SE1: All the World’s a Stage

SE1 is Waterloo, London Bridge, Bankside and Borough. There is so much here and like so many of the central postcodes I can only offer a small selection. I am going to focus on the part I know best – the bit west from London Bridge to Bankside, as this is where I worked for 8 years.

We start our walk at London Bridge Post Office, which is at 19a Borough High Street, just by the big railway bridge. Turn right out of the Post Office and then take the first right which is called London Bridge Street. Our first stop is up ahead.

Stop 1: London Bridge Station

This station is currently being completely rebuilt and so is in a state of flux. When it is finished in 2018, it will be very smart and modern, as can be seen from what has been done so far. Go in the station and work your way down to the lower level.

 

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Hard to see now but this is one of the most historic railway sites in London. This was the terminus of the first passenger railway in central London – opened by the London and Greenwich Railway in December 1836. The story of this station is hugely complex but here is a bit of the tale.

Prior to completion, the London and Greenwich Railway had entered into an agreement with the proposed London and Croydon Railway. This allowed the Croydon company to use the Greenwich tracks from Bermondsey, and to share its terminal station. The Greenwich railway could not afford to build a sufficiently large station for the traffic for both companies because it had underestimated the cost of building the viaducts which carried most of its line. So in July 1836 it sold some land adjacent to its station site to the Croydon railway to build their own independent station. This was inconveniently on the north side of the Greenwich station which meant the two companies’ trains had to cross each other.

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Parliament decided that the London and Greenwich route should be the entry point for services serving south east England and so two more companies started to use the station and approach tracks – the London and Brighton Railway in 1841 and the South Eastern Railway (running to Dover via Redhill and Tonbridge) in 1842.

With all this traffic the two tracks into the station were inadequate and so in the early 1840s the line was widened to four tracks. It was at this point the London and Greenwich swapped its station with the London and Croydon and so the conflict down the line was solved.

The Croydon and Brighton companies merged to form the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway in 1846 and the South Eastern took over the London and Greenwich Railway in 1847. And these two companies ran their stations side by side but independently.

In 1864 the South Eastern extended their line to Charing Cross and a couple of years later to Cannon Street. The two halves of the station stayed separate until the creation of the Southern Railway in 1923.

London Bridge was badly damaged in 1940/1941. It was patched up and then there was a comprehensive redevelopment in the 1970s. But the two distinct stations could still be discerned. It was only finally with the Thameslink upgrade project that there was finally a chance to do a proper rebuild of the station.

The station is being rebuilt from one with 6 through platforms and 9 terminating ones to one with 9 through platforms and 6 terminating ones. And as part of this a new viaduct has been built over Borough Market to provide extra tracks to the west and to the east the tracks are being reordered so the Thameslink trains can reach the Brighton line without having to cross Kent trains on the level.

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One of the features is the opening out of the brick arches underneath the station. This was started with the opening of the Jubilee line extension here and the consequent rebuilding of the underground station in the late 1990s.

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But now an even bigger area has been created for the national rail station for a street level concourse linked to all the platforms by escalators. It is impressive now and it is only half open.

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At last London Bridge is getting the station it deserves

Now from this new concourse, go out into St Thomas’s Street and turn right. Our next stop is across the road on the left.

Stop 2: Guy’s Hospital

This is a surprising sight – a lovely courtyard. This was built in stages through the 18th century for Guy’s Hospital.

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To the right is a Chapel. Do go in if it is open.

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This dates from the 1770s and architectural commentator Pevsner describes it as “a unique survival”.

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Now look at the back wall and you will see this statue.

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This is the guy himself. Strange to think there was a man called Guy – Thomas Guy actually, and he founded the hospital.

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What I had not appreciated was that Thomas Guy set up his hospital opposite St Thomas’ Hospital to relieve overcrowding of the latter. St Thomas’ can trace its origins back to the 12th century and only Barts can claim an older heritage.

