Random thoughts from Pencefn

…. an engineer, singer and photographer living in Scotland

Post box wall


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The Postal Museum – 21 April 2018

Across the road from the Mount Pleasant postal depot is the Postal Museum. Also across the road from Mail Rail, it tells the story of the postal service in the UK.

There are a lot of exhibits, going back around 500 years. The first exhibits you come across are the wall boxes on the side of the courtyard.

Post box wall

Post box wall
21 April 2018

The London Ornate Box was a result of a competition. However the designers initially forgot to include a slot through which to post the letters.

London Ornate Box

London Ornate Box
21 April 2018

An Air Mail Pillar box was painted blue and had two plates with details of collection times and charges.

Air Mail Pillar Box

Air Mail Pillar Box
21 April 2018

Air Mail Box information plate

Air Mail Box information plate
21 April 2018

There are a number of postal delivery exhibits, including a Post Bus used in rural areas.

Post Bus at The Postal Museum

Post Bus at The Postal Museum
21 April 2018

Combined with Mail Rail, this is well worth a vist, and is located only a short walk from Farringdon and Kings Cross stations.

Battlebridge Basin


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London Canal Museum – 21 April 2018

Located to the east of Kings Cross station is the London Canal Museum, situated in the Gatti’s Ice House at Battlebridge Basin off the Regents Canal.

Battlebridge Basin information board.

Battlebridge Basin information board.
21 April 2018

The main entrance is where the ice carts would leave to deliver their supplies around London. THe ice would arrive by canal and be stored in the the ice pit.

Model of an Ice Cart

Model of an Ice Cart
21 April 2018

Acknowledging the storage of ice, an ice cream bicycle is displayed close to the entrance.

Ice Cream Bicycle

Ice Cream Bicycle
21 April 2018

The building was constructed with a ramp to the up level, which was used as a stable. An example stall is shown upstairs.

Example horse stall

Example horse stall
21 April 2018

The museum shows the development of canal transport. On the ground floor, there is the narrowboat Coronis, an example of a butty, which would be paired and towed by a powered boat.

Narrowboat Coronis

Narrowboat Coronis
21 April 2018

Outside in the basin, is the museum’s pusher tug, Bantam. Built in 1949-50 it propelled, rather than towed other boats.

Push Tug Bantam

Push Tug Bantam
21 April 2018

Mount Pleasant Track Diagram


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Mail Rail – 21 April 2018

Any visitor to London will come across the Tube, the underground railway of London. However from 1927 to 2003 there was an underground railway running from Whitechapel in east London to Paddington in the west which carried no passenger. It carried London’s mail on its 2ft (607mm) gauge system.

Although built to provide a means to avoid London’s congested streets, latterly the Post Office identified is cost several times more to operate than using road transport. Ultimately it closed at the end of March 2003.

Tourist train heading into the tunnels

Tourist train heading into the tunnels
21 April 2018

The infrastructure has not been dismantled, and much of the rolling stock is still on the system.

Train graveyard at Mount Pleasant

Train graveyard at Mount Pleasant
21 April 2018

Mail Rail is based around the old maintenance depot at Mount Pleasant. In the area where the trains used to be maintained, various exhibits are provided showing the development of the London Postal Railway, and also other railway mail exhibits, including the mail pouches that were picked up and dropped off by trains on the move.

Mail pouches ready to be picked up

Mail pouches ready to be picked up
21 April 2018

Two specially built battery powered passenger trains have been constructed for Mail Rail, Leaving the maintenance area, then head down the access tunnel to the main network as Mount Pleasant station. During the journey a series of stories are told. Reaching the eastbound platform of Mount Pleasant station, the first of a video displays is shown.

Mail Rail video display

Mail Rail video display
21 April 2018

On the non-platform line, there is an example train parked.

Postal Railway Train at Mount Pleasant

Postal Railway Train at Mount Pleasant
21 June 2018

Leaving the platform, the train takes the turnback line, passing over the ghost train lines before heading towards the westbound platform. This time, the train stops in the passing line whilst another mail story is told in sound and pictures.

The story of a letter

The story of a letter
21 April 2018

The journey is almost complete. There are three routes from the westbound platfrom, west to New Oxford Street, onto the loop to the eastbound platform or up into the maintenance depot. As we returning to our starting point it is the latter route that is taken.

The journey ends and there is a further chance to see the various displays, and to buy souvenirs from the shop. Across the road is the Postal Museum. That is a story for another time.

Tower of London at Night


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London South Bank – 13 January 2018

As well as exploring More London and Borough Market, we followed the Jubilee Walkway westwards along the south bank of the Thames to the Royal Festival Hall before getting the Thames Clipper back to Bankside and the Globe. Later in the evening, we heading back through More London to St Katharine Dock to an evening meal.

