Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Strand (Londonopoly #5)

Strand (note, not The Strand) runs from Trafalgar Square to Fleet Street, running up to the boundary of the City of London.

Strand forms part of an ancient road - it was part of the Roman road Akeman Street, and in 1002 was referred to as strondway. The word strand means shore, a reflection of the fact that this route was originally the north bank of the Thames.

There are at least three clocks on side roads just off Strand but I have not included them here as that would be cheating on the Londonopoly theme. I have included the clocks in the central courtyard of Somerset House on the Strand, but not the one in Charing Cross station (I never claimed to be consistent).

Also not included is Shell Mex House, which is technically on the Strand, but whose huge clock cannot be seen from this road.

First stop (and stopped it certainly is) is the Civil Service Supply Association Ltd clock.

It is a shame that this isn't working as it is one of my favourite London clocks because of its simple design, Arabic numerals rather than the all too common Roman ones, bright blue border, large size, and prominent position on a plain yet elegant wall.

Further down, on the same side of the road, is the Lyceum Tavern with its barrel clock.

A quick diversion into the entrance to the Somerset House courtyard, with its clock towers on the eastern and western blocks.

And now for two splendid churches, both now situated in traffic islands in the middle of the road. The first is St Mary le Strand. Completed in 1717, this church was designed by James Gibbs, who was also responsible for St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square.

The second church is St Clements Dane - Oranges and lemons say the bells of St Clement's (see Londonopoly #4). Incidentally the fruit connection of Strand is continued in the old music hall song "Let's All Go Down The Strand" with the memorable lines 'Let's all go down the Strand - Have a banana!'.

The church dates from 1680 and is by Sir Christopher Wren. However, if you thought that the tower looked similar to that of St Mary le Strand you would be right, as it is a later edition of 1720 by James Gibbs.

Finally, but most magnificently, is the clock on the Royal Courts of Justice.

It looks particularly good on a sunny day, but in any weather the ornamentation on this timepiece is superb.

This has to be in my top five of clocks in the country.

The building itself was opened by Queen Victoria in December 1882, and is often referred to as the last great Gothic public building in London. Some of the clocks inside the building are included in my posting of 29 September 2013.

So, time for the final Londonopoly reckoning. Excluding Somerset House, it is five clocks for £220 and hence £44 per clock.
Previous postings in this series:
Bond Street - 4 August 2013
Oxford Street - 30 November 2013
Regent Street - 4 January 2014
Trafalgar Square - 13 January 2013

Monday, 13 January 2014

Trafalgar Square (Londonopoly #4)

Trafalgar Square, heart of the empire, home of the National Gallery, a modern art showpiece on the "fourth plinth", Nelson's Column, Landseer's lions, the fountains and all that. Completed in 1844. And one of the red squares on out Londonopoly board.

The most obvious clock is that of St Martin-in-the-Fields. Long the site of religion, the current church was completed in 1726. The clock, and indeed the church as a whole, looks magnificent in the bright January sunshine (proving that it doesn't always rain in London and that fog is very rare, although it is always advisable to approach the locals by using the words gor blimey guvnor).

St Martins is of course the church whose bells say "you owe me five farthings" (although it could possibly be another St Martins), which I think is selling itself rather cheaply. If you are thinking "what is this loon talking about now?" you obviously need to research the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons (which come to think about it could be another theme for later postings on this blog).

On the south side of the square are two clocks on adjacent buildings. The first is on the Trafalgar Hotel, part of the Hilton chain but not wanting to boast about it.

Next door is the Canadian Pacific building, which was once the offices of a well known North American railway company whose name now escapes me.

The building has now been converted to luxury apartments.

And here is one of the new(ish) London buses. Nothing to do with clocks, but it is in Trafalgar Square and does look good.

Let's play Londonopoly. Total clocks = 3. Cost on the Londonopoly Board = £240. Hence £80 per clock.
Previous postings in this series:
Bond Street - 4 August 2013
Oxford Street - 30 November 2013
Regent Street - 4 January 2014

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Regent Street (Londonopoly #3)

Happy New Year to you all.

Time to complete the green set on that well known board game that we can't mention, but referred to here as Londonopoly. Hence, onwards to Regent Street on a grey, damp and windy day (4th January).

Regent Street is one of the few examples of grand urban street design in London. It has three sections - the main one that everyone thinks of as Regent Street is the grand curve of shops that stretches from Oxford Street to Piccadilly Circus, but there is also a northern section from Oxford Street to Langham Place (sadly for this posting stopping short of the clocks at All Souls church and Broadcasting House), and a southern section from Piccadilly Circus to Waterloo Place.

Despite its length, central London location, and obvious wealth, there is a paucity of clocks. The first of only two examples to be found is on the County Fire Office building which faces on to Piccadilly Circus.

The County Fire Office was founded in 1807 to provide fire insurance. It moved its premises to this site in 1819, although the offices themselves were re-built in the 1930s.

It is easy to miss the clock amongst all the hub bub of the Circus, with its busy traffic and attraction grabbers of the Eros statue and the giant electronic advertising hoardings.

The only other clock on Regent Street is just to the south at number 22.

This clock has always seemed to me to be a bit out of place, and most of the time does not appear to be working. It too was a bit lost on the day that the picture was taken, amongst the sale banners, Christmas decorations, and the scaffolding next door.

This clock is included in an excellent new book (December 2013) by Capital History Publishing entitled "London Clocks", and features photographs of over 100 clocks around the city (all of which and more will appear at some time in this blog!).
Playing Londonopoly, Regent Street has turned out to be a poor investment with only two clocks for the board price of £300, thus working out at £150 per clock.
Previous postings in the Londonopoly series:
Bond Street - 4 August 2013
Oxford Street - 30 November 2013