But when the South Eastern Railway extended their lines westwards, this was very disruptive and St Thomas’ moved in the late 1860s to its present site by Westminster Bridge. However since 1993 the two hospitals have come under the same NHS trust

There is one other things to spot here. Look just to the left of the Guy statue at this brass plaque.

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This commemorates four times Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone’s connection with the hospital. Despite his other responsibilities he seems to have found time to be a Governor of the Hospital for 63 years – presumably this did not entail much.

Now head out of the Chapel and go though the main archway. This leads to a colonnade with an enclosed courtyard either side.

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On the left is an odd stone shelter with the statue of a man sitting inside.

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The stone structure is an alcove which came from the 18th century London Bridge which was removed when the bridge was widened in the early 1900s. And the person is the poet John Keats (1795 -1821) – he was a student at Guy’s in 1815/1816.

If you keep going you reach a peaceful open space. Or at least it is peaceful when there are no medical students are around.

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Now retrace you steps back to St Thomas’s Street, not forgetting to look up to your right, where you will see the Shard towering about the Guy’s Hospital Tower, which looks so clunky (and short) against the Shard. The 34 floor Guy’s Tower was apparently the tallest hospital building in the world from when it was built in 1974 until it was overtaken in 2010 by one in Houston, Texas.

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Turn left into St Thomas’s Street and you will pass a couple of things of interest on your way to the next stop. On the left is a blue plaque, to John Keats and his friend Henry Stephens who lodged here whilst studying.

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We have come across these two before – Keats when in Lower Edmonton, N9 where he lived before becoming a student here and Henry Stephens when in N3 – he is the ink man.

Then on your right is a church like looking building which now houses the Old Operating theatre Museum and Herb Garret,

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This is a museum of surgical history and is one of the oldest surviving operating theatres, dating from 1822. It is housed in what was once the attic (or garret) of St Thomas’s Church. This it seems was part of the original site of St Thomas’ Hospital. The garret was created when the church was rebuilt in the late 18th century. It was described as “the herb garret” in 1821 and it seems likely this was because it was used by the apothecary of St Thomas’ hospital to store medicinal herbs.

At the end of St Thomas’s Street turn left. Our next stop is across the road.

Stop 3: Borough Market

Borough Market claims to go back to the 11th century but it has been on this site since around the middle of the 18th century. The main market building are mid 19th century although there is this 1932 entrance which Pevsner describes as “mediocre”.

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Although today the market is largely a retail one, for most of the 20th century it was really a wholesale market like Covent Garden. One of the things which allowed it to reinvent itself as today’s go to place for food was the fact that the Market is not controlled by central or local Government body but a board of trustees drawn from the locality. This meant it could adopt a policy of allowing only food related businesses and could prevent chains from invading. Thus it has a unique atmosphere, whereas Covent Garden and now Spitalfields have lost much of their special charm. There are one or two non food shops on the fringes but I believe these are in buildings not controlled by Borough Market Trustees.

Keep walking along Borough High Street. Our next stop is on the left.

Stop 4: The George Inn

The George is in a courtyard and the remaining part of a galleried coaching inn. The buildings on the right date from the late 17th century – the Inn had to be rebuilt after the Great Fire of Southwark in 1676. A large chunk of it was lost in the 1880s when the then owners, the Great Northern Railway, demolished the central and northern wings .

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Nevertheless what is left is lovely and one can see how the theatres of Shakespeare’s time evolved from this. This pub is actually owned by the National Trust but is leased out and operates as a normal pub. Do go in for a drink!

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Now return to Borough high Street and turn left. You will note there are various alleys and courtyards off the main road which would have housed other inns, including the Tabard. The Tabard is mentioned in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales which are the stories of a group of pilgrims as they travel to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. This is a contest and the prize is a free meal at the Tabard Inn at Southwark on their return. The old Inn was lost in the Great Fire and its successor demolished in the 1870s.