Leaving Borough Market, we returned to the walkway along the Thames, passing The Globe to reach Tate Modern. Tate Modern was built as Bankside Power Station. This ceased generating in 1981. The building was redeveloped and opened as a gallery in 2000, with an extension opening in 2016.

Tate Modern Chimney

Tate Modern Chimney
13 January 2018

A feature of the South Bank is street entertainers, and this particular walk was no different.

Street Entertainment on South Bank

Street Entertainment on South Bank
13 January 2018

From the South Bank sights on the north of the Thames in the Cities of London and Westminster are visible.

St Paul's Cathedral from South Bank

St Paul’s Cathedral from South Bank
13 January 2018

BT Tower and Cranes from South Bank

BT Tower and Cranes from South Bank
13 January 2018

As the tide was out, we noted birds on the tide line, including a number of geese at Gabriel’s Pier near the Oxo Building. On this occaision there were no sand sculptures to photograph.

Goose near Gabriel's Pier

Goose near Gabriel’s Pier
13 January 2018

Reaching the Royal Festival Hall, we stopped for a hot drink and cake at Le Pain Quotidien. The chocolate muffin was delicious.

Chocolate Muffin at Le Pain Quotidien 13 January 2018

Chocolate Muffin at Le Pain Quotidien
13 January 2018

After refreshment, we decided to head back to our hotel in Southwark and we elected to take the Thames Clipper from the London Eye (which was closed for maintenance) to Bankside.

Meteor Clipper leaving Bankside Pier.

Meteor Clipper leaving Bankside Pier.
13 January 2018

Walking back along Southwark Bridge Road we noted The Shard in the dusk as we passed the Financial Times building, near the site of the original Globe.

The Shard at dusk from Southwark Bridge Road.

The Shard at dusk from Southwark Bridge Road.
13 January 2018

Later in the evening, we headed to St Katharine Dock for an evening meal. As earlier in the day we headed through More London picking up floodlit views of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

Floodlit Tower Bridge

Floodlit Tower Bridge
13 January 2018

Returning from our meal, crossing over Tower Bridge we saw the lit-up Shard across the Thames.

Night Time Shard from Tower Bridge

Night Time Shard from Tower Bridge
13 January 2018

Once across Tower Bridge, we followed More London Place down to London Bridge station, with The Shard in front of us. Walking through the new ticket hall of London Bridge Station to St Thomas Street, we passed Guy’s Hospital and onto Southwark Street and back to our hotel.

Borough Market


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Borough Market – 13 January 2018

Just over seven years I published a blog on Borough Market. At that point I was still discovering the area around Southwark Cathedral, The Shard was still under construction and the Thameslink expansion to London Bridge Station and associated viaduct through Borough Market was still in progress.

Borough Market and The Shard

Borough Market and The Shard
13 November 2010

Borough Market and The Shard

Borough Market and The Shard
13 January 2018

We entered Borough Market from Borough High Street and the first thing you sense is the various smells from the many stalls. All lot of them we selling food on the go.

Greedy Goat at Borough Market

Greedy Goat at Borough Market
13 January 2018

To the other areas of Borough Market.

To the other areas of Borough Market.
13 January 2018

Heading across Cathedral Street, there is the Beard Ahead Bakery, which includes a Baking School.

Bread Ahead Bakery

Bread Ahead Bakery
13 January 2018

Into the western side of the market, there are many other stalls.

Borough Market

Borough Market
13 January 2018

Leaving Borough Market via Park Street, there are many eateries, including The Market Porter, Little Dorritt and this one, German Deli.

German Deli in Park Street

German Deli in Park Street
13 January 2018

Once underneath the railway viaduct, there is a memorial to an International Incident that occured in 1850.

International Incident in Park Street

International Incident in Park Street
13 January 2018

The Austrian General, Julius Jacob von Haynau, whilst on a brewery tour of Bankside, was chased from Borough Market local residents, workers and the brewery drayman. In Park Street he was flogged by the mob and had manure and dirt thrown over him. Allegedly an attempt was made to cut his moustache off.

Plaque of More London


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More London – 13 January 2018

Our first visit to London in 2018, was in mid January. We stayed in one of the hotels we regularly stay in in London, the Novotel in Southwark Bridge Road. We booked in late November 2017, taking advantage of the “Black Friday” savings.

On the Saturday of our visit, we started by walking to More London. Walking up Southwark Bridge Road to Southwark Bridge, we joined the Jubilee Walkway along the Thames heading east.

