diamond geezer

 Monday, July 05, 2010

Random borough (26): Westminster (part 2)

Somewhere random: Jubilee Greenway (section 1)
To get a flavour of western Westminster, I took a stroll along London's newest Strategic Walking Route. The first part, that is, not the entire 60km, starting at Buckingham Palace and pausing at Little Venice. I had to print out instructions before I went, because the Jubilee Greenway's virtually invisible on the ground. But I got to enjoy a bit of royalty, a lot of park, some Georgian back-terraces, several hotels and a stretch of canal. I even walked some streets I've never walked before. Here are some highlights (plus a major highlight)...

» Buckingham Palace: It always amuses me that Londoners don't give the Queen's place a second look, but tourists can't seem to drag themselves away. Late each morning, thronging behind the barriers, peering through the bars, trying to catch a glimpse of a few furry soldiers. They wait, and they wait some more, then snap snap flash as the marchpast fleets by. I left them to it.
» Hyde Park Corner: I popped into the delightfully amateur information booth at the edge of the park for some information. They didn't have it, but instead a lady in there thrust her mobile phone at me and asked if I could dial 999. Nothing serious, nothing life-threatening, it was just that she didn't understand how to dial a number that wasn't already pre-programmed into her mobile's memory. It took me a minute. And then I left her to it. I wonder whether she got the Royal Parks police or the proper lot.
» Hyde Park: Reclining on grass, browning flesh, rows of unclaimed deckchairs, the vibrant summer colours of the formal gardens, kids on scooters, ducks in the shade, toes dipped in the Diana fountain, swans poking their necks under pondweed, ice cream anyone? [Albert memorials photo]
» Serpentine Gallery: This year's temporary pavilion was in the middle of being erected over the weekend. It's incredibly red. And then I ventured inside the main gallery to see the Wolfgang Tillmans exhibition. Interesting enough, but I was out again within ten minutes.
» Bayswater: A lot of Westminster is residential, and this is one of the better-off quarters. Big houses, lots of flats, and a definite Middle-Eastern flavour too. Plus a big secret...
Somewhere especially random: 23-24 Leinster Gardens
This can't come as news to any of you, it's probably the most famous bit of obscure tube trivia around. But there are two houses in a Bayswater sidestreet which aren't really houses at all, and all to keep the neighbours happy. When the Metropolitan railway was built in the 1860s, via the cut and cover method, several buildings along the route had to be demolished. Most were replaced but a few stretches of open tunnel were needed so that the engines could vent their steam at selected spots. One such gap was here on the line between Bayswater and Paddington, although residents of leafy Leinster Gardens weren't best pleased at a gap being knocked in their elegant fa├žade. So some five-feet-thick false frontage was constructed, almost perfectly matching the rest of the street, and two fake addresses took their place between numbers 22 and 25. [photo]

Even though I knew what I was looking for, I still walked straight past and had to double back to double check. Oh they're good, apart from a few blatant clues that all here is not what it seems [photo]. The windows don't open, they're painted grey, leaving a lifeless impression across several panes on five storeys. And the front doors, there's no way to make those open, neither are there any letterboxes either because nobody lives inside. I was particularly fooled because one of the dummy houses had scaffolding outside, and there were workmen lifting up obviously genuine construction materials to a flat on an upper floor. Closer inspection revealed that the building works were nextdoor, and the neighbours had been sensible enough to erect their scaffolding in front of a house whose residents couldn't complain.

But for the the ultimate proof there's nothing here, you have to head for the street round the back. To Porchester Terrace, where Victorian residents weren't quite so forceful in their demands. Here the railway thunders undisguised beneath a low-ish brick wall, and the fake facade of Leinster Gardens is clearly seen. Six girders keep the neighbouring houses apart, and Circle line passengers pass safely between the two. They've been Transforming the Tube for nearly 150 years now, and residents of W2 are evidently well pleased.
» Paddington: For a supposedly tourist-friendly walking route, the Jubilee Greenway doesn't take the most gorgeous way through town. But I guess it's got to get from the park to the canal somehow, and round the ugly edge of the station will have to do.
» Little Venice: Ah that's better. This waterway junction retains a lot of period charm, and there's a nice floating cafe if the urge to nibble strikes. From here the Jubilee Greenway follows the Regent's Canal towpath for the next seven miles, which I presume will save the organisers money by reusing existing resources. But I broke off at Lisson Grove for...

Somewhere sporty: Lord's
Blimey, that's both of London's major cricket grounds covered on this blog in under a week, who'd have thought? This one's older, even taking into consideration it's actually the third Lord's Cricket Ground over the years. The first lies under council housing on the Lisson Grove estate, and the second had to shift when the Regent's Canal ploughed through in the early 19th century. The Marylebone Cricket Club played their first match on their latest ground in 1814 (beating Hertfordshire by an innings and 27 runs), and the first Test match came along 80 years later. Lord's may only busy for a few days a year, and the owners could surely make a huge amount more money if they sold the land for building, but still the MCC rolls on.

I arrived on a busy day. England v Australia, fifth and final one day match, and the ground packed out by keen cricketeers. Those unable to get inside appeared to have taken up residence at the Lord's Tavern, a not-very-old pub on the southern perimeter, and were watching the action from a few yards away on a big TV. From inside the ground came a sudden brief cheer, loud and sharp in a way that a football yell isn't. This turned out (I discovered later) to be the local crowd's reaction to "Smith c Anderson b Broad 15". A similar cheer, slightly noisier, greeted "Hussey c Anderson b Broad 79" a couple of minutes later. And then it was lunch, or whatever the end of an innings is called in a fixed over game, and the grandstands rapidly emptied of people. They streamed down the steps and around the perimeter passageway, heading to whatever bar or restaurant or urinal most took their fancy. A few passed out of the ground through the Grace Gate to grab a beer or food elsewhere, although it was hard to be sure precisely whereabouts nearby they might be going [photo]. Panama hats appeared to be very popular, especially amongst gentlemen of a certain age, and frequently coupled with a blazer for good measure. But the crowd was relatively mixed, if clearly skewed towards the middle and upper classes. When they finally got back to their seats it was to watch England lose by 42 runs, but to win the series. I'm sure the final cheer was both heartfelt and polite.
by tube: St John's Wood

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan22  Feb22  Mar22  Apr22  May22  Jun22  Jul22  Aug22  Sep22
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21  Jul21  Aug21  Sep21  Oct21  Nov21  Dec21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
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 me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
our bow
ian visits
blue witch
on london
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
bus and train user
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
from the murky depths

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
The DG Tour of Britain

read the archive
Aug22  Jul22  Jun22  May22
Apr22  Mar22  Feb22  Jan22
Dec21  Nov21  Oct21  Sep21
Aug21  Jul21  Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  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

the diamond geezer index
2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

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
Herbert Dip
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