Ahead you will see St George;s Church, borough ahead. Sadly we do not have time to venture down there, as we will be taking the first street on the right, Union Street.

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Having turned into Union Street, continue down here. Just before a crossroads you will discover a little open space on your right. This is our next stop.

Stop 5: Crossbones Garden

This piece of land was once a burial ground – thought to be for those who could not be buried in consecrated ground, such as the local prostitutes. It was closed in 1853 and eventually the site was built over. Then when the Jubilee line extension was built in the 1990s, the site was used in part for an electricity sub station. As a result excavations took place and almost 150 graves form the first part of the 19th century were discovered.

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Transport for London still own the site and its future is unclear. A local volunteer group, Friends of Cross Bones, is campaigning for a permanent memorial gardens. But in the meantime, the garden is open between 12 noon and 2pm Monday to Friday and a vigil is held on the 23rd of every month to honour the outcast, dead and alive.

More about Crossbones Gardens at: http://crossbones.org.uk/

Now as you turn to leave, you can appreciate better the wooden shelter which has been consructed over the entrance way.

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And just on the left as you leave do have a look at this great sculpture.

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The figure on the left represents the Bishop of Winchester under whose jurisdiction this area fell for many hundreds of years. He is in fact a kind of a gargoyle and when it rains the water from the roof above flows through his mouth and on to the other part of the sculpture, which is a bird. In fact it is a goose, symbolic of the local prostitutes who plied their trade around here and who were known as Winchester Geese. They were able to work here as it was outside the City of London and indeed the Bishop of Winchester at one point actually licensed them.

There is one bit of the space which is best seen from the other side of the boundary. So go out of the garden and turn right and then right again, into Redcross Way. you will see various City buildings poking their heads up over the railway.

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On the right you will see a gateway festooned with ribbons.

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And look though the gate.

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Continue along Redcross Way towards the railway bridge. At the bridge Southwark Street crosses. Take a left here and our next stop is just ahead on the left.

Stop 6: Menier Chocolate Factory

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This was built as the British outpost of a French chocolate company between 1865 and 1874.

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By the 1980s, the building had become disused. But it was reborn in 2004 when it reopened as a small studio theatre, an art gallery and a restaurant.

Today it runs an eclectic programme of plays and musicals, and it has had a number of successes in getting its productions transferred – most recently its revival of the musical Funny girl with Sheridan Smith.

Now return along Southwark Street and turn left just before the railway bridge.

Stop 7: Cromwell Buildings

Our next stop is soon on the left.

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This is Cromwell Buildings, an early social housing development dating from 1864. It was put up by the Improved Industrial Dwellings Company, founded by Sir Sydney Waterlow whose statue we saw in Highgate

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Keep straight on and follow the road round to your left

Stop 8: Site of the Anchor Brewery

The site ahead and to your left is a surprisingly low scale housing development, dating from the 1980s.. There are a few little plaques along the way. First at the corner of Maiden Lane is one which commemorates a roman connection

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Then as you go along Park Street and find one which celebrates an obscure “international incident”.

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And finally as we follow the development round to the left

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Here we get the story of what was actually on this site – it was the Anchor Brewery. Note the name Thrale. For much of the 18th century, the brewery was in the hands of two members of the family Ralph, then his son, Thomas. It was Thomas and his wife Hester who were great friends with Samuel Johnson, as we heard when we were in SW16.

On Thomas’ death in 1781, the brewery was sold to Barclay Perkins and Co who operated it until 1955 when they were bought out by Courage. Brewing finally ceased here in 1982.

If you carry on walking down Park Street, have a look back and you get a nice view of the Shard.

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Our next stop is a little further along Park Street, on your left just before the overbridge.

Stop 9: Site of Globe and Rose Theatres

You will see a relief plaque commemorating the site of the original Globe theatre.

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And behind this is a little viewing platform up some steps.

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This was the site of the original Globe theatre which was built in 1599 by Shakespeare’s playing company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. It burnt down in June 1613. A new theatre was up and running within a year and that carried on until it was closed down by the puritans in 1642.

