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A winter Saturday in London
A walk along The Strand, Southbank and Waterloo © urban75, Feb 2006

London's a fantastic city to walk around, with beautiful architecture, strange nooks and crannies and constant surprises on the way.

Here's my photo diary of a February walk around central London (all pics taken with a loaned Ricoh GR Digital camera).

At Trafalgar Square there was a lot of shouting and placard waving going on as Muslims demonstrated against the publication of the infamous 'cartoons'.

Disused Strand/Aldwych tube station on the Strand. Opening in 1907, the station closed in 1994 when the cost of replacing the lifts was deemed uneconomic.

The abandoned station has been used in a host of films and also features as a level in the video game, Tomb Raider 3.
» Aldwych tube station feature

Built on the site of an early seventeenth century windmill and then the location of the first Hackney Carriage stand in England (1634), the current building was erected between 1714 and 1717.

Designed by the architect James Gibbs, St. Mary le Strand was greatly admired for its beauty and delicacy.

Charles Dickens parents' John Dickens and Elizabeth Barrow were married at the church on June 13, 1809, and St. Mary-le-Strand is now the official church of the Women's Royal Naval Service, the Women's Royal Naval Reserve and the Association of Wrens
St Mary le Strand website


The beautiful interior of St Mary Le Strand. Sadly, the church now finds itself marooned on a busy traffic island on The Strand.
» St Mary le Strand website

Demolition work in progress on The Strand.

Surrey Steps used to connect to a steep and narrow thoroughfare from Temple Place towards the Strand, but both ends are now blocked off.

There's the early 19th century watch house of St Clement Danes at the northern end of the path, featuring an attractive overhanging wrought-iron balcony used by watchman to look out for body stealers in the graveyard.


The 'Roman' baths at 5 Strand Lane, WC2. An obscure National Trust property hidden away off the main drag, the baths that lurk behind the window are described by the NT as, "Remains of a bath - possibly Roman. Restored in the 17th century, believed to hold Roman origins."

Now generally accepted to be of Tudor origin, around 2000 gallons flow into the 15ft brick-built bath every day via a natural spring.

Charles Dickens cited the bath, writing that David Copperfield regularly plunged himself into its ice cold water at the start of the day.

» National Trust

Cabman's shelter, Temple Place WC2

Established in 1875 to offer shelter for the drivers of hansom cabs and hackney carriages (taxis), the Cabmen's Shelter Fund built sixty-one of these distinctive wooden shelters during Victoria's reign, at cost of around £200 each.

Just thirteen of these shelters still exist, and all are now Grade II listed buildings.

» Cabman's shelter feature


One of the best bits about walking around London is that you're constantly being surprised by strange bits of architecture and unusual details.

I must have walked down Victoria Embankment hundreds of times before I noticed that the bench ends had these mad camel designs, showing a seated camel with woolsacks and a neck tassel and floral detail picked out in gold.

Inside the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern, Rachel Whiteread
Inside the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern. This piece by Rachel Whiteread is entitled EMBANKMENT and made from 14,000 casts of the inside of different boxes, stacked high.

Inside the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern, Rachel Whiteread
What's it mean? Well, here's what the Tate website says, "The form of a cardboard box has been chosen because of its associations with the storage of intimate personal items and to invoke the sense of mystery surrounding ideas of what a sealed box might contain." Err, right. OK.

Browsers flip through the thousands of second hand books at the book stalls under Waterloo Bridge on the Southbank.
» See panorama


Regular Saturday afternoon Southbank buskers, the Portico Quartet in action.

Featuring a double bass, soprano sax and two drums called 'hangs', we liked them so much we booked them for our Offline Club.

The sun's going down on the Southbank and the temperature's getting chilly.

Time to head to the pub!


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