Monday, 17 September 2018

London in the hot autumn sun

Been a busy five days; Warsaw-Rzeszów-Kraków-Wrocław-Warsaw-London. Arriving at "London" Luton on Sunday, I find the weather remains Mediterranean; bright blue skies and one-layer temperatures. Jacket stowed in rucksack, I walk to Luton "Airport" Parkway station and head for Ealing. Work on Monday, long meeting in Central London, lots of walking and architectural photography opportunities. Still Mediterranean. At times I feel like I'm in Gibraltar or Malta, familiar architecture and street furniture under a hot sun. It's 26C and again my jacket is in my rucksack.

Below: What's the English for kamienica? This. What English word describes an elegant, low-rise building consisting of many flats? This is Transept St, W2, Hyde Park Mansions; but not every mansion is a kamienica. Nor is every kamienica a tenement - a word associated with Glaswegian poverty.

Below: The Royal Exchange pub on Sale Place W2. In this weather, in the second half of September? Could well be Gibraltar.

The last two British telephone boxes I saw were both wooden replicas inside the Polish offices of British firm. Here's the real thing, which I strongly associate from childhood. (I close my eyes and recall the pong - a mixture of urine, cheap disinfectant and stale tobacco). The solid clunk of the bakelite telephone handset, the brass door handle; a true icon of Britishness (in a world where every other object is said to be iconic). Located on the corner of Shillibeer Place, named after local George Shillibeer, who, in 1829, initiated London's first horse-drawn bus service.

Below: beautiful late-Victorian/Edwardian townhouse, Devonshire, Weymouth St. "Strite out a' Maory Parpins."

Left: St Marks of St Marylebone Anglican church. (What a name!) Again, that incongruous blue sky would have me place the picture in Australia or New Zealand, or even in some cantonment in Hyderabad province, rather than on the Old Marylebone Road. Built in 1872, Gothic Revival, the very high water mark of Brictorian Britain.
Right: I give you this photo as a quiz question; this incongruous white stone church stands at odds with its very British surroundings; on the basis of the other photos above, could anyone care to suggest what this building is, who built it and when? The clues lie in the strict, sparse architectural vocabulary; fortified and pure.

Onwards to Paddington Station, and the short eight-minute journey to Ealing Broadway via the Great Western Railway (good to see the name back again). Ealing Broadway is being refurbished ahead of the opening of CrossRail, but delays mean this will not happen this year as planned.

Below: a delightful sight! An Austin Healey 3000 Mk II passes me on my way to my father's house. If I were ever to buy a petrol-engined four-wheeled vehicle again it would have to be a) classic and b) convertible. This car dates back to 1963; magnificent!

This time last year:
Full-frame and mirrorless
[my thoughts on the new Nikons, launched last month]

This time five years ago:
The rich, the poor, the entrepreneur... and the banker

This time seven years ago:
At the hipsters' ball

This time eight years ago:
Cycling through the spirit of place

This time nine years ago:
Invaders or liberators?

This time ten years ago:
Adlestrop, en route to Kraków

This time 11 years ago:
Return to Zamienie


John Savery said...

Testing my memory from my student days in London - it is the Swedish church. Built on 1911 according to Wiki!

Michael Dembinski said...

@ John Savery

Outstanding! I really though no one would get it. So obscure, so backstreet...

I immediately recognised the style, though at first I thought it was Finnish, having watched Jonathan Meade's most excellent TV series, Magnetic North

Anonymous said...

Quite a Lutyensesque church..

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Anonymous:

"Swedish Church

Swedish Church, Harcourt St.
The Ulrika Eleonora Swedish Parish in London is part of "Church of Sweden Abroad". The first church for the Swedish community in London opened in Wapping in 1728, but it was replaced and relocated in the early 20th century. Ulrika Eleonora Church is located at 6 Harcourt Street, Marylebone. It was built in 1911 and is a Grade II listed building. The altar, pulpit, fonts and chandeliers are from the former church in Wapping. As well as the church and staff accommodation, there is also a reading room, church hall, library and parish office. The nearest Underground station is Edgware Road."

More digging necessary. Architects: Herbert Wigglesworth (1866 - 1949) and Axel H. Haig (1835 - 1921).

Wigglesworth's architectural practice was noted for specialising in the Scandinavian style (Elisabeth Scott, who went on to design the Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-on-Avon, started her architectural career working for him)

Lutyens was a contemporary of Wigglesworth; Nordic dourness is clear in Lutyens' earlier works.