The site was built over and today much is below a listed terrace from the 18th century but a fragment was uncovered in the 1980s when the area was being redeveloped.

But this is not the only place where there are remains of a Shakespearean theatre.

Go under the bridge and there is a doorway on the right. This leads to the remains of the Rose Theatre.

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This predates the Globe and was the first theatre here. It was discovered when the office building on the site was demolished. There was such an outcry when it was discovered that the Rose Theatre was here and would be destroyed. So the solution was to build the new building over the remains. And there is a Trust looking after the remains – more info here: http://www.roseplayhouse.org.uk/

According to their website, around two thirds of the original foundations have been excavated and protected for future generations to experience. The Rose Theatre Trust is now engaged in raising funds to excavate the remaining third and to make the site a permanent display as an educational and historical resource for the public to learn from and enjoy.

In the meantime you can visit (on Saturdays only I believe) and there are also theatrical productions you can see there.

Now keep walking and turn right down New Globe Walk and our next stop is right here on the left.

Stop 10: Globe Theatre

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This is the replica of the Globe theatre. American actor and director Sam Wanamaker (1919 – 1993) is credited with the idea of building a replica. It is apparently quite realistic, though it only accommodates 1400, less than half the original. But then that is modern day safety considerations for you,. Sadly Wanamaker did not live to see the playhouse open in 1997.

Beyond the chimney of the old Bankside Power station, which is now Tate Modern, more of which anon.

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But there is also another neighbour which is peeking up ahead. This is a new residential tower called One Blackfriars.

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Our next stop is just a little further along the river.

Stop 11: Cardinal Wharf

This range of buildings is dates from the early 18th century and includes a building called Cardinal’s Wharf.

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Look at the plaque.

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Now that is a compelling story. It even seems to be borne out by the fact that if you look round you get a great view of St Paul’s across the river.

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The trouble is that this plaque does not actually belong to this house. It seems it was moved here in the 1940s when the original house it adorned was demolished. that was a bit further along the river near the Founder’s Arms pub apparently.

Here is a link which explains: https://memoirsofametrogirl.com/2013/12/18/cardinals-wharf-bankside-history-survivor-of-early-18th-century-the-globe-tate-modern/

Before we leave here, just take a look by the river and you will see a quotation on the riverwall. It starts boldly “Men’s evil manners live in brass”…

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Then continues rather more faintly “Their virtues we write in water”

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This it seems is a quote from Shakespeare’s play Henry VIII

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Now continue walking along the riverside and our next stop is just on the left past the Millennium Bridge (which I am ignoring)

Stop 12: Tate Modern

Tate Modern opened here in the former Bankside Power station in 2000 and kickstarted the regeneration of this part of the South Bank.

Over time, Tate had become the guardians of two national art collections: British Art and International Modern Art. Taking over this space allowed Tate to split its permanent collections between two sites and give them more space.

The power station has closed in the 1980s and the disused hulk proved perfect for being reincarnated as a modern art gallery. It has been hugely successful and in June 2016 an extension was added expanding the floor space by some 60%.

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Since the new extension opened, Tate Modern has had a wonderful (and free) viewing terrace at Level 10 from which you can look out in all directions. Even if you do not like Modern Art do go in to go up to this terrace.

The view to the east is dominated by the Shard, with the Guy’s Hospital tower in its shadow..

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The going round anti-clockwise, you get a great view of the City from the corner.

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Then straight over the original Bankside Power Station, you see the Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s beyond. This is course is not a protected view of St Paul’s and it shows.

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The going round you can look west over the two bridges at Blackfriars – first the railway bridge, with its distinctive solar panel roof to the station which spans the bridge and then the road bridge.

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And finally walk round to the back. It is at this point you can just see parts of the Palace of Westminster (although I neglected to take a photo of that) And you can look into the nearby Neo development of apartment blocks, which have floor to ceiling windows. They look like show homes and seem unlikely to be the kind of places where anyone lives as their main home.

