Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Ghosts of London's past
The very obvious difference between the cities I recently visited in America and London is age. Although London is quite trendy with some extraordinary modern architecture and design, these newbies have to nestle among buildings that represent every period, style and fad of the past 2000 years. As you walk around, you catch little glimpses of the past in the form of old buildings in odd places and ex-train stations and chapels. And, if you look up, you'll always be surprised. My old art teacher - an inspirational and hugely supportive little chap called Arthur Andrews to whom I owe much of my sense of wonder and love of art - was always saying, 'Look up dear boy, look up! There are hidden treasures above us all that most people, sadly, never see'. And he was right. We don't look up - which is why the goodie is always able to hide in the roofbeams from the baddies in films. Quite apart from the enormous population of rooftop statues in London, there are al manner of plaques, inscriptions, dedications and bas reliefs to be seen if you just look up.
This little batch of photos is the result of just one day's walking around London. They are a dedication plaque on the external wall of St Marylebone's School, the ancient George pub off Borough High Street (a quite odd mix of the old 16th century pub and modern offices. The pub is so old that the front door is about a foot below modern pavement level), Spitfire Studios near Kings Cross, a Tudor town house near St Bartholemew's Hospital, the ex-NorthMet power and light factory in Wood Green, T G Lyne's old television and radio store in Kings Cross, what was the Henry Heath hat factory off Oxford Street and the now long-defunct Brompton Road Tube Station.