with a particular focus on the South Bank though, as you can see, we do venture a bit further south of the river in the latter stages. It’s an area I’m mostly more than familiar with as, when I could be arsed to walk, I passed through here on my way from Waterloo to an office near St Pauls for many years.

Day 54 Route

Before we kick off however here’s a bit of bonus material relating to the previous post in which we featured the London Eye. As coincidence would have it, just a couple of weeks after that walk I found myself actually aboard the Eye (for the first time in many years)courtesy of a family visit – and here are the pics from on high.

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Right, back to the business in hand. We start out this time from Waterloo Station once again and having crossed York Road make our way along Concert Hall Approach towards the Royal Festival Hall. The RFH was built in 1951 as part of that year’s Festival of Britain. As London’s new main concert hall it would be the only permanent structure amongst the temporary pavilions and constructions on the Festival’s south bank site. The architects were Sir Robert Matthew and Dr Leslie Martin and the hall took 18 months to build at a cost of £2 million. Initially it was run by the LCC and then its successor the GLC but on the demise of the latter in 1986 responsibility was devolved to the Arts Council. Two years later the building was granted Grade 1 listed status.

Following a public appeal for assistance with the recovery of lost artworks, Peter Laszlo Peri’s Sunbathers sculpture, which was originally installed outside Waterloo underground station during the Festival, was retrieved from the garden of the Clarendon Hotel in Blackheath, restored and re-hung in the foyer of the RFH. That was in 2017 and it was originally only intended to stay there for one summer – but, as you can see, it’s still in situ. The bust of Nelson Mandela outside the western entrance to the hall was commissioned by Ken Livingstone’s GLC, sculpted by Ian Walters and initially unveiled in 1985 by the then ANC leader Oliver Tambo. Unfortunately, following what was described at the time as “politically-motivated vandalism” the sculpture had to be re-cast and was re-installed in 1988.

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The “brutalist” Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room were added to the South Bank site in 1967 adjacent to the RFH. These smaller venues were designed to play host to chamber orchestras and other smaller musical ensembles. Then in 1968 the Hayward Gallery, named after the late Sir Isaac Hayward, the then leader of the London County Council, was opened. The gallery’s first exhibition was a major retrospective of the paintings of Henri Matisse. All three venues were re-opened in 2018 after a two year refurbishment programme. The slideshow below includes shots of the Lee Bul exhibition that was showing at the Hayward when this walk took place.

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The area beneath the concrete walkway joining the RFH with the QE Hall (known as the Undercroft) has, for decades now, been used as a semi-officially sanctioned skateboard and BMX park. After fending off the latest threat to close and redevelop the site the users of the Undercroft have recently won a £700,000 grant from City Hall to enable the park to be extended and improved.

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From the Hayward Gallery we ascend the steps up on to Waterloo Bridge. The current bridge, built to a design of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (the creator of the red telephone box if you remember), was “officially opened” in 1942. Not great timing as you can imagine and somewhat ironically this was the only bridge across the Thames to suffer damage from the German bombing campaign. As a consequence it was only fully completed in 1945. The bridge is sometimes referred to colloquially as the Ladies Bridge due to the fact that when the Irish labourers who had been working on its construction went back to Ireland at the outbreak of WW2 they were largely replaced by women.

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Having crossed the bridge we head east along the Victoria Embankment towards Blackfriars Bridge. In the previous post we noted that the benches on the Albert Embankment use a swan motif in their metalwork supports while their counterparts on the Victoria Embankment incorporate camels and sphinxes into their design. And here’s the evidence.

About half way along this stretch of the Embankment is HQS (formerly HMS) Wellington which acts as the Livery Hall for the Honourable Company of Master Mariners (Merchant Seamen in other words). The vessel is open for boarding at the moment due to an ongoing exhibition on the role of mercantile shipping in WW1; which was fortunate because as soon as I’d got below decks the heavens opened. HMS Wellington is the last surviving convoy escort ship from the Second World War. She was built at Devonport Dockyard in 1934 and initially served in the Pacific mainly on station in New Zealand and China. When war broke out she was fitted with anti-aircraft guns and loaded with depth charges for use against submarines and went on to conduct convoy escort duties in the North Atlantic. She shared in the destruction of one enemy U boat and was involved in Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk. The Master Mariners, who had been given their Royal Charter in 1926, acquired the Wellington in 1947.

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A short way further on is the monument erected in 1935 to celebrate King George V’s silver jubilee which I suspect most people walk past without giving a second glance. Much like…

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And so on to Blackfriars Bridge which in its present incarnation was opened in November 1869 by Queen Victoria (hence the statue). It was built to a design of Joseph Cubitt and is comprised of five wrought iron arches. On the piers of the bridge are stone carvings of water birds by sculptor John Birnie Philip and the ends of the bridge are shaped like a pulpit in a reference to Black Friars.It is owned and maintained by the Bridge House Estates, a charitable trust overseen by the City of London Corporation. Blackfriars Bridge became internationally notorious in June 1982, when the body of Roberto Calvi, a former chairman of Italy’s largest private bank, was found hanging from one of its arches with five bricks and around $14,000 in three different currencies in his pockets. Calvi’s death was initially treated as suicide, but he was on the run from Italy accused of embezzlement and in 2002 forensic experts concluded that he had been murdered by the Mafia, to whom he was indebted.

