15 May 2011

A walk along London's South Bank

An after-work drink with a friend by London Bridge and a fine sunny evening combined nicely to conjure an unplanned but most welcome walk along London's South Bank to Waterloo.

The sun was rushing away at the time and stared right at me from low in the West sky as I walked towards it so I had to turn around and look back the other way whenever I wanted to take a picture.

Pausing frequently like that made it s long but rewarding work made only slightly disconcerting by following another suit wearing man doing the same thing. Synchronised photography?

There are many bridges across this stretch of the Thames as both cars and trains fight to bring people in to the heart of the capital.

Cannon Street Railway Bridge is clearly proud of what it is and strides across the Thames with bold confident steps.

Waiting for it on the far side are the two towers that herald Cannon Street Station and, taking advantage of this distraction, a rather good pub, The Banker, sits almost hidden between water and rails.

A little upstream is the newest bridge and one of the few that carries pedestrians only. The Millennium Bridge links St Paul's to the Tate Modern and so is a busy thoroughfare for tourists and is one of the reasons that the South Bank has opened up so much in recent years.

Most photos of the bridge that I have seen, including many that I have taken, contrast the modern bridge with St Paul's in the background so I've been a little perverse and chosen one that hides St Paul's. I think the bridge is more interesting anyway.

Next up is Blackfriars Bridge with the ever changing City behind it.

Here we do get to see the historical St Paul's as well as a few cranes that give evidence of the new buildings that are imposing themselves on the older buildings that were new once.

On the North Bank Blackfriars Station is being rebuilt and is currently closed. This provides another excellent excuse for walking rather than taking the tube.

Blackfriars is the last bridge before Waterloo, but it's not the last landmark.

The first building that you come to that forms part of the concrete delight of the South Bank Centre is IBM's main London office.

I worked there for a year or so back in the late 90s having previously been based at the bigger, more flamboyant, but less accessible office at Bedfont Lakes near Heathrow.

One of my abiding memories of working there is the noise from the recording of the Jerry Springer Show at LWT next door. I watched this sometimes at 2am, which seemed the right time of day to watch it, so it was a little weird to hear shouts of "Jerry! Jerry!" at 11am.

It's almost time to leave the riverside and head a little way south towards Waterloo Station but, before doing so, there is more of the South Bank Centre to enjoy.

I like all of the buildings in the complex, particularly the National Theatre, for the shapes they make on the skyline and also for the spaces in side but they are striking underneath too.

This section was colonised by skateboarders years ago and they now rule this place with confidence and grace.

And with that the journey ends. Waterloo is efficient but ugly, a place to pass through but not to linger. But that does not matter as the walk there has been a real joy. It always is.

1 comment:

  1. Love this walk! Impossible to do it without thinking of all the history underfoot. Used to walk from Waterloo to Southwark Bridge & from there to work in the City and then back every day some years ago. A lovely start to the day - and often a sociable finish, given the range of meeting venues en route.


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