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Beyond you can see the yellow and grey flecked Palestra, which is opposite Southwark tube.This was a speculative office block designed by Will Alsop Architects. Palestra was an ancient Greek wrestling school, so perhaps it is fitting a building with this name now houses Transport for London staff who are responsible for the scrum that is London’s rush hour. In the distance you can see the distinctive shape of the new residential tower at Vauxhall.

In the summer of 2016 I joined the group of volunteers who give guided tours at Tate Modern, so if you time it right you can come on a tour with me (for free). Have a look at the “Come on one of my walks” tab for info on when I am next doing a Tate tour.

We are now at the end of our SE1 walk. There is so much we could have seen, but I thought I would stay mainly back from the river to point out a few things like Crossbones Gardens, Cromwell Building and the site of the Anchor Brewery which you might not have come across.

If you go back to the river, you will see Blackfriars mainline station to your left running across the river. But if you want the tube then follow the orange lamp posts from the landward side of the building and they will take you to Southwark tube station.

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E20: The Games the thing

E20 is London’s newest postcode. It is basically the Olympic park and was carved out of E15. Here is a press notice from Royal Mail explaining its creation:

http://www.royalmail.com/sites/default/files/docs/pdf/Olympics_statement_for_pafnewsc.pdf

And one might add this postcode has the distinction of being the only one where almost everything is 21st century.

So far there is no post office in E20 so we will begin our journey where many people will. That is Stratford Station. I suggest you go out on the “town” side of the station so you can then do a U turn and go back over the railway on the large pedestrian bridge.

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Stop 1: Westfield Stratford shopping centre

The centre opened on 13 September 2011. According to Wikipedia, it is the third- argest shopping centre in the United Kingdom by retail space behind the MetroCentre and the Trafford Centre. But taking the surrounding shopping area into account, it is the largest urban shopping centre in the European Union in terms of size.

Now one of the features of 21st Century shopping developments are these outdoor/indoor streets. This runs to the left of the main Mall and I suggest you go along here.

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The reason is that you get some views if you look down to the left. First there is the ArcelorMittal Orbit which we shall get to at the end.

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And just a little further on, you can see the former Olympic Stadium.

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Now head on into the Mall itself and you will see that unusually it has three levels of shops.

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I have to say though I think the Westfield at Shepherds Bush is nicer. It just feels more spacious and has a better layout with the large open area in the middle with the food offering.

The anchor stores at Stratford are M & S (at the “town” end) and John Lewis (at the “far” end). Given the size of the place, Debenhams or House of Fraser are conspicuous by their absence. Maybe this was the price of getting John Lewis here.

It is worth a detour into the John Lewis store because you can get a view out over the Olympic Park. First go to the second floor – to the side directly opposite where you came in..

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There is also an equivalent area with a view on the third floor, although the dedicated viewing area does not seem to be open. The sign says this is for a private function.

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But if you go to the side of this, you can peek in.

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And discover that the shop is using the area as a dumping ground! Not quite what you expect at John Lewis.

But you can look through the window at the view. The pattern on the window makes for a pretty picture.

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Now exit the shopping mall, and go down the steps.

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Just ahead is our next stop.

Stop 2: Stratford International station

Now here’s a funny thing. this station is called Stratford International to differentiate it from the main station which is simply called Stratford. You would think that the “international” tag might mean you could get a train going to foreign parts, especially as the Eurostar trains pass through here. But no. Although this station was designed to allow international trains to stop, they never ever have, and there seems no prospect of them ever doing so. So the station name is a little misleading to say the least.

In fact there are two stations here.

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One is served by the Southeastern High Speed trains running from St Pancras International to destinations in Kent.

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This has a large airy concourse and is the first you get to from the Westfield shopping mall.

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It is much bigger than it needs to be and part of the reason for this is that it was supposed to have more services, in particular international ones. Indeed you can see a whole section which has never been used by the public, which I guess would be where the international passengers might have gone through.

