Today was for meeting old friends. Helen had worked with Fiona in the late 70's (There seems to be a little dispute as to exactly when it was). It is about 15 years since we had seen her and a lot had happened for us all. We were meeting them at Charring Cross. I filled up with water before we left though.
I don't think I have taken a picture in the Tube before. I like the Tube. I'm not sure whether I would enjoy it so much if I had to travel during peak times, but even in this hot weather it is fine. I have been on underground system all over but In London there is a bit of grit to it all not all stainless steel etc.
We met up under the clock at Charing Cross Station and had no trouble recognising each other and walked down to the Embankment Gardens to sit and chat over a coffee there. We then went for a wander. We passed Cleopatra's Needle that was erected on the Embankment in 1878. It was the story of making an iron cylinder to encase the needle that was made like a ship to be towed back to the UK. All this was paid for by Sir William Wilson as the Government wouldn't pay even though the Ruler had given it to them to celebrate the Victories of Admiral Nelson and Sir Abercromby. It was the story of the loss of the tow of the needle the loss of a boat going to rescue the crew on the needle and subsequent recovery and delivery to London that may well have sparked the idea for me of going to sea. The sphinx's are not from 1450BC like the Needle but from Victoria times. They managed to get them the wrong way round as they are supposed to guard the Needle, facing out, but these are facing inward admiring it!
I loved this memorial to the Fleet Air Arm and when I read the list of battle honours I realised that my Dad had been there at many of the places. Only a generation past and there are monuments to their exploits.
The London Eye opened on 31st December 1999 for the Millennium. As I remember it was supposed to be taken down after a few years as just a Millennium project. It is still there and is a new and popular London landmark.
Further down the Embankment is the Battle of Britain memorial that was unveiled in 2005. It was the idea of Bill Bond, the founder of the Battle of Britain Historical Society and he managed to raise the £1.74 million cost. The sculpture was designed by Paul Day and is 82 ft long. The detail is superb and above is a bit of detail.
Sir Joseph Bazalgette was the Chief Engineer of the London Metropolitan Board of Works. He was srecommended for the job by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. In 1858 the Great Stink closed Parliament and this pushed Government to release money for a sewer system for London. Bazalgette designed 82 miles of underground brick sewers rather than the open channels on the streets that were there before. His main benefit to us that in his design he took the densest population and the most generous allowance for sewage created to come up with the required diameter of the sewers. he then thought that they would never get a chance to do it again so he doubled it. We are still using the majority of the system today. The Prince of Wales opened the system in 1865 but in reality it was a further ten years before it was fully completed. (There you narrow boaters always manage to get toilet talk in).
Bazalgette's other legacy is the Embankment itself. It was part of the sewer system as below the reclaimed land is the main sewer channel as well as the underground Tube line. He reclaimed 22 acres of land. In the Embankment Gardens is this watergate that was that for York House and obviously was on the Thames Bank. It is still in place and shows just how much land has been reclaimed.
There are loads of sculptures in the gardens and some of them are more interesting than others. I loved this one to the Camel Corp.
After our friends left for home we decided to walk back to the boat via Blackfriars. We passed 2 Temple Place just off the Embankment. I was intially taken by the gilded galleon as a weather vane. We then saw that the house was a fantastic building too. It turns out that it was built for William Waldorf Astor as a late Victoria London Mansion in 1892. It was completed in 1895 to the highest standards possible as Astor. We was very rich and was worried about his children being kidnapped. The house was to act as his office, a residential space for him and his family and a home for his art collection.
It is now managed by the Charity the Bulldog Trust that rent out spaces for events etc and the art collection is open for viewing too.
The Black Friar pub is on the site of a Friary and is a gem of a building with the interior being on the National Inventory of historical pub interiors. The pub was erected in 1875 and remodeled in 1905 in the current fashion. It is an Art Nouveau Grade II interior that is full of Arts and Crafts work by Henry Poole.
They also have a good choice of beer and I had a Roasted Rat and Warthog from the Triple FFF Brewery.
We walked to Kings Cross up Farringdon Road and passed under Holborn Viaduct that we had walked over last week. Farringdon Road is a very meaningful road in London as it was laid out between 1840 and 1860. It was one of the worlds first multi lane highway and also buried the River Fleet which started the drive to clean up the sewage system of London. Also below the road is the worlds first stretch of underground railway, that of the Metropolitan Railway from Kings Cross to Farringdon Station. The viaduct marks the start of the City of London boundary to the south.