Travels: London: Saturday 10th June 2000

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Millennium Bridge opens; see rest of Tate Modern; Millennium Bridge exhibition; see Art at Wyndham's Theatre

Main purpose: cross Millennium Bridge on its opening day

With a One-Day All-Zone Travelcard from the ticket machine, I caught the 08:31 stopping train to Kings Cross for 09:30 (actually 4 mins. early), then the Piccadilly Line to Holborn and the Central Line to St Paul's.

I walked clockwise around the Cathedral this time and down St Peter's Walk to the Millennium Bridge.
The Save the Children Fund workers were controlling access until the noon opening to the public. Their sponsored walk started at the south end of the Bridge, by Tate Modern, and involved walking across the bridge, around to Southwark and back to the Tate. There were many thousands taking part.

Rather than walking back to a Tube station I decided to walk eastwards and follow
[ 11-Mar - 2-May - 12-May ]
up on some points from my earlier walks around the City.

I walked down College Hill, along to Laurence Poultney Lane and found the curious object in the wall again.

I chose to go via Monument Station and its long pedestrian tunnel to Bank Station. This was even hotter than my Central Line journey - I should have gone via the surface, where is was sunny but a comfortable temperature. The train to London Bridge was even hotter.
[Back up past Wheatsheaf] I took the exit to Borough High St. again (10:20) and went down Stoney Street past Borough Market. this time noticing the Good Beer Guide pubs, the Wheatsheaf and the Market Porter. The area is threatened by Thameslink plans for a new viaduct. [Market Porter]
[London SE1 news article;
Save the Borough Market Area Campaign.]

In the archway under Southwark Bridge there was a busker with a lute in fifteenth(?) century dress, playing a more interesting selection of music than most.

In Tate Modern I looked around the shop before taking a lift to level 5. This time hardly anyone was using the lifts though there were plenty of people around.

The displays on this floor were less interesting, as I suspected, with some highlights such as a gallery devoted to Bridget Riley.

I left at 11:30 and again had a half of Young's Triple A in the Founders Arms (it now cost £1.13 - someone's cashing in on the Tate).

As the Millennium Bridge was about to open to the public, I made my way through the crowds to the entrance steps and slowly people shuffled on. The charity walkers had been using it in modest numbers all morning but suddenly at noon the bridge filled.
[On Sunday Police controlled access and on Monday evening the bridge closed for engineering studies by Arup. More...; Pics]
As I moved up the ramp, the bridge above was swaying a lot. Once I got on, it was just like being on a smallish ship in rough seas.

Contrary to the subsequent assertions of the engineers, the swaying of the bridge came first, seemingly caused by the natural movement of the bridge in response to the large numbers on it. As the swaying increased, people had to modify their gait to compensate. Walking in time with the movement became necessary when the swing became so great as to prevent progress otherwise. People did try to walk normally and only then switched to nautical mode.

I hadn't been on such a surface for abour 35 years but soon got the hang again of walking with splayed legs and then of timing my steps to match the movement. I only went as far as the first pier, mainly as the bridge was so full. As I came off the bridge, the charity people were preventing any more people going on and then controlled the numbers.

I walked back downriver and went into the Wheatsheaf. It's a charming little Victorian-style pub with a Lounge and Public bar, separated by a divider which can be folded away.
[Old London Bridge Brewery is at the corner of Park Street, in the former Bishops Brewery, opposite the Market Porter. Multimap]
The beers on the Lounge side were: Old London Bridge Brewery Gryphon of Gold (4%, £1.10/half), Forge Bitter, Milton Pegasus and Lidstone Rowley Mild. [Just like home!] Sandwiches were available. As I left at 12:55, Tom Wood's (aka Highwood) Old Timber came on.

I walked around towards Southwark Bridge and went in the Cathedral. I was surprised at how small it is, showing its heritage as a more modest church. Inevitably a Millennium revamp was in progress.

Next I tried to go to the London Dungeon (next to another exit from London Bridge Tube station) for the Great Fire of London exhibition but there was a long queue on the pavement, never mind inside.