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And downstairs there are platforms which are not used at all.

At the end of the concourse furthest from the shopping centre is a little plaque to remind us of what was here before.

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This reads: Stratford Depot was here from 1839 to 2006 when it was the largest traincrew depot in Europe. The Eastern Counties and Great Eastern Railways built engines and trains on this site. The world record for the fastest build of a steam engine is still held by the Old Stratford Works, part of the Depot, and stands at 9hr 47min. This plaque commemorates the thousands of railway workers who worked at Stratford Depot.”

And there is a logo of High Speed 1, which is another name for the Channel Tunnel Rail link. But sadly there is nothing left of the actual works today.

Then just beyond, there is the Docklands Light Railway station which is a much simpler affair, without an enclosed concourse..

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And you can look down to the tracks below.

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Now do a bit of a U turn and have a look at the building going up at the corner.

Stop 3: Manhattan Loft Gardens

This is a 42-storey building which consists of a 150 room hotel at the lower levels with a 34 storey residential tower above with 248 residential units.

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It is designed by internationally renown architects, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Their website says

“The design aims to promote social interaction and reflect the area’s diversity. Amenities include leisure facilities, a swimming pool, a spa, meeting and conference spaces, and a roof garden that overlooks Olympic Park. The building also features a series of sky gardens that ensure residents are never more than nine stories from an outdoor space.”

There are lots of information panels on the hoardings around the site.

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There may be unobstructed views out from the tower but it seems that the tower itself spoils the protected view of St Paul’s from King Henry’s Mound in Richmond Park. See this article from the Guardian on 23 November 2016.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/nov/23/london-mayor-urged-to-act-over-tower-that-compromises-st-pauls-view

King Henry’s Mound is 15.5km (9.6 miles) from St Paul’s Cathedral and the Manhattan Loft Gardens development is a further 7km (4.35 miles) beyond that, making the new building around 22km (14 miles) from Richmond.

It seems incredible that a view that has been protected for so long should be spoiled by what seems to be an oversight. No one thought that a building so far away could mar the view, I guess.

Now head away from the shopping mall along the broad boulevard, which goes by the name of Celebration Avenue.

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This is not the only name round here which has just a whiff of 1984 and Big Brother. Further on we will see Victory Park and Prize Walk.

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Take a right turn at Liberty Bridge Road. Ahead just after the corner of Cheering Lane (another 1984 name) is our next stop.

Stop 4: Sir Ludwig Guttman Health and Wellbeing Centre

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Sir Ludwig Guttmann (1899 – 1980) was a German-born Jewish doctor who had escaped Nazi Germany just before the start of the Second World War. He is considered to be one of the founding fathers of organised physical activities for people with a disability. His role in establishing the Paralympics is why he gives his name to a health centre on the Olympic Park.

The site here was actually used for the 2012 Olympics Medical and Doping Centre, and was then adapted for NHS use post-Games.

The building uses a number of green technologies. Rainwater is collected to flush toilets; a green roof has been planted to improve biodiversity and reduce roof temperatures; and electricity, heating and cooling is fed from the energy efficient combined heat and power plant scheme that supplies the Olympic Park.

Now go down Cheering Lane and our next stop is ahead.

Stop 5: Chobham Academy

These buildings that were first used during the 2012 Summer Olympics as the main base for organising and managing teams. They were rebuilt after the games to become an education campus consisting of a nursery, a primary school, a secondary school, a sixth form and an adult learning facility. It opened in September 2013.

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And just outside the Academy is this red marble wall with an inscription.

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This is by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809 – 1892) from his epic poem “Ulysses” written in 1833 and published in 1842.

“.. that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

It seems that this quote popped up in the 2012 James Bond movie “Skyfall” when it was deployed by no less than Dame Judi Dench.

