Friday, 17 November 2017

Urban Wandering: Imperial Road Gas Holders, Fulham, London

Just a short blog post today to share some pictures from a few weeks ago of one of my favourite urban features, gas holders. These relics of industrial architecture used to be common place but now more and more of them are being cleared for re-development. This particular gas holder is the only one remaining from the Imperial Gasworks, near Fulham, which according to the National Grid website, is gasholder number 2 and the oldest in the world. The series of 4 photos follows my approach towards it heading south-east along Imperial Road. I have visited this area before and blogged about it in An Urban Wander around Imperial Wharf but the colour of the sky and the evening sun made the magnificent structure look even more impressive and imposing than usual.

London remains strewn with several former power stations and gasworks. Most people will be familiar with Battersea Powerstation, and also very likely the Bankside Power Station (now the Tate Modern) but for anyone interested in reading more about these wonderful structures, I can highly recommend London's Lost Power Stations and Gasworks by Ben Pedroche.

Gas holders, Imperial Gasworks, Imperial Wharf, London
Gas holder, Imperial Gasworks, London

Gas holders, Imperial Gasworks, Imperial Wharf, London
Gas holder, Imperial Gasworks, London

Gas holders, Imperial Gasworks, Imperial Wharf, London
Gas holder, Imperial Gasworks, London

Gas holders, Imperial Gasworks, Imperial Wharf, London
Gas holder, Imperial Gasworks, London

    

Thanks for reading this post. Any comments are very welcome and appreciated.

Friday, 10 November 2017

An Urban Wander around Brentford, London

Every time I think I'll devote some time to writing a new blog post I seem to get sidetracked. Most of the distractions are good and generally related to some of my favourite past times like mountain biking, walking, going to gigs, searching for vinyl records and reading ... which reminds me that I should mention my latest read before launching into today's post. Based on my enjoyment of Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain, by John Grindrod, and also based on my own childhood of growing up on the outskirts of London in the 1970's living on the edge of the greenbelt, I ordered another of his books, Outskirts: Living Life on the Edge of the Green Belt

The pictures in this post were taken a couple of months ago when I was staying up in London for work. My usual hotel near the office was priced well beyond the reach of any reasonable expenses policy, so I ended up staying a bit further out of the centre, in Brentford. I have driven past Brentford on the way into London in the past, but have never stopped and don't really know much about it, other than their football team has an annoying habit of beating my football team, but let's not dwell on that.

As I walked from the bus stop to my hotel for the night, I already suspected a different experience than my usual London overnight stay. The lane I took from the main road towards the hotel quickly became a footpath and cycle path, leaving the noise of the road behind and opening out into park land. As I approached the hotel I could see the dome of the Great Conservatory of Syon House, architected by Charles Fowler in the 1880s and restored to its former glory in the 1980s.

Great Conservatory, Syon House 
Great Conservatory, Syon House 

I'm assuming the turreted building was some sort of gate, or guard house, for the main house.


The actual house of Syon House, London home of the Duke of Northumberland, with grounds re-designed by Lancelot "Capability" Brown, looked wonderful in the late evening sun. Just a shame that there was a transit van parked outside to spoil the view.

Syon House in the late evening sun
Syon House in the late evening sun

The late evening sun and a liberal spread of light cloud, made for some great views and photo opportunities.

Late evening sun in Syon Park
Late evening sun in Syon Park

After my evening stroll around Syon Park I headed into Brentford in search of dinner. I knew the Grand Union canal went through Brentford, but was not quite sure what to expect. Being a keen walker, and having walked on parts of the London Loop, the Grand Union Canal Walk, and the Capital Ring I was impressed by the available options on this sign ... almost a walker's paradise.

Walker's paradise signpost , Brentford Lock
Walker's paradise signpost , Brentford Lock

Brentford lock itself remains an impressive engineering feature, but the residential areas around it left me a little cold.

Brentford lock
Brentford lock

Brentford lock
Brentford lock

There was however still some sign of industry of days-gone-by further down the canal.


I'm not quite sure what this building is, or was, or whether the ornate, floral metalwork was original, restored or new. Either way it made a pleasant change to the canal side flats.





