Saturday, 14 May 2016

An old idea with a new twist - Elevated Walkways!

Artist's Impression of the proposed green space at St Alphage.
The City of London Pedway Scheme was a plan to transform traffic flows in the City of London by separating pedestrians from street level traffic using elevated walkways. First devised as part of the post World War II reconstruction plans for London, it was put into effect mainly from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s and eventually abandoned by the 1980s.  See Vimeo link for film 'The Pedway - Elevating London'

After World War II, during which London had suffered severe bomb damage. Enthusiasts for the scheme saw an opportunity to put it into practice through the post-war reconstruction programme, and in 1947 architect Charles Holden and planner William Holford developed a blueprint that envisaged a network of first-floor walkways that would connect buildings across the City.
By the mid-1960s, the City of London Corporation had incorporated the scheme into its development plan. Although no coherent network was ever defined, designers of new developments were required to incorporate first-floor access to the Pedway network as a condition of being granted planning consent. As most of the network had not been built, this meant that many developments incorporated wwith first-floor level and partial walkways that led to dead ends. In consequence, the scheme was unpopular with many architects.
By the mid-1980s, the scheme had effectively been discontinued. The Pedway scheme only succeeded in establishing itself in areas that required extensive post-war reconstruction. The most extensive part of the network to be completed was in the Barbican Estate and surrounding streets; the main entrance to the Museum of London is, to this day, at first-floor level.
The recently demolished pedways around Fore Street and St Alphage, although long-deserted in terms of commercial activity, were always useful and a pleasant alternative above the traffic of London Wall. We now know that the new development by Brookland includes a modern version of the pedway in the new build as well as extensive landscaping. Including the enhancement of and redesign of St Alphage Gardens. The David Hicks designed Salterers Garden will also be refreshed. The Salterers Hall by Basil Spence is dazzling after a recent makeover. 
A model is currently on display of London Wall Place (view by appointment) at the The City Centre, 80 Basinghall Street EC2V 5AR, and shows the new elevated walkways ('pedways') at London Wall with an interesting meander which will incorporate a 'green wall'.  Although the new building will block views from various points, the plus side is the pedways will be making a comeback and we can walk from Wood Street also from Aldermanbury Square, above ground, and work our way towards Moorgate above the traffic again! There is also a link back to the Barbican at Alban Gate.
Here are some pictures of the model.  I will leave you to have fun working out where they all lead to.

The ruins and Salterers Hall beyond - the meander! 

This joins the Barbican above 125 London Wall.

A garden wall will cascade from this - St Alphage is on the right.

Leading across London Wall towards Brewers Hall

See the Gallery at Brooklands web site:
The City Centre is worth a visit expecially for the wonderful model of the City Model. There are is some film to view as well as an exhibiton 'The City Garden' created by artist Rebecca Louise Law - installation of natural materials inspired by the gardens within the City, ends 25th September 2016.
Opening Times : The City Centre Gallery : Mon-Sat 10.00-17.00 
The City Model & Exhibition: Fri-Sat 10.00-17.00

Friday, 22 April 2016

Six Degrees of Separation – well almost!

‘Women Through Time Walk – Fleet Street Women’

My walks develop over time as I am sure happens with the majority of my guiding colleagues. Also as a City Guide the election of a new Lord Mayor adds a new dimension when moving from Westminster into the City at Fleet Street.

On leaving my first stop at the Royal Courts of Justice and moving toward the monument to Temple Bar that was (now located at Paternoster Square) I talk of our two lady Lord Mayors. On the last occasion of my Women of Fleet Street walk I also mentioned Alderman the Lord Mountevans (Jeffrey Evans) our latest incumbent. Usually I would leave it at that, as it is a walk about the women. However, when revising a walk it is easy to be distracted and I was, and followed his family history back to his grandfather.

Whereupon I discovered an unusual connection with my next stop, a talented sculptor, Kathleen, Lady Hilton Young (Baroness Kennet). This lady prior to being a ‘Lady’ and a Baroness was no less the wife of the intrepid explorer of Antarctica, Robert Falcon Scott. Kathleen travelled to New Zealand in February 1913 to reunite with Scott, only to discover her husband had died in March 1912!
Bust of Northcliffe sculpted by Kathleen Scott
Lieutenant Edward R G R Evans (later Admiral Lord Mountevans) the grandfather of our current Lord Mayor, joined the British National Antarctica Expedition (1901-04) as second-in-command to Scott. Unfortunately within 150 miles of the Pole, he had to turn back due to severe scurvy and just made it back alive to the supply ship.

 On recovery Evans returned to Antarctica in charge of the Terra Nova to pick up the expedition members, only to discover the Polar Party including Scott had perished.  He was now in command of the expedition and returned to Roath Dock in Cardiff on 14 June 1913.  A mountain with a double summit is named after Evans and he took his title Mountevans from that mountain.
Sadly no connection with the Lady Florence Dixie born of the Queensberry family who married into the Douglas-Dixie line, who led an impressive life of the rich and well-connected, and surprisingly, became a war correspondent, as well as a writer and a feminist, and led an extraordinary life. Lady Florence wrote for the Morning Post (acquired by the Daily Telegraph) and was their South African war correspondent in Zululand.

