Travels: London: Tuesday 2nd May 2000

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Highlights

O'Hanlons brewpub; North bank of Thames; Mapping the Town follow-up; Barbican complex

Main purpose: work trip for an EastNet Procurement meeting at ULCC; if time permits, visit O'Hanlons brewpub before it's sold.


Arriving at the station at 07:50, there was a shortish queue for tickets. As at that point I was expecting an all-day meeting, I bought a simple day Return ticket without Tube travel. In retrospect I should have gotten unlimited Zone 1+2 Tube travel too.

I caught the 08:17 train: 2 stops to Kings Cross, arriving on time around 09:13. I forgot about the taxi rank there making it awkward to walk directly out south-westwards to Euston Road. The quick route is to go straight out of the station southwards and if necessary a little eastwards to Euston Road and then turn westwards.

I walked past St Pancras station and then turned south down Judd Street.
[An aside: see the excellent Web site with pics of the interior of George Gilbert Scott's Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras. It's due to be refurbished as part of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. I went inside on a later trip.]

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On the west side of Judd Street is a striking block of flats, apparently a Camden Council development c1970: a tiered cement and glass construction, reminiscent of Lasdun Court in Christ's College. Think ziggurat or ocean liner. Fire escape ladders run down the face and look like afterthoughts. Further down the street one sees the name, the Brunswick Centre, along with an arts cinema, The Renoir.

My meeting was on Guildford Street at 10:00 and was over about 13:45.

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I walked eastwards, along Calthorpe Street, then down Farringdon Road and along Rosebery Avenue to Tysoe Street and O'Hanlons brewpub, which is due to be sold by the end of May to finance brewery expansion.
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We had their excellent Port Stout at the 1999 Winter Ale Festival and I had another pint now (2.20). The pub is quite dark and cosy, with old wooden tables. There's a small garden at the rear.
[For comparison, the indoor section is a little larger than the St Radegund.]

I followed Farringdon Road, the course of the Fleet river, down to near Farringdon station. This part of the trip was inspired by the Web pages of the Radio 4 series Mapping the Town by Julian Richards (in Series 1 Episode 4). I tried to find the Jerusalem Tavern in Britton Street, north-east of the station, but failed, taking the wrong turn down Cowcross Street, then along Charterhouse Steet and back to the station.

I used the ticket machine to get a Travelcard for 3.90. For future reference I had to select a button for One-Day One-Adult Travelcard and another button for Zones 1+2. A third button selected payment by cash, I think.

After about a 7-minute wait I took a Thameslink train to Blackfriars, passing through a long tunnel through Snow Hill,
[See Railtrack - Thameslink 2000].
the one reopened to reestablish this link through central London.

Blackfriars is one of the few stations in central London I've seen without ticket barriers. At the exit I used a bank ATM as I did my previous time here. It still seems slightly innovative to have them in stations - they're not yet standard features except for the largest stations. The exit corridor has prints of early designs for the Blackfriars Bridge.

[St Paul's Walk, view upstream] I walked along the north bank of the Thames, here known as St Paul's Walk. It's much narrower than the opposite side but a lovely, peaceful setting, though the Upper Thames Street carriageway thunders a short distance away. There are trellises and benches all along the path.

Passing underneath the rapidly-progressing Millennium Bridge, I got a different angle on the Bankside rebuilding works.
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The path ended at the City of London School and I carried on along Upper Thames Street. It's one of the river terraces Julian Richards & co. describe. At the junctions with roads running down to the river one can see the slope and terraces. Dowgate Hill and its continuation up Walbrook are particularly striking. This is also the course of the former Walbrook tributary. [St Stephen Walbrook] At the top of Walbrook is St Stephen of Walbrook church, designed by Wren. This and St Paul's Cathedral are the only London churches by him with domes.
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From Bank station I went to Moorgate, changing lines to get to the Barbican station. I used the elevated walkway to cross to the Barbican complex and walked through to the Barbican Centre, bringing back memories of c1983 when I used to walk through, around the time the complex was finished. It's still a striking development for a council housing estate - though the Corporation of London isn't exactly a normal council. Anyway, the place now looks "lived in".

I tried to find the Art of Star Wars exhibition in the Barbican Art Gallery. By the entrance there was a full-size X-wing fighter model. There were plenty of signs for other aspects of the Centre but none for the Gallery.
[Afterwards I found from the Web site that it's on "level 3".]

I returned to Barbican station and caught a train to Kings Cross at 16:25, catching the 16:45 train with 2 stops to Cambridge.

In the morning the train gained 4 carriages at Royston and the reverse happened on the return. Presumably this saves money on the onward journey to Kings Lynn.

Afterthoughts

I realised I'd seen a lot of streetcleaners in the City - it's something the Corporation seems to take very seriously, compared with most councils which perhaps only send out cleaners in the evening or early morning. Another factor is the absence of litter bins - places where bombs can be left.

Follow-up

As of October, O'Hanlons has been sold to the bloke who runs another well-regarded pub, the Pakenham Arms (Bloomsbury). It still sells some O'Hanlon beers. The Brewery's move from Vauxhall to Devon has been put off till at least December.


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