Travels: London: Thursday 6th Apr. 2000

Part 1

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Highlights

Major tour along South Bank to Bankside; Clink Prison Museum; river cruise; Greenwich; Docklands Light Railway

Main purpose: see the south bank of the Thames


There was a long queue for tickets at Cambridge station around 09:50 but it only took about 5 minutes to get a ticket. I got a One-Day Travelcard again and a non-stop train to Kings Cross, arriving at about 10:45.

I tried to catch a Piccadilly Line train but even the platform was full and overspilling into the cross-tunnel corridors, so I went out of the barriers again (which would have wasted a 1.50 single-journey ticket) and to the Circle Line to Euston - very quiet. I detoured to have a walk around the surrounding streets: Euston Road, North Gower St., Euston Street, Melton St.) and back to Euston Square, past Railtrack House, inherited from its days as British Rail HQ. I spotted the Head of Steam on the far side (having failed to find it earlier). It's south-east of the station, through a low-profile door to the first floor of an office block.

[over York Road towards IMAX] I took a quiet Northern Line train to Waterloo and found the exit to the South Bank complex, passing the area designated as Waterloo International (for Channel Tunnel trains). The path led to a walkway across York Road (with the London IMAX in the distance - more of that later) and through the Shell Centre out to the South Bank.


[Multimap]
[Hayward Gallery] Then I began a long walk downstream parallel to the river, starting on Upper Ground. I passed the Royal National Theatre, the ugly Hayward Gallery (pictured) and the National Film Theatre. I was particularly looking for the Museum of the Moving Image, which was supposed to be there.
[Afterwards I looked on the Web site and discovered MOMI is closed for redevelopment till approximately 2003.]


The Gabriel's Wharf area between Upper Ground and the Riverside Walk is now a fascinating collection of small shops, stalls and cafes. This time I passed by but I visited subsequently.

[The Oxo Tower - London article describes the Coin Street community project.]
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I went by the Oxo Tower complex, seeing the "Museum of" (currently Emotions), the shops and gallery and then hi-tech studio units on the ground and first floors, with posh-looking flats (actually housing association ones) above. [Back along Barge House St.]

<- Looking back towards the "Museum of" in the Barge House ...
[Oxo Tower]

... and then turning right towards the units and flats ->

Then I carried onwards across Blackfriars Road to the riverside walkway alongside United News & Media (The Express). Riverside Walk from this point downstream to Southwark Bridge was being redeveloped but was partly usable.
[2 old houses]

Just before the Globe Theatre and Bankside Power Station (Tate Modern) there were two fascinating old houses (seventeenth century?). On the left is "Cardinals Wharf" and the right "Provost's House". [More detailed pics to follow.]


I saw that the extraordinary [Millennium Bridge construction] Millennium Bridge (Norman Foster/Anthony Caro) was progressing rapidly.


[The Financial Times offices are just downriver of the area and the FT sponsored the Bridge's design competition.
More...]

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The Globe Theatre had a large group of foreign children milling about waiting to go in so I abandoned any thought of going in. Due to the Riverside Walk rebuilding I had to turn into Bear Gardens and there found the Globe Exhibition was busy with largely (and I use that advisedly) American tourists.

[Vinopolis map;
Multimap]
Via Park Street I arrived outside Vinopolis in Bank Street. The ancient Anchor pub, a haunt and changing rooms of Shakespeare's company, is at the far end (Bank End) by the river bank. Down Clink Street is the Clink Prison Museum, which I went round for 4. The history is fascinating and the displays evocative though modest (refreshingly traditional) by today's multimedia standards for museums.

I thought about going round Vinopolis but didn't feel ready for it - apparently it's quite lengthy. It costs 11.50 which includes wine samples.
[On a subsequent trip I was in Stoney Street at the rear of Vinopolis and saw there were many related units such as an academic centre, giving me the impression it's reused former vintners warehouses, perhaps as an initiative of a vintners trade body.]

I walked back alongside the river to the London Eye. There were extraordinary numbers of lunchtime office joggers: approx. 12 per minute passing me, about 95% heading downriver. At the Eye there were very long queues now it was open, yet some capsules were empty.
[The Eye's ticket sales are way ahead of forecasts - millionth visitor in April when 2.5M expected for the year. A similar story to the Tate Modern.]

I went via the large subway near Waterloo Station to the BFI London IMAX cinema and saw that Fantasia 2000 was on until the end of April, which was tempting (it's one of the few Disney films I like).

...continued in part 2...


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