There is a nice blog about this here:

https://blogs.surrey.ac.uk/english/2012/11/04/skyfall-bond-and-tennyson/

Follow the road round and take a right back into Celebration Avenue. Keep going past Honour Lea Avenue.

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(Makes me think of the song “Puff the Magic Dragon” except he came from the land of Honali or possibly Honalee. Not that he actually came from anywhere as he was not not real)

Here Temple Mill Lane comes in from the right and does a 90 degree turn so straight ahead is also Temple Mill Lane. Then go left into Abercrombie Road, presumably named after Sir Patrick Abercrombie (1879 – 1957) who was best known for the post-Second World War replanning of London.

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Our next stop is ahead on the right.

Stop 6: The Lee valley Velopark

You can see the Velodrome in the distance, but there are also some outdoor facilities.

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But the Velodrome itself is the star here. It is one of the iconic buidling of the Olympic Park.

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But actually to build this meant destroying the Eastway Cycle circuit which had been created in 1975. Here is a piece mourning the loss of Eastway:

Eastway 1975 – 2006 Ten Years Gone

This concludes: “Although there is now a world class Velodrome, the Velopark lacks what Eastway had – community and usability”

Just beyond the Velodrome building is a docking station for the bike hire scheme.

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There was a not a single bike available in the racks. Mind you there were almost no people here when I visited!

Keep walking and go over the bridge and then turn left. You will see some Olympic Rings on your left.

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I wondered why there was no colour but walking on, you discover that this is the back and the rings are coloured on the other side.

A little further on we get to the Paralympic symbol which comprises three “agitos”, coloured red, blue, and green, in an asymmetrical crescent . (“agito” means “I move” in Latin)

The picture below is taken looking back so we see the “front” and if you closely at the picture you can see the Olympic rings in colour in the far distance.

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As we walk along you will see one of the other Olympic venues on your right. This is the Copper Box Arena, used for handball, modern pentathlon, fencing and goalball during the 2012 Games. It has retractable seating for up to 7,500 spectators, and can host a wide range of different sports and activities including basketball, wheelchair basketball, handball, volleyball, netball, fencing, badminton and gymnastics.

I have to say that this is not the most inspiring building, and it is not even copper coloured!

In front of the Copper Box are three letters spelling the word “run”

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Keep walking and you will come across the next stop.

But do look over to you left back towards Stratford, and the Manhattan Loft Gardens building and the Westfield shopping centre

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If you had been looking the other way you see the City, although it seems strangely small from this angle..

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Keep walking ahead crossing over the road.

Stop 7: Mandeville Place

Then stop at this seemingly random selection of brick columns and other stuff. It actually has a story.

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According to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park website:

“The name Mandeville Place has been chosen to reflect the fact that the Paralympics started in Stoke Mandeville, England in 1952, and after the 2012 Mascot, Mandeville.
Taking inspiration from the use of apples in the 2012 Opening Ceremony, Mandeville Place features a stunning orchard … the area brings together apple and other fruit trees with man-made elements, such as a pavilion made from the original Athletes Village Paralympic Wall.”

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Our next stop is just ahead on the left.

Stop 8: Carpenters Road Lock

Finally we get to see a little reminder of what was here before the Olympic park.

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This is possibly the oldest thing we have seen. It is called Carpenters Road lock.

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It is located on the Bow Back Rivers and was constructed in 1933/34. It is apparently the only lock in Britain with rising radial gates at both ends (not sure what this actually means!). British Waterways, the then owners, were hoping to restore it as part of the upgrade to Bow Back Rivers which took place for the London 2012 Games. However the gantries which enabled the gates to be raised were demolished to accommodate a wide bridge giving access to the main stadium. After the games, most of the overbridge was removed. Now it seems funding for the restoration of the lock has been found and the lock is due to be brought back into use in 2017. Mind you when I was there, no one seemed to be working at the site so who knows.

From here you get a great view of our next stop.

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Stop 9: The London Stadium

Now we can hardly come to the Olympic Park and not see the main stadium.

