diamond geezer

 Saturday, August 06, 2011

My Open House London programme arrived in the post yesterday. That's the annual architectural weekend where 750 London buildings open their doors for free, this year taking place on 17th and 18th September. Pay up front and the organisers send you the full brochure in advance, giving one full weekend to plan where you'd like to visit before the booking system goes live on Monday. As usual there's a mix of "turn up on the day" and "pre-booking essential" tours, and tickets for some of the latter disappear like hot cakes the minute the website opens. That's 10am on Monday morning - or indeed a couple of minutes before, as I discovered last year when many of the prime tickets had already been snapped up by the time the official starting gun fired. It pays to be ready, mouse-finger primed, if you don't want to miss out.

I shall be missing out this year. Even though I've got my £6.50 programme in advance, I shall be in a terribly important meeting on Monday at 10am where it won't be possible to say "oh excuse me, could I pop out and book a tour up an iconic London skyscraper?" Bugger. Still, you might appreciate knowing a few highlights to look out for, so that you can nip in and swipe the top tickets hours before I can get near a computer. I hate you all already, obviously.

10 interesting-looking pre-book-only Open House London tours (now clickable)
» Underground Bunker, Neasden (Sat): Tours of Churchill's secret suburban concrete hideaway (I've been)
» BT Tower (Sat, Sun): Dead rare chance to visit the rotating restaurant at the top (good news, this one's a ballot)
» King's Cross station (Sun): Tours of the newly-restored Eastern Range buildings (75 tickets only)
» London Bridge station (Sat, Sun): Tours of the mid-18thC vaults, before they're restored and opened to the public (60 tickets only)
» St Pancras Renaissance Hotel (Sat): Get inside the famous Midland Grand, recently restored and reopened (120 tickets only)
» Tower 42 (Sat): When it opened, the Nat West Tower was London's tallest skyscraper (ridiculously exclusive - 40 tickets only)
» Boat Tours from Greenwich Pier (Sat, Sun, 2pm): Two engineering-led river tours, one into town, the other out to Tilbury (100-ish seats per Clipper)
» Trellick Tower (Sun): Erno Goldfinger's monumental social housing block (112 tickets only)
» BBC Television Centre (Sun): Go look round the 50-year-old telly crucible before Auntie sells it (I've been)
» 55 Broadway (Sat, Sun): Go look round the Art Deco home of London Transport before TfL sells it (I went last year)
(booking opens Monday 8th August, 10am)

Ian has the complete pre-booking list available here. (thanks Ian)

My Open House reports: Sept 2010 [photos], Sept 2009 [photos], Sept 2008 [photos], Sept 2007 [photos], Sept 2006, Sept 2005 [photos], Sept 2004 [gherkin photos], Sept 2003, Sept 2002

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