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Friday, 5 October 2012

A wander down London's little back alleys, mews and arches.

This is a record of my exploration over the years of London's many back alleys, mews and arches. There is more to London than Big Ben and Madame Tussaud's. It's a shame more people (not just tourists but locals too) don't step off the much beaten path and wander off on a tangent down these little streets. There is instant peace and calm in them in contrast to the often manic pace and noise of the main streets of London. The cafe's are independent and  are also considerably cheaper than the franchises on the main streets.

Appropriately I'll start with Adam and Eve Mews in Kensington. Mews were originally built as a place of storage for horses and carriages. As the motor car became more popular they were converted to garages. Mews are usually only found in well to do areas of London as this one is.
These steps lead down to the River Thames in Wapping and are known as Alderman's Stairs. This was once a busy access point for passengers to board the ferry boats operated by the watermen.

 This less salubrious view is off an alley in Brick Lane. The Gherkin can be seen in the background. Like most big cities London is a city of contrasts, rich and poor, derelict and modern.
This narrow entrance leads to Catherine Wheel Alley and it's opposite Liverpool Street Station on Bishopsgate. It's the narrowest alley I've yet to discover. It exits at the other end in to Middlesex Street, otherwise known as Petticoat Lane of flea market fame.
This huge place is in Chamber Street in Tower Hamlets. It's beneath a railway line and was once probably a workshop. Now it's been abandoned. And for the macabre amongst us, in a nearby arch Jack the Ripper's last victim was found.
This is Assembly Passage of the Mile End Road. Not a place I would wander down at night!
This is Denmark Place, it's reached through Denmark Street. Home of the early music industry in London and the alley is full of recording studios.
This large factory in Frederick Close (a mews) in Paddington was a musical instrument factory from the late Victorian period.
 This is Newman Passage, a fine example of the many narrow alleys that can be found in London. It's in Fitzrovia.
 This is Fish Street Hill in Spitalfields. It's an arch beneath a railway and the steps take you over into an area near Brick Lane.
 This atmospheric photo is again beneath a railway in Braithwaite Street, near the Shoreditch High Street rail station.
Below is a little house at the end of a cul-de-sac and tucked almost under a railway line in Putney. I can't decide if I'd like to live there or not!
A typical mews entrance. It's Bryanston Mews West  in Mayfair. Always appealing, it invites you to walk into it and do a little exploring.
I don't think I've ever seen a mews tarmaced. I don't suppose the tarmac lorry can get through those small entrances to the mews. Cobbles are so lovely. This is Eaton Mews in Belgravia.
A very typical view of a mews. It's easy to see where the stables were. This is Queensgate Place in Kensington.
Another little alley, Lovat Lane in the City, still cobbled. I don't suppose this has changed in the 200 plus years since this was built.
A funny little house in a mews in Nottinghill where the chimney flue seems to have been added on as an after thought.
This alley is just up from a 'Roman' bath near Temple tube.
Every time I enter a mews or an alley I feel as though I've stepped back in time and it's the closest I'll ever get to time travel. 

Friday, 11 May 2012

Lamps in London.

There are hundreds of old and interesting and beautiful lamps in the streets of London.
I'll start on the Embankment. I love these lamps, they are very ornate and usually have a dolphin at the base with leaves winding up the post to the lamp above.
Can you imagine a London (or any large city) street without lighting? How unsafe, creepy and dangerous it would be to walk around these streets after the sun had set.
 This is the base of the these lamps. They have the face of Neptune (I think) on them and the date they were cast.
 The one below is in the Art Deco style, which I love.
This is an old gas lamp has been converted to electric. There are several hundred of these lamps that have survived from the Victorian age.
 This lamp is in Spitalfields. It just emphasizes the narrowness of the streets in parts of London. In the City of London lamps are always wall mounted as the streets are too narrow for lamps to be placed on the pavement.
 A pretty Victorian lamp. One of the many things I love about the Victorian designers were their attitude to design for even the most mundane of things.
 This time it's another Art Deco lamp on an Art Deco building.
 Even the posts are interesting in their own right. There is no point in decorating a post, it's only functional after all. But I am so pleased that the designers do decorate the humble post.
 More Art Deco loveliness. The bulbs are exquisiteness themselves.
 This multi lamped stand is on Lambeth Bridge.
An old dental surgeon's lamp in Bloomsbury. It's still a dental practice.
This lamp is part of a memorial to Sir Joseph Bazalgette and is on Chelsea Embankment. Here's a wiki page all about him.
This is in a trendy part of Chelsea and this is a real street lamp.

A nice close up of an ex gas lamp near the Houses of Parliament.
All that remains of an early electric street lamp beneath a Victorian railway bridge.
More lamps along the Embankment with St Paul's cathedral in the background.
 A close up of the dolphin on the base of the Embankment lamps.
 This is one of the most unusual lamps I have come across. It sits on the top of a water pump. I have not been able to find out anything about this pump apart from that it dates from the early 1800's.
 Below is more detail from a lamp on the Embankment, but this time it's in the street rather than on the wall of the Embankment. It shows Britannia.
 A fire station lamp. On a Art Deco building in Euston Road.
 Very arty lamps in Eversholt Street.
 This is a whale oil lamp, it dates from the seventeenth century. Whale blubber would have been placed in a container in the circle and lit.
This fancy lamp is on a bridge near Gloucester Gate.
 This modest lamp is outside the Harrods Depository which is now a posh block of flats.
 This unusual lamp depicts a cherub using the telephone. It's on the former Astor's home in Temple.
 This one is on Edward Stoll charity home for ex soldiers in Fulham. Note the little pineapple on top, this is an ancient symbol to welcome visitors.
 Another Art Deco lamp, this time on the Senate House entrance to University College London.
This lamp is in The Artworkers Guild entrance hall in Queen Square near Russell Square.
These lamps are within the City of London and has the dragon (or griffin) symbol on the top.
These men were doing some maintenance on a lamp in St. Dunstan's Court, just off Ludgate.
This very old gas lamp is on the wall of the Centre Page pub in Knightrider Street, Cheapside.
This life-size lamp is outside Triton Court in Finsbury Square.
 This lovely blue lamp is on the headquarters of the Royal Horse-guards building in Whitehall Court.
Now it's time to extinguish this post, I hope you enjoyed looking at the photo's.