Posts Tagged ‘highwalks’

More Around the City

Tuesday, March 16th, 2021

Bassishaw High Walk, City, 1987 87-11c-16-positive_2400
Bassishaw High Walk, City, 1987

There is still a section of the pedestrian route above traffic level here, leading from the yard behind the Guildhall and to a bridge across London Wall, though the bridge is now a more recent construction a little further west and crossing at an angle and leading on to the high walks that were built into the Barbican Estate. This area next to City Tower looks rather different now. Britannic House, one of the original six towers built along the new London Wall was refurbished in 1990 and renamed City Tower.

Highwalk, Moor Lane, City, 1987 87-11c-21-positive_2400
Highwalk, Moor Lane, City, 1987

Looking down Moor Lane with the Barbican at the right on a section of the high walk that has now gone, but which used to lead from close to Moorgate station. I think this gateway was roughly above the junction with Silk St. Empty when I took this picture (possibly on a Sunday) it was sometimes quite crowded during the rush hours with office workers making their way to the tube. The high walks were useful routes, avoiding the often dangerous traffic on the streets and also providing good vantage points for photographers, and I’m saddened at their loss. But I think they took up space that could be sold expensively as offices.

Ropemaker St, Islington, 1987 87-11c-31-positive_2400
Ropemaker St, Islington, 1987, City

This building on Ropemaker St was one of my favourite examples of modern office architecture when it was built, and I photographed it on several occasions. I suppose it doesn’t quite belong in this post as it was on the north side of the road and thus in Islington rather than the City, where I was standing on a section of high walk to take the picture.

Ropemaker Place, a 60m high block was completed in 1987 shortly before I made this picture. It didn’t last long and was demolished only 18 years later in 2005.

Holland House, Bury St, City, 1987 87-11c-51-positive_2400
Holland House, Bury St, City, 1987

Holland House in Bury St has lasted rather longer and is protected by its Grade II* listing. The only London building by leading Dutch architect Hendrik Petrus Berlage it was built in 1916 for the Dutch company Wm H Müller & Co, complete with a granite prow by Dutch sculptor J. Mendes da Costa.

More recently when I’ve photographed here I’ve stepped a little to the left to bring the ‘Gherkin’ into view – but construction of 30 St Mary Axe only began in 2001.

Cutler St area, City, 1987 87-11c-53-positive_2400
Cutler St area, City, 1987

I think this is a part of Devonshire Square, a private area of the City which was developed by the East India Company, then sold to St Katharine’s Dock and bought in 1909 by the Port of London Authority. The warehouses here were used to store the more valuable commodities imported from across the empire. The site was acquired by Standard Life Assurance together with Greycoat Estates Ltd in 1978 and became offices, but still remained something of a private enclave, if no longer used for the secure storage of “Ostrich feathers, chinaware, oriental carpets, cigars, tortoiseshell, silks, mother of pearl, clocks, watches, cameras, drugs, spices, musical instruments, perfumes, tea and other prized artefacts.”

Baltic Exchange, St Mary Axe, City, 1987 87-11c-63-positive_2400
Baltic Exchange, St Mary Axe, City, 1987

The Provisional IRA left a van packed with explosives outside the Baltic Exchange in St Mary Axe shortly before 9pm on 10 April 1992, and then made a call to the police warning them that a bomb was about to explode at the Stock Exchange – 370 metres away in direct line, but about half a mile by road. The bomb wrecked this facade and caused a total of £800 million worth of damage to this and surrounding buildings.

Perhaps the bombers were confused and looking for the old Stock Exchange building in Capel Court, off Bartholomew Lane, just to the east of the Bank of England, while the Stock Exchange had moved in 1972 to a new tower on Old Broad St.

21 New St,, Cock Hill, City, 1987 87-11c-55-positive_2400
21 New St, Cock Hill, City, 1987

This listed archway with a Merino Ram was built in 1863 for Cooper’s Wool Warehouse. By the 1900s the wool storage business had largely moved further east closer to London Docks and in 1907 the warehouse was sold and used for other storage. It was converted into offices in 1981.

