Random thoughts from Pencefn

…. an engineer, singer and photographer living in Scotland


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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.

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


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Up the Tower

St Paul's Cathedral through the parapet of Southwark Cathedral tower.

St Paul's Cathedral through the parapet of Southwark Cathedral tower.


On 2 June 2011 – Ascension Day – I took the chance to ascend to the top of the tower of Southwark Cathedral to participate in the early morning service. After the service, there was a chance for some brief sightseeing.

To the north west, the Other Cathedral – St Paul’s Cathedral – could be seen. In the distance to the west was Victoria Tower (part of the Palace of Westminster) and the London Eye. To the south is The Razor, a new building at Elephant and Castle, closer to is the railway line into London Bridge, with the new Thameslink Viaduct still under construction. At London Bridge, the station is undergoing change, including the construction of The Shard, now the tallest building in the UK, and soon to be the tallest in Europe.

The North Transept of Southwark Cathedral with the Millennium Courtyard and Gary Weston library.

The North Transept of Southwark Cathedral with the Millennium Courtyard and Gary Weston library.


Around the North Transept could be seen the most recent addition to Southwark Cathedral – including the Gary Weston Library (with the Refectory beneath), the Millennium Courtyard and The Link – the glass roofed cloister which joins the old and new together.

  • More pictures from the top of Southwark Cathedral in my Smugmug gallery