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As you walk south across the bridge the view is dominated by No.1 Blackfriars a 52 storey tower comprising 274 private flats that was completed in 2018. The site was formerly occupied by the headquarters of Sainsbury’s but had lain empty at least throughout all those years I walked past it. Then no sooner had I retired than construction started.

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Having reached the southern end of the bridge we turn right past the Doggett’s Coat and Badge pub. Named after the world’s oldest rowing race, contested between apprentice Thames watermen since 1715, Doggett’s is one of only a handful of riverside hostelries in central London and, as such, does very well for itself.

We proceed along the river passing in front of Sea Containers House and the Oxo Tower. The latter was originally constructed as a power station to supply electricity to the Royal Mail post office towards the end of the 19th century. In the 1920’s it was acquired by the Liebig Extract of Meat Company, manufacturers of Oxo cubes, for conversion into a cold store. The building was largely rebuilt to an Art Deco design by company architect Albert Moore between 1928 and 1929. Much of the original power station was demolished, but the river facing facade was retained and extended. Liebig wanted to include a tower featuring illuminated signs advertising the name of their product. When permission for the advertisements was refused, the tower was built with four sets of three vertically-aligned windows, which “coincidentally” happened to be in the sequential shapes of a circle, a cross and another circle.

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Continuing west we pass by Bernie Spain Gardens (named after Bernadette Spain, a local housing campaigner in the 1980’s), Gabriel’s Wharf and the rear of the IBM and ITV HQ buildings before arriving at the National Theatre. After many years of debate and lobbying the NT was founded in 1963 and was based at the Old Vic until its new purpose-built home was opened in 1976. This latest addition to the South Bank’s modernist skyline, designed by architects Sir Denys Lasdun and Peter Softley and structural engineers Flint & Neill, divided opinion; Sir John Betjeman was an unlikely fan but, less surprisingly, Prince Charles referred to it as “a clever way of building a nuclear power station in the middle of London without anyone objecting”.  That was in 1988, the year that Sir Peter Hall relinquished the post of Artistic Director having succeeded Sir Laurence Olivier in that role in 1973. The building houses three separate theatre spaces, the Olivier Theatre, the Lyttleton Theatre and the Dorfman Theatre (formerly the Cottesloe). It’s been Grade II listed since 1994 and regularly appears simultaneously on publicly-surveyed lists of London most-loved and most-hated buildings.

The sculpture above is London Pride by Frank Dobson (1886 – 1963). This was originally exhibited in plaster cast form at the Festival of Britain but after Dobson’s death was re-cast in bronze and in 1987 donated by his wife Mary to be exhibited in front of the National Theatre. Just to the west of this is the statue of Laurence Olivier (as Hamlet) that was unveiled in 2007.

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Adjacent to the NT and effectively right underneath Waterloo Bridge is the BFI Southbank (previously known as the National Film Theatre – its cinemas are still called NFT1, 2 & 3). The BFI (British Film Institute) was founded in 1933 and operates as a charity under Royal Charter. The BFI maintains the world’s largest film archive, containing more than 50,000 fiction films, over 100,000 non-fiction titles, and around 625,000 television programmes. In addition to the Southbank site it also runs the nearby London IMAX and the annual London Film Festival each October. The National Film Theatre was initially opened in a temporary building (the Telekinema) at the Festival of Britain and moved to this present location in 1957. In addition to the main three cinemas the building also incorporates the BFI Reuben Library and the Mediatheque which are both free to access. The upper level includes a gallery space which is currently displaying exhibits tying in with the ongoing Working Class Heroes season.

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Turning away from the river up past the BFI we arrive at Upper Ground and head back eastward passing, in sequence, the home of the Rambert Ballet Company, the front entrance of the IBM HQ and the ITV London Studios and Tower. The latter were constructed in the early 1970’s, when independent television was still provided by a plethora of separate regional operators, as a new studio complex for London Weekend Television (LWT).  It was originally called The South Bank Television Centre (a name that lasted until the early 1990s) and at the time was the most advanced television centre in Europe. LWT was acquired by Granada in 1994 and a decade later Granada was merged into Carlton Communications to form ITV plc. As well as being the main studios for ITV’s entertainment shows the complex has also been used by the BBC and Channel 4 as well as several independent production companies.  Good Morning Britain, The Graham Norton Show, Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and The Jonathan Ross Show are amongst the shows it has to bear some of the responsibility for. In April 2018 ITV closed the site for 5 years of large-scale redevelopment that will result in the loss of most of the studios space.