Typhoon Clipper heading east at Cannon Street Railway Bridge

Typhoon Clipper heading east at Cannon Street Railway Bridge
13 January 2018

Having passed under the approach viaduct to Cannon Street railway station, we followed Clink Street to Southwark Cathedral and onto Montague Street.

The Mudlark in Montague Street.

The Mudlark in Montague Street.
13 January 2018

The Mudlark dates from the 1700s and is named after the people who used to search through the mud at the edge of the Thames to collect items which could be sold and hence they could make a living. Across the street from the Mudlark, is the Glazers’ Guild house, one of the ancient guilds of the City of London (which is across London Bridge). The Guild of Scientific Instrument Makers also are based in the same building.

Before passing under the approach to London Bridge, there is a set of steps from Montague Street up to London Bridge, called Nancy’s Steps, named after the character in Charles Dickens’ novel “Oliver”. Passing under London Bridge, the street changes name to Tooley Street. On the left side is St Olaf House, with an image of St Olave, King of Norway on the corner.

The corner of St Olaf's House

The corner of St Olaf’s House
13 January 2018

Walking through Hays Galleria, we came out onto the edge of the Thames. Initially the first thing that is seen on the river is HMS Belfast.

HMS Belfast

HMS Belfast
13 January 2018

Passing HMS Belfast, Tower Bridge comes into view.

Tower Bridge from More London

Tower Bridge from More London
13 January 2018

Turning away from the river, City Hall – home to the Mayor of London – is seen. In this area is a series of art installations called Full Stops, by Fiona Banner.

City Hall, with "Full Stop Slipstream"

City Hall, with “Full Stop Slipstream”
13 January 2018

The five “Full Stops” are based on various typographical fonts – ‘Slipstream’, ‘Optical’, ‘Courier’, ‘Klang’ and ‘Nuptail’. All are finished in high gloss black.

As you leave More London, heading towards London Bridge Station, there is a small stream which flows down towards Tooley Street.

Stream in More London Place

Stream in More London Place
13 January 2018

Looking back, Tower Bridge can been seen, and looking through the gaps in the buildings is the Tower of London.

Tower of London from More London

Tower of London from More London
13 January 2018

In More London Place, there is a selection of places to eat, or buy food to take away. At the end of more London Place, across Tooley Street is London Bridge Station. As a result of recent development of the station, there is an entrance here which takes you to the ticket office, and escalators to platform level. Walking through the station takes you to St Thomas Street and Guys Hospital.


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London Bridge – 3 June 2017

A lot will be written and speculated about what happened and the causes of the events on London Bridge, outside Southwark Cathedral and in Borough Market just after 10pm on Saturday 3 June 2017. I do not intend to do that, however I do intend to reflect on two impressions of London at its best, firstly in the London Bridge Hotel, and secondly a Metropolitan Police Officer.

If you have followed this blog (and the associated Smugmug and Blipfoto galleries) you will know that London Bridge, The Shard and Southwark Cathedral feature from time to time.

So on Saturday 3 June, we went on another of our Cathedral visits, returning to London Kings Cross at around 9:45pm. Taking the Northern line to London Bridge we came up the escalator by the News UK building opposite our hotel – The London Bridge Hotel – outside the upper concourse of London Bridge railway station at around 10:10pm. Looking down London Bridge Street we saw blue flashing lights and commotion, however thought nothing of it as it was Saturday night on Borough High Street.

However as the night unfolded we realised how close we were to a Major Incident, and that we were trapped inside the security cordon with the hotel under Lockdown.

In the morning we watched out of our hotel as the police escorted News UK personnel from their building to outside the cordon. We decided to find out what was happening in the hotel. The Night Manager was still on duty and some of the resturant staff were still in from the previous night. The Day Manager and the breakfast team were unable to get in. In addition, quite a lot of the hotel guests had not been able to get back the previous night. The Night Manager organised what staff she had available to provide a breakfast service. She was in contact with the Metropolitan Police and in a controlled manner, with armed police escort, guests were able to leave the hotel.

So at 10:30am we presented ourselves at reception and checked-out to await an escort away. Our police escort, who we only know as “Rocky”, was good humoured given the circumstances and took across the front of the upper concourse of London Bridge railway station. For one of the busiest stations in the UK, it was surreal in that is was deserted. At this point I felt it prudent to keep my camera in its bag. We then went down the escalator to Tooley Street, and east to the cordon by More London Place. We thanked him and passing through the line of TV cameras, we headed up More London Place towards Tower Bridge, where we saw the Tower of London with its flag at half mast.

Tower of London with flag at half mast

Tower of London with flag at half mast
4 June 2017

Given the road closures and (unrelated) tube closures, the easiest tube station to head for was Aldgate, at the eastern end of the Metropolitan Line to get us to Euston.