This was not the first time I'd seen a mile post for Braunston. I had seen one previously during a Suburban Wander from Harefield to Moor Park following the London Loop where I had suggested it was "in the middle of nowhere" but was quickly and quite rightly corrected by a reader saying otherwise, so I won't make that mistake again.

Mile post for Braunston
Mile post for Braunston

The grade II former toll house is now a museum.

Former toll house, Brentford Lock
Former toll house, Brentford Lock

These next 2 photos were taken the following morning as I made my way back to the bus stop. I had seen the former railway bridge the previous night but it was too dark for a photo. These former railway arches used to carry the Brentford Branch Line, or Brentford Dock Line, from the GWR line at Southall down to Brentford Dock. The bridge across the road is long since gone, but the railway arches still remain, although a bit too orange for my liking. A bit of internet research suggests this line could be re-opened.

Railway arches carrying the former Brentford Dock line
Railway arches carrying the former Brentford Dock line

Railway arches carrying the former Brentford Dock line
Railway arches carrying the former Brentford Dock line

Here are a few links to some of the books and walks I referenced earlier on in the blog post.

    

Thanks for reading. Your comments are always welcome and appreciated. Hopefully my future posts will not be so few are far between.

Monday, 1 May 2017

An Urban Wander from Deptford Bridge to Greenwich, London

Having stayed up in London one or two nights per week on-and-off for the past few years, since changing jobs it's quite a rarity I get to London these days, and staying over is even more unusual. However, there was a very special reason we were visiting the capital ... to see The Orb at the Royal Festival Hall, for an ambient evening with them and some of their friends, one of who was Youth who I'd last seen at the Stroud Leisure Centre in 1982 as part of Killing Joke (but that's another story). Whilst the majority of this post will be about the Urban Wandering we did the following day, I couldn't resist sharing just a couple of pictures from the evening.

The Orb, playing live at the Royal Festival Hall, April 21st 2017
The Orb, playing live at the Royal Festival Hall, April 21st 2017

The Orb, playing live at the Royal Festival Hall, April 21st 2017
The Orb, playing Little Fluffy Clouds live at the Royal Festival Hall, April 21st 2017

Anyway, enough of the ambient-dub diversion, and on to the urban wandering. I've been to Greenwich plenty of times before but never really to the nearby Deptford Bridge, nor to the parts of Greenwich we ended up wandering around. My only real association with Deptford was through the 1970's record label Deptford Fun City, which was the label who released the very first single by Squeeze, Packet of Three, and also a vast array of records by Alternative TV who I have only recently discovered.

Our wander started from just outside the hotel where we stayed for the gig and soon we were into areas of London I'd never seen before but started firing up my psychogeographical yearnings once more.

First up we have the former Mumford's Greenwich Flour Mills. I had seen this before but only ever from the Docklands Light Railway. Whilst this has now been converted into some fairly luxurious apartments, it's good to see that the exterior architecture and signage remains in place.
Mumford's Greenwich Flour Mills, Deptford Bridge, London
Mumford's Greenwich Flour Mills, Deptford Bridge, London

Deptford Bridge is an area of contrasts. It's undergoing a fairly major redevelopment with flats being built everywhere, so I guess it's only a matter of time before this property is updated. If you ever wondered why your internet connection was a bit slow, then this may be the reason why.

Derelict building, Deptford Bridge, London
Derelict building, Deptford Bridge, London

Trying to find a way to walk along the side of Deptford Creek we cam across more abandonment, this time in the shape of a former pub, The Thames.

Abandoned pub, Deptford Bridge, London
Abandoned pub, Deptford Bridge, London

Abandoned pub, Deptford Bridge, London
Abandoned pub, Deptford Bridge, London

After wandering through some more of Deptford Bridge, we headed back into Greenwich. I have deliberately not included any pictures from the more usual parts of Greenwich, although I did try and take a shot of the entrance to the foot tunnel but there were so many tourists posing there to have their picture taken I gave it up as a bad job. Instead we continued on along the bank of the Thames, past the Cutty Sark towards Greenwich Power Station, which I was very surprised to find is still in use today. Those of you who have read my previous blog posts will know that at one stage I was slightly obsessed with power stations and gas works, driven mainly by the fantastic book, London's Lost Power Stations and Gasworks by Ben Pedroche. The power station is quite magnificent and can be seen from a good distance away.

