diamond geezer

 Thursday, September 24, 2015

My Open House gallery
There are 67 photos altogether [slideshow]

Sorry, you didn't think I'd finished writing about Open House, did you? Seven down, six more to go...

Open House: Trinity Hospital
The oldest building in Greenwich, Trinity Hospital can be found on the riverside past the Old Royal Naval College and the Trafalgar Tavern, beneath the tall chimneys of Greenwich Power Station. Opened in 1617 as almshouses - a function it still performs - those who've lived in Greenwich for a certain time and are of a certain age might one day be allowed to move in. But you won't be allowed through its locked gate unless you happen to be passing on Open House Saturday, which is the only day of the year that a top-hatted warden stands and positively urges you inside. Do not pass by, take him up on his offer, to view the gorgeous enclave beyond the clocktower and the suite of rooms that surround. A fountain gushes placidly at the centre of the courtyard, florally bedecked and with golden fish wriggling within. To one side is a large gothic chapel, still used by residents every Thursday when the vicar of St Alfege's comes to lead a service. Upstairs is a wood panelled courtroom that's only unlocked twice a year, the other occasion being the Monday after Trinity Sunday when the City's Mercers cloak up and pay a ceremonial visit. The most fortunate residents live in ten refitted apartments surrounding the courtyard, but there are also thirty flats more in a more modern building alongside, surrounding larger gardens. With so much life experience in one place it's no surprise that residents bake a great cake, and you should use this fact as an excuse to stop for tea and linger longer. And then next time you pass the bright castellated frontage on the Thames Path you'll know the secrets of what lies behind, and probably be more than a little jealous. [7 photos]

Open House: The Seager Distillery Tower
It didn't look like the most exciting venue in the Open House brochure. A housing development beside Deptford Bridge DLR, built on the site of something historic, including refurbished 19th century buildings you'd not be able to get inside. But there was one key phrase which piqued my interest, which was the identity of the only part of the development on the tour. "Entry: 27th floor viewing gallery." And I couldn't turn that down. The developers, Galliard Homes, hadn't gone out of their way to advertise their two-day opening to anybody local, so it took a while to find the right way in. But yes, the concierge confirmed that this was the place, and one lengthy lift ride later I was in a glass box in the sky. Not a big box, more like two small chambers linked by a brief passage, but with high glass windows affording a most excellent view. To one side the City, viewed across lowrise Southwark, swinging round to the surprisingly prominent heights of Dulwich. And from the other side Greenwich (and its observatory) up close, and the end of Deptford Creek, and the Docklands skyscraper wall. Various families who'd come to visit were trying to spot their home ("oh my, there's our washing!") and determine which of the verdant lumps to the south was Hilly Fields. I love a lofty panorama, and Open House always delivers what I most crave, but even so I hung around far longer than I'd expected. I was particularly thrilled by the unobstructedness of the view, because normally when you go up something there's another tall building in the way. Instead the Distillery Tower stands alone, which is great for penthouse residents but not for low level local people who hate this lone eyesore for sticking out like a sore thumb. On any other weekend of the year I'd side with them. [7 views]

Open House: Limehouse Town Hall
Local government reorganisation hit this grand civic building hard. Opened in 1881, Limehouse Town Hall lasted as an administrative hub for less than 20 years before the Borough of Stepney absorbed Limehouse Vestry, and since then it's muddled on the best it can. Edwardian East End families came for weddings, bazaars and ‘cinematograph’ showings, after which the building's been an Infant Welfare Centre, a doctor's surgery and even (from 1975 to 1986) the National Museum of Labour History. Harold Wilson turned up specially to open the latter, and I'd like to imagine that Margaret Thatcher turned up to close it down. A deeply communal vibe remains, overseen by the Limehouse Town Hall Consortium Trust who welcome all sorts of hands-on projects and charities to thrive under their roof. On my visit the Tower Hamlets Wheelers were holding their monthly bike surgery in the main hall, tending to spokes and upturned chains while the occasional OH visitor wandered through. I took the opportunity to enjoy the Town Hall's audio tour, which was more atmosphere than fact, but brought the crumbling fabric of this great survivor to life. Long may it thrive, and all those who inspire from within. [2 photos]

Open House: Thames River Police Museum
Where is the world's oldest police force based? On the waterfront at Wapping, of course, where a band of lawmen was assembled at the end of the 18th century to reduce crime on London's lifeblood river. It made sense to merge them into the early Metropolitan Police, eventually becoming the Marine Support Unit, who continue to patrol the Thames in search of wrongdoers. They have a boathouse and private pier, complete with blue lamp, and also a small but excellent museum. This is housed in a former carpenter's workshop, its benches now piled with display cases and its walls hung with pictures and ephemera. There was a time when the Thames Police wielded cutlasses, or cracked pistols, and some of the older handcuffs don't look entirely kind. Here too are old charts and notebooks, and model ships and ensigns, and caps and epaulettes. But the main emphasis is on individual police officers and their deeds, from everyday service to something special, like rescuing passengers from the Princess Alice or the Marchioness. A stalwart group of volunteers oversee the museum and can tell you more, not just on Open House Weekend but (by appointment, in writing) throughout the year. In the absence of a proper Met Police museum, as yet, this packed heritage repository is a proper treasure. [4 photos]

Open House: London Dock - Pennington Street Warehouses
200 years ago much of the land between Wapping and Shadwell was carved out to create the London Docks, a network of deep basins for trading high-value commodities. They survived in business until the 1960s, eventually ending up in the hands of the London Docklands Development Corporation who filled in the huge Western Docks to create a non-council housing estate. Along the northern edge Rupert Murdoch built Fortress Wapping as News International's HQ, but now they've moved out there's a huge demolition site awaiting redevelopment. What's not being removed is a (very) long chain of brick vaults, these once used to store rum and spices (and more recently printer's ink), stretching most of the length of one side of Pennington Street. Site developers St George allowed access at the weekend, allowing the curious a) to stare from one end to the other b) to read lots of information boards about what's planned. And what's planned is stacks of flats, which if you believed the architect's hyped excitement on the video will be nothing short of amazing, but I was wholly unimpressed. The artist's impressions he was enthusing over could have been built anywhere, and all his spiel about how they reflect the site's maritime history seemed little more than empty bluster. Instead this is yet another exercise in cramming in as much luxury housing as possible, while the dock vaults will at least be restored for use as boutiques, bars and creative arts spaces. You'll like those, when they open, but perhaps give the rest of the "world class public realm" a miss. [photo]

Open House: St Georgs Deutsche Lutherische Kirche
It wasn't in the Open House Guide and it wasn't on the website, indeed it's possible they simply stuck a leftover poster outside the door and hoped passers-by would notice. And I'd never have noticed if the Overground was running, but there I was walking up to Aldgate, and there they were, so in I went. St George's is the oldest German church in the UK, opened 250 years ago by a community of expat sugar-boilers, this being a key local industry at the time. A place of worship until 1996, it was subsequently rescued and restored by the Historic Chapels Trust, and is now used mostly for recitals, concerts and lectures. Very few box-pew chapels survive, let alone double-decker pulpits, and its Georgian altar decorations are also a sight to see. Visit on the first Tuesday lunchtime of the month to enjoy an organ recital on the restored Walcker. What shone through here, even more than at other venues over the weekend, was the dedication of a band of volunteers who've striven to keep the place alive, and really wanted you to stay for tea and biscuits so they could tell you more. And if that's the true spirit of Open House, long may it remain.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Wed 19th - Sun 23rd October
Bloomsbury Festival
It's free to visit the Foundling Museum this weekend.

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2015 index
diamond geezer 2014 index
diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards