Friday, 7 August 2015

An East London Walk

One of the (many) great things about London is that a walk of any reasonable distance will yield sightings of at least one or two clocks.

Today's stroll is from Highbury and Islington station to Liverpool Street, via the Kingsland Road (which forms part of the A10 between the Monument and Kings Lynn). Our journey starts on numerically superior A1199, aka St Paul's Road, where the following building can be found at the junction with Essex Road.

This you would rightly surmise as being St Paul's church. Or indeed wrongly surmise as the passage of time has seen this edifice morph into becoming the St Paul's Steiner school.

The church, now a Grade II* listed building, was designed by Charles Barry and completed in 1828. It subsequently became redundant in 1980, and remained unused for many years before being taken over by the Steiner School project.

Incidentally, before the building of the church, the road was known as Hopping Lane.

Ok, we are now heading south towards the metropolitan centre on the Kingsland Road. More specifically, 520 - 522 Kingsland Road, the home of William Gee Ltd. the company, established in 1906, is described on its website as the "leading stockist and distributor of textile trimmings and haberdashery products in the UK". I have always loved the word haberdashery, so any company in the trade which has a clock outside their premises gets my vote.

Just a shame the clock is not working (a phrase I unfortunately have to use all too often in this blog).

Moving south, this industrial building is set just off the main road.

The clock is now in a poor state, but its substantial nature suggests that this was home to an important company. Does anybody know anything about this building?

A few doors down at the junction with Englefield Road we come across a very interesting clock.

This KTS The Corner, aka T J O'Kane Builders. Its three-faced clock has various bits of building kit instead of numerals, with a different set on each face. This is certainly something different.

Strolling every southwards along Kingsland Road, a church clock down a side road catches my eye.

Closer inspection reveals a completely different world to the busy and commercial Kingsland Road, this world being De Beauvoir Town which was built as a model village in the 1840s (that is model as in blueprint or exemplar rather than a scaled down version of real life - it would have been rather scary if I had suddenly become a giant). Incidentally I have just finished reading a book called "Dreamstreets - A journey through Britain's village utopias" by Jacqueline Yallop, which covers these model villages, but not De Beauvoir Town.

The church is the wonderfully titled St Peter De Beauvoir Town, completed in 1841.

Southwards, ever southwards, as the Kingsland Road continues to throw up all sorts of delightful surprises. One of its gems is undoubtedly the Geffrye Museum, which "explores the home from 1600 to the present day". Entry to this oasis of tranquillity is free. So pay a visit now (but please leave a donation).

The Geffrye also has an excellent café which provided much needed refreshment on my walk. Coffee and chocolate cake in a cool, quiet café, the sun shining, a gentle breeze playing softly round the tables, reading the newspaper, the murmur of other people's conversations - ah, paradise in Hoxton.

Refreshed, it is time to march on. The next find is St Leonard's church, at the point where Kingslands Road become Shoreditch High Street.

St Leonards was opened in August 1740. it has a 192 feet tall steeple, and was the first London church to be lit by gaslight (in 1817). It is also one of the members of the Oranges and Lemons gang - "When I grow rich, say the bells of Shoreditch".

It is also unusual in that it has a clock over its main entrance (as shown above), and also one on its tower (partially obscured by the trees).

And a different style of clock face on its southern aspect:

It's 12 o'clock and coming up for lunchtime, but on Shoreditch High Street it is Time for Tea.

Although actually no time at all, when you have a clock with no hands.

Time for Tea is "a five story event space and location hire on Shoreditch High Street which specialises in period production between 1939 - 1959" (which is surely supper time!).

Its neighbour is the Ace Hotel at 100 Shoreditch High Street - for no good reason I seem to be compelled to type Shoreditch High Street.

We are now getting near the end of our journey. But another interesting clock on a building I know nothing about.

And then a quick glance to the left reveals a distance view of Hawksmoor's Christ Church.

Another glance to the left along Middlesex Street gives us the Astral House clock.

And then we are finally at out destination, Liverpool Street station.

Ah, but wait. just to the south we can also see the clock on St Botolph.

But now let's finish our walk, and catch the train at Liverpool Street.

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