Monday, June 6, 2016

Liverpool Street

Liverpool Street Underground station and I am half way along the Central Line. This is an intersection for four lines : Central, Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith and City

I emerged from the Underground onto the large concourse of Liverpool Street Rail Station, the terminus for a variety of East of England destinations.

This station has had more than its fair share of unhappy events. During WW1 seven tons of explosives were dropped from a fixed wing aircraft which killed 162 people and injured a further 432.

The Underground station was damaged in 1993 when the IRA detonated a truck bomb  in Bishopsgate. Then during the terrorist attacks on 7th July 2005, 7 people were killed when a bomb exploded on an Underground train leaving Liverpool Street.

 In the build up to WW2 this station was the terminus of the kindertransport rescue mission to save the lives of thousands of child refugees by bringing them to a new life in Britain escaping Nazi Germany. The rescue is remembered in this bronze sculpture outside the station.

In 2013 during excavation work for the Crossrail project a 17th cent mass burial ground was unearthed. A full scale excavation followed in 2015 to reveal around 3000 skeletons from a burial ground dated back to 1665 at the time of the Great Plague. 60 archaeologists worked day and night to remove the skeletons for further investigation before they are reburied in consecrated ground.

One exit from the station takes you to Broadgate Circle which  is surrounded by numerous eating establishments. I know it looks empty and lifeless but I am here early on a Saturday morning. Saturday is my favoured day for these walks especially in Central London. Fewer delivery vans obscuring buildings and if I am early enough there are very few people around as you can see from these photos.

This is the new headquarters of UBS with four huge trading floors and up to 6000 people working here. Broadgate has numerous pieces of outdoor art.

This is called Chromorama. A very colouful landmark by David Batchelor

These six bronze figures known collectively as Rush Hour is one of the most popular sculptures in Broadgate. Created by the American artist George Segal.

Exchange Square and the surrounding buildings are located above the rail tracks leading into Liverpool Street station which means there's no room for foundations. Instead there is a permanent raft over the area with the station platforms converted into giant foundation piers. I was unaware of this amazing engineering feat until I researched the area, post visit.
On the opposite side of the square you can peer through these huge glass windows onto the platforms below.

This bronze sculpture in the Square is called Broadgate Venus 1989 by Fernando Botero.

Exchange House is erected on arches that use bridge building technology to distribute weight on to the piers. The steel arches, on two sides of the building, which I thought were just decorative, replicating the rail arches on the opposite side of the Square are actually supporting  much of the weight of the structure.

Dirty Dicks  on Bishopsgate  has been here since 1745. It is a traditional pub over three levels with lots of exposed beams. The main bar at street level is very dark with its stained wood and lack of windows.

This narrow passage way gives some idea of how London looked a couple of hundred years ago.

Close by is another narrow thoroughfare called Artillery Passage with buildings dating back to the early 1700s. Artillery Passage and Gun Street are named after the 'Guild of Artillery of Longbows, Crossbows and Handguns'. Henry VIII gave the Guild permission to practice their skills on St Mary's Fields which was the land that was later known as Spitalfields.

I came out of Artillery Lane onto Sandy's Row and came across  Sandy's Row synagogue, one of only four synagogues in the East End. At one time there were over 100.

These Georgian properties were built in 1705. The one on the left has a shop front dating back to 1756 and is the best surviving example of its kind in London. They were built for a rich family of Huguenots silk merchants. Huguenots, French protestants, settled in this area from France where they were persecuted for their religious beliefs. Many of the Huguenots were skilled silk weavers and they continued to use their skills here. This area known as Spitalfields would have been mainly fields and nursery gardens when they first arrived.

Many of the streets were laid out by the Huguenots. Here are more Georgian houses from that time. The silk looms were in the attic built with large windows  to allow as much light into the working rooms as possible. By the Victorian era the silk industry had declined and poverty was rife. The once elegant buildings were split up with multiple occupancy and this became  a slum area.
This building on the corner of Gun Street and Crispin Street was known as Providence Row Night Refuge and Convent. Built in  1868 it  once provided shelter for the poor of Spitalfields. Run by the Sisters of Mercy it provided accommodation for 300 women and children and 50 men. It continued to operate until 1999 when much of the rear part of the building was demolished although the facades have been saved. Since 2006 it has been used as student accommodation for the London School of Economics.

You can still see the signs for Men and Women above what would have been the corresponding doors.

This area has always attracted immigrants and during the late 19th cent some 100,000 Jews fled to London to escape  antisemitism in Russia and Poland. They settled in the East End living in houses once occupied by Huguenot immigrants.

This Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor opened in 1902 and provided meals for up to 5000 people a week. It was still supporting families in the 1950s and didn't close until 1992 when the property was converted to flats.

This is the early 18th cent Tenter Ground weaving works. The street name Tenter Ground stems back to medieval times when textile workers would stretch out the woven cloth on frames or 'tenters'. The phrase to 'be on tenterhooks' comes from this practice. The building was bought by the artist Tracey Emin for 4 million pounds and is used as studio space for artists.

There are three different markets in this area. Petticoat Lane, Brick Lane and Spitalfields. Petticoat Lane is a Sunday Market. It has been held here every Sunday morning for centuries. Silk petticoats sold by members of the rag trade  gave the market its name.