This has some impressive screens

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It was built as the principal stadium for the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, hosting the track and field events and opening and closing ceremonies. It has subsequently been renovated as a multi-purpose stadium, with its primary tenants being West Ham United Football Club and British Athletics, although there is some controversy about the deal and its finances. There is also some concern about the building’s suitability to operate both as a football ground and an athletics venue, given they have different spectator needs and it seems the costs of switching from one sport to another has been wildly underestimated.

Our next stop is just to the left of the Stadium.

Stop 10: ArcelorMittal Orbit

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This is the largest piece of public art in the UK standing some 114.5 metres tall. It was built for the 2012 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games and intended to be a permanent lasting legacy of London’s hosting of the games. Situated between the Olympic Stadium and the Aquatics Centre, it allows visitors to view the whole Olympic Park from two observation platforms.

Orbit was designed by Turner-Prize winning artist Sir Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond of engineering Group Arup.

The project was said to have cost £19.1 million, with £16 million coming from steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, Chairman of the ArcelorMittal steel company, and the balance of £3.1 million coming from the London Development Agency.

The name “ArcelorMittal Orbit” combines the name of Mittal’s company, as chief sponsor, with “Orbit”, the original working title for Kapoor and Balmond’s design.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit closed after the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, while the this area of the Park was reconfigured for a public outdoor space. It reopened to the public on 5 April 2014.

In the summer of 2016, the structure was modified to incorporate the world’s tallest and longest (178 metres) tunnel slide. This was designed by Carsten Höller who had previously put slides into Tate Modern.

Basically this is a way of getting more visitors here. You can peek through the railings and see where the slide comes out. From time to time a person does pop out, but it did not seem very busy when I was there.

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Just by here is another artwork, called Pixel Wall.

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There is a sign which has clearly been ignored.

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And indeed when I was there it was being ignored!

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Now our next stop is just over the way and is another of the iconic building of the Olympic Park

Stop 11: Aquatics Centre

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This was actually designed by architect Zaha Hadid in 2004 before London won the bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics. It was built alongside the Water Polo Arena, and across the Waterworks River from the Olympic Stadium.

The complex has a 50m competition pool, a 25m competition diving pool and a 50m warm-up pool. Because the centre was designed before the Olympic bid was completed, the spectator wings were not part of the original design. They were later added to give the venue a capacity of 17,500 and made it look rather ugly.

The two temporary “wings” have been removed, reducing the capacity to a regular 2,500 with an additional 1,000 seats available for major events. And it has regained it sinuous profile.

Here is a slightly surreal picture of me taking a picture of the glass end wall.

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But in some places you can go up to the windows and look in, although it was remarkably hard to get a picture because of the reflections.

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Stop 12: Since 9/11 memorial

Now go to the left of the Aquatic Centre and down the path to the car park. you will see our next stop on a little mound across the way on your left. Go round and back up to it. This is the “Since 9/11” memorial.

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It is made from steel from the World Trade Centre which was destroyed in the attack on 11 September 2001. It was created by american artist, Miyo Ando.

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“Since 9/11” is an educational charity based in Britain which supports pupils to learn about the events, causes and consequences of 9/11.  According to the BBC, the 28ft tall artwork was gifted to the UK by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in 2010 on the condition it was permanently sited. It was originally placed in Battersea Park in 2011 but  was removed after a few weeks. It languished in storage until this home was found.  The then Mayor Boris Johnson unveiled it here in March 2015.

Well we are now at the end of our E20 walk, and one that has been unique given the fact that this is basically a new district. It is a huge area and one wonders how long it would have taken to redevelop if the Olympics had not provided the impetus. And whatever you might think of the developments, it does seem some thought has gone into to making this a “place”, albeit something quite different from what we are used to in London.

We are now close to the Westfield Shopping centre and Stratford International station. You can either go from there or else walk through the shopping centre to the main Stratford station where there are many more options for onward travel.