Monday, January 26, 2015


Embankment station is the 4th stop on the Bakerloo line when travelling northwards. Four different lines stop at this station: Bakerloo, Northern, District and Circle.The Bakerloo line  travels beneath the Thames to get from the previous station at Waterloo to Embankment. It was reported that builders suffered from the 'bends' whilst tunnelling under the Thames.

Leaving the station from the South side you have a view of the Thames.

 I had to wait until the road was closed to traffic before capturing these views.

 Looking towards Westminster

Walking eastwards along the Embankment  there is a clue when you pass the benches as to what is coming next.

Yes it is Cleopatra's Needle. Originally erected in Heliopolis c1500 BC. It was then moved to Alexandria in 12BC. In 1819 it was presented by the Viceroy of Egypt to this country in memory of Nelson and Abercrombie. After being encased in an iron cylinder and abandoned in the Bay of Biscay following a storm, it was eventually recovered and erected on this spot in 1879.


On either side of the Needle is a sphinx. Looking closely at the foot of the one on the right you can see small holes which were caused by fragments from a bomb dropped nearby during the first bombing raid on London in 1917.

If you look over the embankment wall you can see one of the Lion head moorings which were sculpted in 1868-70 by Timothy Butler. It is said that if the lions drink water then London will flood.

Across the road is the Victoria Embankment Gardens built on land reclaimed from the Thames

At the rear of the gardens is the York Gate which marks the position of the North bank of the Thames before the construction of the Gardens in 1862. The gate was built in 1624 as the watergate to York House, a huge mansion on the Strand.

A number of large impressive buildings overlook the gardens. This one is Shell Mex House

Rear entrance to The Savoy Hotel.

The Adelphi Hotel also overlooks the gardens. Originally there were 24 terraced neo classical houses built by the four Adams brothers between 1768-72 occupying this space. They were demolished in the 1930s and replaced by this huge art deco building. Some parts of the original Adelphi buildings can still be seen.

After exiting the gardens and crossing the road you come to Somerset House. Built around 1550 for the Lord Protector. Over the next few centuries it has had many owners and different uses.

Nowadays Somerset House is home to the Courtauld Institute of Art and in the Winter this large courtyard becomes a skating rink.
Returning to  Embankment Station and walking West beneath the Hungerford Bridge, the first building you might notice is this green cab shelter. Originally set up to provide hot meals for Hackney carriages in Victorian times when  drivers weren't allowed to leave their cabs. 13 out of the original 61  shelters still exist where drivers can still get something to eat.

Overlooking this part of the Embankment are some very large hotels such as the Royal Horseguards Hotel and behind that the Corinthia and the Grand.
You will also find some impressive government buildings. This is the site of the first headquarters of the Metropolitan Police at Scotland Yard from 1829-1890. The building was rebuilt in 1930 and has apparently now been bought by a hotel group.

This huge building is The Ministry of Defence.

Leaving the station from the North side you walk out onto Villiers Street.

 This is London's oldest wine bar dating from 1890. It was here that Rudyard Kipling, poet and story writer, enjoyed a drink. Not far for him to walk as he lived next door between 1889 and 1891.

Just across the road is The Arches home to the New Players Theatre and a number of small shops and snack bars.

On the other side of The Arches is the Ship and Shovell pub. Noted as the only pub in London that is split into two. Go back through the Arches and to the top of Villiers Street onto The Strand

A short way down The Strand you come to Carting Lane and the Stage Doors of the Savoy theatre.

This theatre was opened in 1881 and was the first public building in the world to be lit throughout by  electricity.

Just a little further down the lane is this old street lamp. It is a rare sewer gas lamp dating back to the 1880s. Many of these lamps lit up the streets of London by using methane gas emitted from the sewers below.  It continues to burn using residual biogas.

Just around the corner on Savoy Hill is the Queen's Chapel of the Savoy. In the 13thC  the Savoy Palace was built on this land  which was later owned by John of Gaunt. His unpopularity led to its downfall as it was destroyed during the Peasant's Revolt in 1381. Henry VII founded a hospital here and this Chapel was built alongside it. The hospital was demolished in the 1800s but the Chapel remains.

Walking back up to The Strand you come to the front entrance of The Savoy Hotel named after the Savoy Palace.

A short distance from The Savoy is Simpson's-in-the-Strand. One of London's oldest restaurants it has a long list of famous diners including Charles Dickens, George Bernard Shaw, Vincent Van Gogh and Benjamin Disraeli.

The next station from Embankment is Charing Cross yet it takes just 5 minutes to walk!


  1. Great photos and fascinating history. I'm sure I could spend days just exploring this part of London - but a guide would be great!

  2. Another delightful stroll and narrative. Makes you think about the hardships endured by the tunnel workers under the river.

  3. There is so much to take in in this post. Cleopatra’s needle has certainly been around for a very long time. And how glorious it would be to skate in that courtyard seeping with history.

  4. Another nice tour of the station and area. It is amazing, the history of the Sphinx. wonderful views of the hotels, garden and all the buildings.. Great post, thanks for sharing your walk! Have a happy week!

  5. Gosh, these photos are making me wish I had tickets right now to fly to London.

  6. Another virtual tour of the place. I am enjoying them. :)
    Have a great week ahead!

  7. Impressive buildings! I really like Somerset House and The Arches.

  8. I recognised a few of those places from when I walked along the Embankment, I though I was on the South but it was the North side.

    1. Ps Not sure about workers getting the Bends while working under the Thames, that tends to be caused by surfacing too quick while scuba diveing. They proably became sick from somthing down there.

  9. Wonderful shots. The sculptures and carvings are amazing.

  10. I haven't been to London in years. I am always amazed at the incredible history -- 1500BC? Yikes. I'd love to go to that wine bar! Thanks for the most wonderful walking tour!

  11. The green cab shelter caught my interest the most. I read two mystery series by Anne Perry, which are based at different times of the Victorian period. Next time I read a scene about cab drivers, I'm going to think about these shelters. :-)

  12. The Ship and Shovel.....yeah, ok. Cleopatra's Needle, 1500BC. Amazing. Another fine tour of an area I know a little about. On an earlier London visit, we needed to get onto the Circle Line from Trafalgar Square, and so caught the Tube from Charing Cross to Embankment. It looked to be some distance on the Tube Map. It wasn't until just a couple of years ago that I read such mistaken travel on the Tube was given as an example of where Tube Map falls down.

    Coincidentally, this morning I looked at a history of all the name changes for these two stations, along with Strand, Trafalgar Square and Aldwych since railways began in London.

  13. I love these posts. You are taking me on a personal tour of London and I am learning so much interesting stuff about the city where I spent my first 6 years of my life.

  14. I recall being very impressed by Cleopatra's needle when my dad took me there some 55 years ago.

  15. Wow! Great shots and I needed that tour ~ no snow!

    Happy Week to you,
    artmusedog and carol

  16. Thank you for the interesting walk in London!
    Wil, ABCW Team.

  17. I love the methane gas street light. Ingenious. Maybe we could do that again?


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