Newsprint, Bouverie St, City, 1987 87-11d-01-positive_2400
Newsprint, Bouverie St, City, 1987

Some newspapers were still being printed in ‘Fleet Street’ and the picture shows a lorry delivering newsprint to one of the printing works on Bouverie St.

The Seven Ages of Man, Richard Kindersley, sculpture, Baynard House, Queen Victoria St, City, 1987 87-11d-41-positive_2400
The Seven Ages of Man, Richard Kindersley, sculpture, Baynard House, Queen Victoria St, City, 1987

This sculpture stands in front of one of London’s bleaker Brutalist buildings, and for once its hard to disagree with Pevsner over a modern building, when he describes this a “acutely depressing.” But it does include a section of high-level pedestrian walkway with seating and this rather fine sculpture based on ‘As You Like It’. And it’s a pleasant enough place to sit and read a newspaper with a view of St Andrew by the Wardrobe, the last city church rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London.

All from Page 7 of my 1987 London Photos.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


High in the City

Friday, July 3rd, 2020
The Podium, Alphage Highwalk, City, 1992TQ3281-064
The Podium pub, St Alphage Highwalk, City, 1992

When architects and planners looked at how the city should be rebuilt after the considerable bomb damage in the war, they dreamt of a city where people and traffic would be separated, with pedestrians circulating at an upper level on what were called ‘highwalks’, and these were incorporated into the parts of the city which were being rebuilt.

Britannic Tower, Moor St, Moorgate, City, 1992 TQ3281-099
Highwalk entrance, Britannic Tower, Moor St, Moorgate, City, 1992

The largest of these areas was of course the Barbican, which was linked to the more central areas of the city by highwalks along and across London Wall, but there were also smaller sections of highwalks around Upper Thames St and around the Nat West Tower, Bishopsgate and Wormwood St.

Barbican, City, 1992TQ3281-094
Escalator, Highwalk, London Wall, Wood St

The planners were young, fit and idealistic and perhaps failed to appreciate the ways people actually moved around the city using buses, tube and taxis and their reluctance to climb stairs unnecessarily to get to buildings most of which still had their entrances at street level. There were escalators, but too few and these were expensive and needed maintenance. The planners perhaps also failed to see how much many older buildings from the Victorian and Edwardian eras would as the years progressed be seen as making a positive contribution to our cityscape – and often but not always be protected from demolition (or at least their facades protected) by listing.

Bassishaw Highwalk, City, 1987 TQ3281-043
Bassishaw Highwalk, City, 1987

Most of the city continues to exist at street level, and much of the highwalks outside of the Barbican that was built has now been altered or demolished – with the IRA beginning the process in some areas. They also were responsible for the first real controls on road traffic through the city, with the police ‘ring of steel’ introduced in the early 1990s as a response to bombings at the Baltic Exchange and Bishopsgate.

St Alphage Highwalk,, London Wall, City, 1992 TQ3281-103
St Alphage Highwalk,, London Wall, City, 1992 TQ3281-103

More recently there have been some minor road and junction closures and the ‘Bank on Safety’ scheme has limited traffic at Bank junction to buses and cyclists between 7am and 7pm Monday to Friday; further controls seem inevitable with some city streets being pedestrianised and others being made ‘no through roads’.

St Alphage Highwalk,, London Wall, City, 1992TQ3281-105
St Alphage Highwalk,, London Wall, City, 1992

Long overdue is an overhaul of the private hire systems and in particular of ‘black cabs’ which are responsible for much of the congestion in the city. They will be changing to electric vehicles, but we need to see a move to a smartphone app based system with an end to the current discrimination against mini-cabs over the congestion charge and an end to wasteful ‘cruising for hire’.

You can see more pictures from the City of London taken in 1986-92, including some more from the highwalks, in page 3 of my album TQ32 London Cross-Section. These are scans made from cheap trade processed en-prints at the time I took the pictures which were sometimes rather poor quality.