Doubling back a bit we head south next down Cornwall Road then turn right to take a trip up and down Doon Street which runs along the back of the Franklin-Wilkins building (named after Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin two of the pioneers who contributed to the discovery of the structure of DNA). This is now part of King’s College’s Waterloo Campus but it was built between 1912 and 1915 as a reinforced-concrete headquarters, known as Cornwall House, for Her Majesty’s Stationary Office. However before HMSO could move in the building was requisitioned for use as a military hospital during WW1. As the King George Military Hospital it accommodated, at its height, some 1800 patients on 63 wards.  Cornwall House had been built with underground tunnels connecting it to Waterloo Station and these tunnels were used by the hospital to transfer wounded soldiers arriving by train from the Front.

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At the junction with Stamford Street we turn left and then take another left up Coin Street back to Upper Ground. Resuming eastward we stop for lunch at the slightly insalubrious but generously-priced House of Crepes at the top of the Gabriel’s Wharf marketplace of “independent eateries and boutiques”.  The actual Gabriel’s Wharf building (in the background below) was formerly used as a scenery store by ITV.

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We return to Stamford Street via Duchy Street and then take the next left turning, Broadwall, back to Upper Ground. We continue east as far as Bargehouse Street which loops round the back of the actual Bargehouse, a 4-storey former factory building, which is now an exhibition and event space forming part of the OXO Tower Wharf development.

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After a quick look at the northern section of Hatfields we end up back by the river courtesy of another stretch of Upper Ground and Marigold Alley. Turning right we revisit the steps up to Doggett’s and then it’s a few paces along Blackfriars Road before the final bit of Upper Ground and Rennie Street return us to Stamford Street. We switch westward briefly before turning south down Paris Gardens and then cutting east through the churchyard of Christ Church Southwark. The first church on this site was built in 1670 bit that sank into the Lambeth Marshes after about seventy years and had to be demolished. Its replacement lasted a bit longer but failed to survive the 1941 bombing. The current building dates from 1959 and has an interesting (and secular) selection of stained glass windows depicting local trades and history.

On the other side of the church we revisit Blackfriars Road and drop south as far as Meymott Street where we take a westerly turn and look in on Colombo Street before using the longer stretch of Hatfields to return to Stamford Street. This building on Meymott Street always caught my eye on those journeys to work on account of its modest art deco stylings but I’ve been unable to find anything out about its history or current situation. Incidentally, Hatfields derives its name from the fact that this area was once used for drying animal skins that were made into hats.

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Just around the corner as we turn left onto Stamford Street is the London Nautical School, founded in 1915 as a consequence of the official report into the loss of the Titanic (according to their website though it doesn’t elaborate). Let’s assume it was something to do with the creation of the “nautical ethos” which they still promote to this day.

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Another section of Duchy Street is the next turning to the south and this is then linked to the southern section of Coin Street by Aquinas Street. The north side of Aquinas Street consists of a very nice three storey Victorian terrace. If you fancied living here though even a one bedroom flat is listed at more than £550k.

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After a final visit to Stamford Street we take the southern section of Cornwall Street down to Theed Street where we make an eastward circuit also involving Whittlesey StreetThen a further block south down Cornwall Street we turn east again along Roupell Street home to today’s pub of the day, the Kings Arms. After a quick pint of cider we carry on down to the end of Roupell Street then double back and cut through Windmill Walk by the side of the pub to reach Brad Street. Turn west here and we’re back to Cornwall Street and duck left through the railway arch to Sandell Street. This is the first of a series of streets that cross between Cornwall Street and Waterloo Road, the others being Alaska Street, Exton Street and Secker Street. The last two of these combine to circle round St John’s Church. The church was originally built to the designs of the architect Francis Octavius Bedford in 1824. It was struck by a bomb in 1940, when the roof and much of the interior was destroyed. The building stood open for ten years until it was restored and remodelled internally by Thomas Ford in 1950. In 1951 the Church was rededicated as the Festival of Britain Church. The interior isn’t much to write home about but the church is imbued with a very strong community spirit and has an extremely cosmopolitan congregation. It’s also home to the Southbank Sinfonia an orchestra formed anew each year through the 33 annual fellowships granted by its charitable foundation. The orchestra performs a series of Free Rush Hour (6pm – 7pm) concerts at St John’s throughout the year and I can testify as to the excellence of these.

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Just across from the church in the roundabout at the nexus of Waterloo Road, Stamford Street, Waterloo Bridge and York Road stands the BFI IMAX (as mentioned earlier).  Built in 1999, this houses the largest cinema screen in Britain (20m high and 26m wide). It has a seating capacity of just under 500 and a 12,000 Watt digital surround sound system. Since 2012 Odeon Cinemas have operated the IMAX under licence.

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It just remains to cross over at these lights to Tenison Way and from there take the escalator up to Waterloo Station and that’s one more out of the way.