Brick Lane is also a Sunday Market. Made famous by the book and film of that name, it has changed dramatically over the last few decades. It is now home to many Bangladeshi immigrants and the bagel shops have been replaced by the curry restaurants. Almost anything can be found here but over recent years it seems to have moved upmarket from when I was a regular visitor in the 70s.

On Brick Lane is the Jamme Masjid Mosque. It is the only religious building in the country to have been used by Christians, Jews and Muslims. Brick Lane Mosque was originally built in 1743 as a Huguenot Church replacing an earlier wooden chapel on the same site and constructed with large vaults which could be rented out to brewers or vintners to subsidise the running costs.

There has been a market on this site since the 1600s. The name comes from a medieval hospital that was here during  the 12th cent  known as 'The priory of St Mary of the Spittle' which gave rise to the first part of the name of Spitalfields.
In 1886 Robert Horner, a former market porter bought the lease for the market and rebuilt it. It is now one of the best surviving Victorian Market hall in London.

My visit to Spitalfields coincided with lunch time. Square Pie was my choice today, A delicious chicken, leek and bacon pie with mashed potatoes, gravy and broccoli. It was yummy.

After lunch I left Spitalfields Market and crossed over Commercial Street by the Ten Bells Pub, well known for its connection to the murderer Jack the Ripper. The pub was where his second victim was seen drinking the night before her death. His last victim was also known to drink there.

Across from the pub is Hawksmoor's Christ Church. A very imposing building. Nicholas Hawksmoor (1661-1736) was a British architect apprenticed to Sir Christopher Wren. He worked alongside Wren  and contributed to the design of St Paul's Cathedral and Wren's City of London Churches. He has been solely credited with the design of six London churches, Christ Church being one of them.
Walking down Fournier Street which runs down the side of Christ Church you pass the Minister's house also designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor.

On the opposite side of the road is an old Jewish shop with its original sign.

Above No 37 is an original Fire Protection badge. In the 18th century there was no national fire service so people would pay a premium to an insurance company to provide them with fire protection from a private fire fighting team. The badge was proof of payment.

Parallel to Fournier Street is Fashion Street which is dominated by this large Moorish Market. Built in 1905 to hold approximately 250 small shops, it was hoped it would attract market holders from nearby Petticoat Lane and Brick Lane to move to an inside market. It was not a success and closed 4 years later. It remained derelict until it was restored for business use in 2003.

Just off Brick Lane is this small parking area with every wall covered in colourful street art.

On my return to Liverpool Street station I came across these  huge former warehouses of  the East India Company next to Devonshire Square.. Founded in 1600 the warehouses received goods from China, India and the Far East. The goods were unloaded at East India docks and then transported here. At its height, the East India Company was one of the largest and most successful companies in the world. With its own private army it controlled much of India and brought back a wide range of goods to England.

The warehouses are now a mix of offices, housing, shops and restaurants. A high level roof was installed to make the space usable all year round.

I crossed over Bishopsgate and walked down the side of the church of St Botolph without Bishopsgate. There has been a church on this site from Saxon times and was first recorded in 1212. Although it did survive the Great fire of London in 1666, it fell into disrepair and was rebuilt in 1729. Little damage was done during the WW2 bombing but the IRA bomb in 1993 left the church with no doors or windows and only part of its roof. It took over 3 years to repair the church and bring it back to its former glory.

At the back of the church its burial grounds have now been converted to a public garden providing a peaceful spot for city workers or visitors to sit.

Also in the garden is St Botolph's Hall which was once a Victorian infant school. On either side of the entrance are Coade stone figures of a boy and girl dressed in early 19th C costumes.

In amongst the large modern office blocks close to Liverpool Street station is this Turkish Bath  built in 1895. This Moorish style entrance survived  the Blitz when this area was heavily bombed. Once inside you would go down a winding staircase to the baths below. The baths remained open until 1954.

It has now been converted to a cafe with an outside area.

Back to the tube station and the end of my journey today.
Sharing with Our World Tuesday


  1. Your posts about England especially this on Liverpool is tickling my fancy. I am jealous.

  2. Wonderful shots of the architecture and surroundings!

  3. Brilliant job, as usual. I am partly descended from Huguenots, furriers. I wonder if my antecedents lived in the area. It is easy to forget how much damage was done to London by the IRA.

  4. This is a professional account. I could see this as a guide, in print. So much work.
    The onlything missing for me is a map. Something one could carry when trying out this walk.
    You picked a station that has intrigued me since I first came there. It has such atmosphere.

  5. Your posts are always interesting and very informative. You spotted lots more than when I was chasing around for the A-Z challenge and picked a better day and time for photos. I couldn't get a decent shot of the Kindergarten statue as too many people were sitting round it!

  6. Enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing this informative things.

  7. Wow you showed us lots of interesting things at Liverpool St Station. Interesting facts about the foundations of the buildings over the tracks.

  8. The pie looks delicious as does the Broadgate Venus.

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  10. Reader WilJune 21, 2016 at 7:30 AM

    Thank you for all the information about Liverpoolstreet station. This station had suffered a lot of attacks, which I didn't know about.I loved the statues. It's been a long time since I was at this station.
    Wil, ABCW Team

  11. I have been here.... and it looks pretty and busy. Now I know that there are so much more I have not seen, so I have to add it on the list of things to explore next time I am in London. Great documentary this posting.


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