Crossing Tower Bridge, we looked back at London Bridge, with buses still where they stopped the previous night, and The Shard.

The Shard and London Bridge

The Shard and London Bridge
4 June 2017

We had intended to go to Southwark Cathedral for the Sunday morning Pentecost service, however it was closed, and at the time of writing (on the evening of Monday 5 June), it is still closed with Tuesday morning services to be held at the nearby St Hughs. As various friends in the congregation and staff (clergy & vergers) knew we were in London and expected to see them on the Sunday morning, we had made sure they knew we were safely away from the cordon and on our train home from Euston.

We will be visiting London again in the near future, and will be using the London Bridge Hotel.

Ship of Dreams


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BFG Dream Jar Trail – 16 July 2016

On the weekend of 16/17 July 2016, the world premiere of the BFG Movie took place, which marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of the BFG Creator Roald Dhal. As part of this a BFG Dream Jar Trail has been set up. Around half of the jars were on display in London, with the majority at Leicester Square.

As with the Shaun in the City trails last year, we started at The Shard.

Up, Up and away at The Shard

Up, Up and away at The Shard
16 July 2016

There were two dream jars by City Hall at More London; the Open Dream suggested by Justin Rose (who was playing in the Open Championship in Royal Troon that weekend) and For the Love of the Hedgehog

The Open Dream

The Open Dream
16 July 2016

For the Love of the Hedgehog

For the Love of the Hedgehog
16 July 2016

As some had not yet been located, and those which had had been moved to Leicester Square for the weekend, we heading west along the south of the Thames to Tate Modern, where we crossed the Millennium Bridge. Heading up to the museum of London we found another Dream Jar – A Whale’s Tail

A Whale's Tail

A Whale’s Tail
16 July 2016

It was then a walk from the relatively quiet weekend City of London to a very busy City of Westminster where we found two dream jars around Covent Garden before reaching the display in the centre of Leicester Square.

Dream Jars on display in Leicester Square

Dream Jars on display in Leicester Square
16 July 2016

This was part of a larger feature in the square marking the premiere of the film later in the weekend.

BFG display in Leicester Square

BFG display in Leicester Square
16 July 2016

The Dream Jars will be on display until 31 August 2016, after which they will be auctioned off in aid of Save the Children and Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity.

Detail at bottom of lamp standard


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Holborn Viaduct – 16 July 2016

During a recent visit to London, our walk took us over Holborn Viaduct. A few years ago whilst we had a flat in London, we had occasion to drive under the viaduct on Farringdon Street on Christmas Day.

The viaduct was built in the 1860s to span the valley of the Fleet River crossing Farringdon Street and the subterranean river (which had been placed in a tunnel in the eighteenth century).

A feature on the parapets are sculptures by Farmer and Brindley, and Henry Bursill.

Winged Lion on Holborn Viaduct

Winged Lion on Holborn Viaduct
16 July 2016

Farmer and Brindley produced the winged lions and the figures – Science and Fine Arts – on the north side.

Science on the North Parapet

Science on the North Parapet
16 July 2016

Bursill provided the figures – Commerce and Agriculture – on the south side.

Commerce on south parapet of Holborn Viaduct

Commerce on south parapet of Holborn Viaduct
16 July 2016

Iconic transport associated with London was seen crossing the bridge, including a preserved Routemaster bus that had been hired for a wedding.

London Black Cab and Routemaster Bus approaching Holborn Viaduct.

London Black Cab and Routemaster Bus approaching Holborn Viaduct.
16 July 2016

The nearby Holborn viaduct Station, which had platforms at the same level as the street was closed in 1990 to be replaced with City Thameslink which is located underground linking Brlackfriars and Farringdon stations.

Red Cross Garden


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Red Cross Garden, Southwark – 8 May 2016

Back in May on a sunny weekend, we found ourselves in a quiet oasis in Southwark. In 1887 on the site of a burnt out paper factory, the Red Cross Garden was laid out.

Red Cross Garden notice board

Red Cross Garden notice board
8 May 2016

Octavia Hill established the garden as a shared community space in 1887/8.

Blue plaque for Octavia Hill

Blue plaque for Octavia Hill
8 May 2016

The garden is managed by Bankside Open Spaces Trust.

Pond in Red Cross Garden.

Pond in Red Cross Garden.
8 May 2016

In the mid 20th century, the garden was mainly grass and tarmac, however the Bankside Open Spaces Trust with Lottery funding restored the garden, including some of the original features. The Princess Royal officially re-opened the garden on 1 June 2006.

Housing on west side

Housing on west side
8 May 2016