Looking towards Greenwich Power Station from the west
Looking towards Greenwich Power Station from the west

Sitting beneath the shadow of the power station, but predating it by centuries is the Trinity Hospital and Alms Houses, originally built in 1613, rebuilt in 1812 and still in use today providing sheltered accommodation.

Greenwich Power Station and the Trinity Hospital, Greenwich, London
Greenwich Power Station and the Trinity Hospital, Greenwich, London

Trinity Hospital, Greenwich, London
Trinity Hospital, Greenwich, London

The next set of pictures are all of the former coal jetty attached to the power station. Despite trying a variety of angles I couldn't quite get the picture I was hoping for.

Coal jetty, Greenwich Power Station, London
Coal jetty, Greenwich Power Station, London

Coal jetty, Greenwich Power Station, London
Coal jetty, Greenwich Power Station, London

Coal jetty, Greenwich Power Station, London
Coal jetty, Greenwich Power Station, London

Coal jetty, Greenwich Power Station, London
Coal jetty, Greenwich Power Station, London

Greenwich Power Station, London
Greenwich Power Station, London

Coal jetty, Greenwich Power Station, London
Coal jetty, Greenwich Power Station, London

A little further along the Thames from the power station is the former Harbour Master's Office, still displaying the signage.

Former Harbour Master's Office, Greenwich, London
Former Harbour Master's Office, Greenwich, London

Not as if anyone needed it, but there are reminders of Greenwich's maritime heritage everywhere. Here we see a quaint little row of houses in Union Wharf.

Union Wharf, Greenwich, London
Union Wharf, Greenwich, London

Union Wharf, Greenwich, London
Union Wharf, Greenwich, London

You may have noticed the sky becoming increasingly duller in each photo, and sure enough it started to rain so we headed back for the warmth of Greenwich itself. Having completed a circuit around the
power station, this is the view from the back. And as a bit of a bonus there was a sundial on the back of one of the Trinity Hospital buildings. Alas however the sun was not shining.

Greenwich Power Station, Greenwich, London
Greenwich Power Station, Greenwich, London

Sundial on the back of Trinity Hospital, Greenwich, London
Sundial on the back of Trinity Hospital, Greenwich, London

As we headed back into Greenwich the heavens really started to open so pictures are few and far between, but I was determined to take this one despite the rain running down my neck into my shirt.

Canary Wharf through the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London
Canary Wharf through the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London

As way of reward after battling our way through the rain, we treated ourselves to spot of lunch at the really rather wonderful Champagne et Fromage in Greenwich. I have to confess that initially we only went in there to get a hot drink, get out of the rain, and plan the next part of our day, but having seen the food we simply couldn't resist.

Lunch at Champagne et Fromage, Greenwich, London
Lunch at Champagne et Fromage, Greenwich, London


    

Saturday, 28 January 2017

A lunchtime wander around the other end of Hook, Hampshire

Before we get into the pictures, I have become a bit curious about Hook as it's quite an odd place. Thousands and thousands of houses, only a few shops, and a relatively small train station at which the central platforms have been removed a while back, leaving just two remaining platforms, and many trains simply spped through on their way to London or Exeter, and do not stop there. I've come across a book called The Planning of a New Town written in in 1961 which describes a private new town, sponsored by the London County Council (LCC), to be built at Hook in Hampshire; a scheme that innovatively combined Garden City/New Town traditions with sensitivity to modern design. It would not appear though that the Hook of today is a result of this study, and that perhaps efforts were diverted to Basingstoke instead. Anyway, on with the show ...

Following on from my earlier wander around the less well trod paths surrounding Hook, today I wandered in the opposite direction, south along Holt Lane until it petered out into footpaths, eventually reaching and crossing over the busy M3 motorway. The day was bitterly cold but gloriously sunny. The ground was frozen and crisp underfoot, with just a few sticky patches where the weak sun had managed to thaw out some of the frozen mud.

Looking south along Holt Lane, Hook, Hampshire
Looking south along Holt Lane, Hook, Hampshire

As the lane became thinner it was not particularly obvious where the path went until I caught sight of a footbridge in the distance. A tranquil walk interrupted rudely by the noisy motorway.