The connections? On my last walk with this theme, I had a lovely couple in the group, Mr & Mrs Hercules, who were fascinated with the name Dixie. It turns out that Mrs Hercules’ sister in Market Bosworth, Leicestershire, the family seat of the Douglas Family, works at Dixie Grammar School, which was re-founded in 1601 under the will of an Elizabethan merchant AND Lord Mayor of London, Sir Wolstan Dixie (1585).  So how do I round this off neatly?  Well, a distinguished headmaster of the school was Rev. Arthur Benoni Evans, sadly so far as I can tell no relation to the Mountevans above, but an Evans nonetheless!  However, another notable Fleet Street dweller, Dr Samuel Johnson, would shudder at the name of another Dixie, who he had the misfortune to work for, the 4th Baronet!

MissB will be walking with the Fleet Street ladies again on 30th April 2016 at 2pm.  

Monday, 29 February 2016

2 Willow Road - Winter Clean 2016

Erno Goldfinger's desk - Studio 2 Willow Road
I so enjoy guiding at the home of Erno Goldfinger that I really miss the house when it closes in November not to open agin in March the following year. So where there is a will, there is a way, you can go between times by volunteering to come in and help with the winter clean.

The house, once closed is systematically checked over, every nook and cranny, from top to bottom, from light switch to roof felt. The wear and tear of the floors, walls and doors are checked and logged The house is allowed a max of 10,000 footfall, and we often wonder about what we would do when we reached 10,001! 

Dining Room

The conservation staff at 2 Willow Road are mainly part-time so they have their work cut out.  It is a pleasure to help them.  Last time I was on cotton bud wielding, light switch duty. Painstaking and laborious, so hoped I would be on lighter duties this time. No pun intended.

To my delight I was given more archaic 'lights' to work on, the candelabra’s.The family heirlooms from Erno’s mother’s side to clean up. My initial instincts were to grab a bottle of silver cleaner, but of course this would not do for a museum piece. The candelabra are fragile and the worry is that bits might break or fall off.  The implements of choice are paint brushes. Hogs hair is stiff and used for the first once over, to remove dust and dirt. Then on to Pony Hair, softer and starts to clean and burnish the silver. Goats hair brushes are also used, particularly for textiles, books and paper.

Often when cleaning larger pieces chairs, book cases it is important to use a suction tube from a vacuum cleaner to suck up the dust you are removing so it does not contaminate other objects. Not essential for the candelabra but the little mats upon which they sat, need a vacuum to remove accumulated dust.

There is of course a special vacuum cleaner to use which has a piece of gauze or cheesecloth over the nozzle. You then place a mesh over the mats to work over, this stops any threads loose or embroidered being sucked away, or compromising the textiles.  

I was fascinated with these little squares of hand embroidery. They reminded me of Eastern European work I had seen on clothes, shawls and tablecloths during my time working with antique textiles.  I have a feeling they once were part of something larger, perhaps a huge tablecloth border and were then recycled as doiliesm, edged in blanket stitch. 

Here is a before and after, can you see the difference?  The circle is created by the base of the candelabra, and fading which has occurred over many years of being in the bright sunlight.

I was supervised by Jennifer who had been busy for many weeks cleaning the items on the windowsills of the dining room and studio. So many artefacts tenderly cleaned, the glassware with cotton buds. A labour of love.

My next job was in the kitchen, I done the clean out here last year.  I put on my vacuum backpack, Ghostbuster style and once the shelves were cleared sucked out any dust.  I photographed the shelves before emptying, but do sometimes end up with a tin wondering where on earth that went in the jigsaw of groceries. 

All dating back to 1991, some with the prices still on them, yes everything has doubled in price since then!  I also hasten to add, except for the bowl of ‘petrified’ Christmas pudding, all the tins are empty.  However, some of the sauces are still as they were, and Tomato Ketchup becomes HP Sauce colour if you keep it long enough, I can assure you no taste test made! 

On the same day a fellow guide, Anne, was carrying on with the task of logging all the books from the bookshelves.  Not as onerous as it might first seem.|In fact most diverting for all of us, as she discovered notes, bits of paper, book marks of interest, and signed copies. Also interesting to see the special packaging used for books that have lost their covers or are particularly fragile.

2 Willow Road is open again on 2nd March. Open Wednesday to Sunday.
Please check the National Trust Web Site for full opening times and guided tours. 
Non guided viewing commences at 3pm.

MissB will be Tour Guiding at Willow Road on: 
5th March, 19th March and 2nd April at 11am & 1pm
5th May 2pm
19th May 11am & 2pm
2nd June 11am & 2pm
30th June 2pm
On all the above dates, I will also be present for non-guided viewing from 3pm.

A shining candelabra!