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.
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.
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.