Instead I decided to look for the Kirkaldy Testing Museum,
[Multimap - George Inn]
on the way passing the George Inn, the last galleried coaching inn in London, now owned by the National Trust.
[London SE1 review]

[George Inn]

The Kirkaldy was featured in the current series of Local Heroes (BBC2).
[ BBC Web sites: Local Heroes - David Kirkaldy;
The Kirkaldy Testing Museum]
The entrance to the Museum turned out to be round the back from no. 99 Southwark Street, in Prices Street, but there was no notice such as opening hours and all doors were shut. It turns out that it's just behind the Tate Modern, with Hopton Street and Sumner Street in between. [I got to see it another time.]

Rather than suffer a hot Tube journey I walked upriver along the river bank, along the Jubilee Walk to the Oxo Gallery to see the Millennium Bridge display and take pics of Gabriel's Wharf.

Next I wanted to take the Jubilee Line Extension to Canary Wharf to see Norman Foster's station. I couldn't find the JLE in Waterloo station so instead travelled to Elephant & Castle and then to London Bridge. There I changed to the Jubilee Line but there was a signals failure eastbound and no trains were moving in that direction, so I gave up and travelled west back to Waterloo, finding the Jubilee Line station is south-east of the main station. I walked there via the surface, discovering where the famous Hole in the Wall pub is after all these years (in the viaduct east of the main concourse).

Via the walkway towards the Shell Centre, I went back towards the river and rested on the grass of Jubilee Gardens for about an hour.

I travelled to Tottenham Court Road station at 16:10 and
walked up Tottenham Court Road a way and then along Oxford Street for a bit, turning down to Soho Square, Greek Street, Cambridge Circus, Charing Cross and arriving at Wyndham's Theatre at 16:35.
[Greek Street is for me associated with Hot Neon]

It's a wonderful old theatre, with funny little doors and staircases at the rear to loos and boxes. Of the 12 boxes, the top two were in use for lights. My seat was on the lower of the two cicles.

[I ordered my ticket via the Ticketmaster Web site and it arrived in a couple of days, with a bonus of a £3 Amazon voucher.]
The play Art was wonderful - a non-stop performance of Yasmina Reza's play by the three actors (Patrick Duffy, Paul Freeman, Richard Thomas) and all about the shifting relationships between three friends triggered by the purchase of an all-white canvas for FFr200,000. Sean Connery as co-producer helped to bring it to the London stage from Paris. [Next-but-one cast.]

My brother & partner met me afterwards and we walked through Leicester Square to their car. The area was full of lager-swilling types and the statue of William Hogarth in the north-east corner of the grassy centre now looks very out-of-place and forlorn.
[William Hogarth set up shop in the then-newish Leicester Square in 1733.
Sir Isaac Newton and Sir Joshua Reynolds also lived there.
Earlier comments on the Square...]

Travelling via Pall Mall, Hyde Park Corner and Edgeware Road, we arrived at the Czech emigré club in Hampstead, in West End Lane (off Kilburn High Road), on the bend before Compayne Gardens. It's a converted family house, set up at the start of WWII by refugee servicemen and now used mainly by visiting students. Our "intro" to this was my brother's partner being Czech. In the bar and lounge Euro2000 soccer was on the TV. We were able to get a table in the restaurant (the larger of the front rooms) after about 10 minutes' wait. I had the highly-recommended Svickova: meat in a delicious pale, rich, creamy sauce. Everything seemed to be served with small, high-quality dumplings! For pud I had Apple Strudel, which was distinctive and very tasty.

The Norman Foster Partnership in Battersea was having an open evening the following Friday so we agreed to meet up at the Old Father Thames again.

We returned to central London (for Kings Cross Station) by turning south and travelling along Abbey Road. Fortunately I twigged just in time that's what it was and at the far end spotted EMI's Abbey Road Studios, with the graffiti-strewn wall at its front. Just beyond is the famous zebra crossing.
[The studio is on the right (SW side) just before the end of Abbey Road, where it meets Hall Road. Lord's cricket ground is to the SE.]

I caught the 21:55 stopping train, returning at 22:55. It was full till Cambridge.


I realised I'd seen a large number of road diggings during the day, mainly for telecomms and gas.

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