Monday, 9 November 2015

Tulse Hill to Gypsy Hill

Another random walk around London, this time starting from Tulse Hill. Don't get excited though - this is a long walk without many clocks. It is alright for you. You can quickly scroll through or move on. I had to walk this. All of this. And then write something, which you probably won't read as you have already moved on to some other more exciting blog. Or then again I might be tricking you, hiding some gem of a clock or some fantastic prose. So ask yourself, do you feel lucky. Well do ya?

Tulse Hill is an horological desert. Might as well stay on the train. West Norwood is where the tick tock action is. Ok, actually there is one clock on the impressive St Luke's church.

The church was designed in 1822, with the foundation stone being laid in 1823, and consecration of the completed building following on the 25 July 1825. Time moves on, but for the clock it seems to have stopped at 12.39.

A long trek follows with not a clock in sight, until a diversion into Westow Street in Gypsy Hill.

This is Foresters hall, of which I know nothing about.

Our final clock of this walk (I told you there weren't many) is Christ Church, Gypsy Hill.

The church, consecrated in 1867, was badly damaged by fire in 1987.

So you felt lucky did you?

Monday, 26 October 2015

In search of a chip shop

I suppose I had better explain. The V&A has an exhibition called The Tower of Babel, by an artist called Barnaby Barford. In short, he has cycled around London photographing clocks, getting the photos made into china models, and then creating a tower (see below).

If we want to see it you need to get a wiggle on as it closes on 1 November.

 Each of the model shops in the tower are available for sale, so I thought I would buy one. And as I also photograph fish and chip shop signs, I decided to buy the one below.

So I thought it only right and proper to visit the actual shop, which according to the V&A website is at 316 Lee High Road. Which meant a trip down to Lewisham.

The first task on arriving at Lewisham station was to find the right road to head down. Probably no easy task at the best of times as this part of town is dominated by a traffic gyratory system, but made worst by said gyratory being dug up, making pedestrian routes tortuous and confused, and with visibility reduced by the onset of rain.
So a quick visit to the Lewisham Shopping Centre was called for, which was rewarded by the sight of this clock.

I like this clock because of its simple honesty, a design that fits well with the shopping centre. Too many of these modern mall have retro clocks (usually Victorian) rather than being brave and going with the contemporary. So well done Lewisham Shopping Centre, and well done to the security guards who happily gave me permission to take photos.

A bit of internet research reveals there was once a clock which was linked to a series of models of local characters who came out from behind doors on the hour. From the comments on the Transpontine blog ( it seems that was in equal measure fascinating and scary to young children. the current clock is probably neither.
Outside it was still raining, but I needed to press on. Amongst the jumble of market stalls, shops, people and rain, you can see the Lewisham clock tower which stands on the junction with Lewisham High Street and Lee High Road.

The tower is one of many similar ones erected around the country to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. The tower, constructed of Portland stone, was listed in 1973.

And the good old internet research shows that the excellent Caroline's Miscellany blog ( got here first in November 2009.

After the tower, the clock hunting took a turn for the worst. The Dirty South building along Lee High Road does indeed have a clock, but it was largely obscured by scaffolding.

But this disappointment is made up by crossing the Greenwich Meridian, as this plaque in the pavement testifies.

A bit further along you can glimpse a clock on a building set back a long way from the road. This provided a lesson in how not to take photographs at distant buildings through a chain link fence in the pouring rain, as illustrated by these blurred pictures.

The building turns out to be the Merchant Taylor's alms houses.

And so on to the chip shop. The shop frontage on the model is clearly an as - is photograph, but a great deal of liberties have been taken with the rest of the building.

But hey, get on down there (316 Lee High Road) and buy some fish and chips.

And finally, a bit further on and left at the junction with The Old Tigers Head and The New Tigers Head pubs, Lee Road leads you to  what is now blackheath interiors, but was once Ron Pemberton insurance brokers.

I love this clock and its old fashion sign.


Sunday, 6 September 2015

Bethnal Green to Shoreditch

This is the route I was going to cover two weeks ago, but abandoned the walk as it was too hot. Today was about 15 degrees cooler and decidedly autumnal, so much better for tramping the streets of London.

Only just south of my wimp out point last time is this corner building, Morrain House. In the way that bizarre occurrences happen, I had also spotted this clock from the train window the following week, giving me the impetus to pick up again from where I had left off.

The building is on the junction of Cambridge Heath Road and Three Colts Lane. I have no further information on it, other than it looks like it is currently unoccupied.

It is therefore no great surprise that the time seems to be permanently 12.29.

Just around the corner is another clock which I have seen over many years from the train window, but it has always looked out of bounds. However, there has been recent regeneration activity which meant it was worth checking out on the ground.

The building is the old Allen & Hanburys Ltd pharmaceutical factory / offices, with the name still emblazoned in big letters. The building dates from 1874. The company was taken over by Glaxo (now GSK) in 1958, but the trading name was kept until recently (as witnessed by my asthma inhalers).

The site is now known as the Pill Box, and is protected by nasty security-coded gates. So the pictures of the clock are taken from a distance unfortunately

But at least the clock has been restored - in all the years viewing from the train it had seemed to be in a semi-derelict condition.

We are now on Bethnal Green Road, with this mixed-use building and its single hand clock.

On the opposite side of the road is W. English & Son, funeral directors.

Sometimes in clock hunting you just have to follow your nose, trust your gut instinct or just walk around and see what turns up. The next building was a result of a sign pointing along a side road to St Peters. Ah, a church, which means a possibility of a clock I thought. Well I didn't find the church, but I did find the Queen Adelaide's Dispensary on Pollard Row.

And looking up at the tower, I thought that is odd stonework. Looks a bit like an old coin.

When in reality it is a carved stone clock face (or rather three of them), sadly without hands.

The Queen Adelaide's Dispensary was founded by the vicar of St James-the-Less in 1849, although the current building dates from 1866. As are most buildings these days, it has now been converted into flats.

Queen Adelaide (that's a bust of her below) was born in 1792 and died in 1849 (hence I assume why the institution was named after her), and was the Queen Consort of William IV.

Opposite is what I assume is meant to be a Banksy, somewhat worse for wear and covered by a sheet of Perspex. It is not a patch on the elegance of the carved clock faces. I would love to know what the hands were like as I am sure this was a truly special clock in its day.

On the corner of the building is a foundation stone, with that Hanbury name again.

Whilst I followed my nose to discover the Queen Adelaide's Dispensary, I made the decision not to follow the sign to St Matthews's church. Which was a mistake as subsequent research shows that it has a clock. Yet another visit required sometime.
Bethnal Green Road has a lot of pubs, many still open, others with their original frontages complete with signs but now used for other purposes, and I suspect a few others that are now less obvious. A good road for anyone interested in pub architecture and social history.
Anyway, this is a blog about clocks, so westwards towards Shoreditch until we reach Peach Properties.

Bethnal Green Road eventually ends at Great Eastern Street, where this building is currently under wraps.

Will a clock be revealed when the scaffolding comes down?

Southwards takes you into Commercial Street, and The Exchange building. Built in 1900 - 1910, it was originally a telephone exchange, hence the name.

And finally, we reach this building on Bishopsgate, by the side of Liverpool Street station.