Footbridge over the M3, Hook, Hampshire
Footbridge over the M3, Hook, Hampshire

Annoyingly I didn't manage to capture this view of the footbridge very squarely, but an interesting contrast between the clear blue sky and turquoise railings of the bridge.

Footbridge over the M3, Hook, Hampshire
Footbridge over the M3, Hook, Hampshire

After crossing the bridge there were a couple of footpaths I could have taken, but lunchtime was running out, and also they looked a bit muddy to attempt in my work attire, so I headed back north the way I had come. If I'm still working here later in the year then maybe there will be more options open to me in the drier weather.

Looking north along Holt Way, Hook, Hampshire
Looking north along Holt Way, Hook, Hampshire

  ;  

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

In Search of Space, in Hook

Well, not as promised, but possibly as expected I have once again neglected my blog. I have recently started a new job and the first couple of weeks have been a little hectic, getting used to my new commute, and orientating myself around the work. I had hoped to travel by train, but after the first week it became clear that it would take twice as long as driving so reluctantly I have abandoned public transport and taken to my car.

I've managed a couple of lunchtime wanders from my new work location in Hook. The first couple of wanders were simply to stretch my leas and get some lunch, and were not particularly inspiring, but more recently I found a footpath that I'd spotted on google maps, and discovered a more rural setting, and as the title of my blog insists, some space. I only managed a short wander, but this route definitely calls for a bit more exploration, in both directions.

Anyone who has read my blog before will know that I'm a bit of a sucker for railway bridges, especially ones no longer in use, and whilst this one is most definitely in use, carrying the main line between Basingstoke and Waterloo, the bridge is an old brick arch, which is very much to my liking.

Railway bridge across Holt Lane, Hook, Hampshire
Railway bridge across Holt Lane, Hook, Hampshire

Railway bridge across Holt Lane, Hook, Hampshire
Railway bridge across Holt Lane, Hook, Hampshire 

Farm track off Holt Lane, Hook, Hampshire
Farm track off Holt Lane, Hook, Hampshire 

Railway bridge across Holt Lane, Hook, Hampshire
Railway bridge across Holt Lane, Hook, Hampshire

Tomorrow I'm off to London, so with a bit of luck I'll get an opportunity for some early morning urban wandering before my meeting, so maybe this week will see another blog post ... but then again maybe not. We'll just have to wait and see.

In other news, I am desperately trying to find time and energy to read a book I got for my birthday last year called Timekeepers, How The World Became Obsessed With Time, by Simon Garfield, partly because I want to finish reading the book, but also so I can start on a more recent purchase, Post Punk Then and Now.

  

Monday, 21 November 2016

An Urban Wander along the Gloucester Road in Bristol

It wasn't until my phone storage had become full, and I was forced to upload my pictures to my PC, that I realised I did have a few other blog-worthy pictures to share. A few weeks ago we visited one of our kids who's at university in Bristol. Living just off the Gloucester Road now, we walked from his new house down the hill and into the city. The weather was a bit overcast so I didn't take anywhere as many photos as I would have had the weather been a bit brighter. The few pictures I did take however are of a recent passion of mine, doorway mosaics. I'm constantly, and pleasantly, surprised at just how many of these are still intact, and have not been destroyed as part of some modernisation scheme. This is a particular sore point for me at the moment as recently we visited the centre of Nottingham, again paying a visit to another of our kids at uni, and had cause to go to the Victoria shopping centre. I knew at one stage it was the location of a station but it wasn't until I returned home and did a quick internet search that I realised just how magnificent it was, and what a travesty it was to have bulldozed it in the 1960's to be replaced with a shopping centre. There's a good article on it on the BBC news site and a curiously intriguing book called Nottingham Victoria: The story of a slum, a station and a shopping centre. Sorry, I digress and seem to have become a bit melancholy, so back to the more upbeat purpose of this blog post, doorway mosaics.

Doorway mosaic, Gloucester Road, Bristol
Doorway mosaic, Gloucester Road, Bristol

Doorway mosaic, Gloucester Road, Bristol
Doorway mosaic, Gloucester Road, Bristol

So, just a short post today, but hopefully I'm back on the path to more regular blog postings.

    

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