London: Twenty first century style

London

When I was five, and shortly after Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, my family moved from the rural North Riding of Yorkshire to London, where my Polish father had found work. What a grubby, shabby place it was. The war was long over, but still streets had jagged gaps in them, with piles of rubble on which hardy buddleia plants gamely tried to put on a floral show. It was a grimy and often unlovely experience.

Many years later, long since moved away from London, my visits there revealed a city that had thoroughly re-invented itself, while leaving plenty of traces of its history behind. And there’s no better place to inspect it than from a boat on the Thames, or by walking one of the many paths alongside the river. Come and visit twenty first century London with me for Sofia’s Lens-Artists Challenge – Urban Environments. I’ve shown quite a few of these photos in the past, but for me, they bring memories with them.

Thames Barrier, Woolwich.
‘Redoubt’ tugs cargo-laden barges down the Thames. The Thames is as much a busy highway as it ever was.
The Tower of London, with the now almost equally famous Gherkin behind.

The header photo is taken – not from the banks of the Thames – but from next to the Royal Greenwich Observatory and the Prime Meridian Line.

77 thoughts on “London: Twenty first century style

  1. But you’re a Yorkshire lass at heart! Nothing I like better than a stroll by the Thames, Margaret. You’re right- it has reinvented itself. Great photos! Cities with a river running through them always captivate me.

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  2. I have never liked London. My mum was from London and we used to go two or three times to visit my grandparents in the 1960s. I never liked it. In the 1970s sometime my grandparents moved to Rugby and I never had to go there again.

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      1. You’ve decided, so I’m not going to ne able to convince you. It’s not the Must See Tourist destinations, but the sights afforded from the Thames and the parks, the lesser known museums and attractions, and just discovering the very different communities. I’d know immediately if I were placed in London, even if I’d been blindfolded. Still, you’ve decided. Your loss.

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  3. Some days I really miss living in London and some I don’t. I think you have the best of both worlds living in Yorkshire, but with family to visit and stay with in town. My daughter does live in London and finally in a reasonable house-share, but not a place where a parent would stay!!!!

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    1. Haha… I just had to comment. My daughter moved around in several house shares in London when she was younger, mostly living with South Africans. I did stay overnight with her in one or two. Good job I am broadminded…

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      1. Actually up until Covid I have always stayed with her and my goodness there have been some serious dumps. One room in a shared house was the small attic room with the tiniest skylight (possibly the fire escape for any resident gnome) and when the Camden Council Rent Officer saw the size of the space he promptly issued the landlord with instructions to reduce the house occupancy number by one.

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      2. Dollis Hill and the Isle of Dogs were her worst, but she did end up in a rather lovely detached house in Surbiton before finding her own rented house. I rather liked visiting that one.

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  4. Ah, you’ve shown my home city off very well πŸ™‚ There’s little to beat a walk by the Thames, unless it’s a walk through the parks as we did earlier today (with a backdrop of cannons firing in Hyde Park for the procession down the Mall).

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  5. That London skyline has changed an awful lot over recent years. I’m not a huge fan of the city, but admit that there are some wonderful museums and parks and I am even considering a week there in the spring to visit them.

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  6. Love it, Margaret! I haven’t been to London for some years now – but will always love the city. Even if it changes all the time and now the Queen is not anymore. Love the Tower and the Gherkin…and your memories.

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  7. Interesting to see I’m not the only one not too keen on London. Maybe I was expecting more than I got when I was there. Loved the museums but the city left me cold. Your post, photos and memories, almost changed my mind, for they showed me a different city that I experienced. I’m sure I’ll go back one day and I hope to be pleasantly surprised.

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    1. I think London is a city best appreciated when you have time to explore its less ‘Top Ten Must See’ spectacles. Fossicking round old churches like Saint Bartholomew’s, or the old Smithfield Market, or visiting neighbourhoods such as Greenwich are far more rewarding in my opinion. I hope you’ll get the chance one day.

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  8. How wonderful to view the city from the river. I really enjoyed your photos. I wonder if I will ever visit London again. I was last there on a brief visit in the early 2000s (had time to visit the Greenwich Observatory btw), lived there for six months in the early 1980s, and for a time when I was a child in the 1960s. I still remember seeing the shells of bomb-damaged buildings in the St Paul’s Cathedral area in the early 1960s. I recall that as a young child I was fascinated at the discernable outlines of rooms (without roofs or floors) each with different paint or even still-existing wallpaper on what had been interior walls of double-story buildings that were then exposed to the elements as a result of the bombings. By then the worst of the rubble had been cleared up but some still remained even then.

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    1. Oh yes. I’d quite forgotten how it was still possible to see rosebud wallpaper sticking to the walls, and scraps and clues to lives once lived in those ruined places. It was the City area of London that seemed to take longest to get moving again -presumably because relatively few people lived there. Hard to remember that now!

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