Last year I took a walk around the City at Christmas. A time of year when construction stops, the majority of office workers take a long Christmas / New Year break, and the streets take on a silence not seen at any other time during the year. For this year, I took a walk around the West End at Christmas to find a very different city, one that was still busy. Streets, shops, restaurants, theatres and pubs all still crowded.
Whenever I walk, I always take photos. I have learnt from my father’s photos and any old photo in general that even the most ordinary scene is of interest, and with the rapid state of change across London, streets and buildings can look very different in just a few years.
For a New Year’s Day post, join me for a short walk and a sample of photos that hopefully bring across the atmosphere of the West End at Christmas.
I started in the Strand, just off Trafalgar Square.
The first photo is of one of my pet hates – the renaming of an area which comprises streets which already have their own distinct identity. Here the “Northbank” is bringing together Trafalgar Square, Strand and Aldwych.
The “Northbank” is a Business Improvement District (BID) created by the business community in the area. The “Northbank’s” website explains: “With a shrinking public sector threatening the breadth and longevity of some council services, BIDs are able to carry out additional services bespoke to the needs of the local community” . Whilst I can understand the motivation, this appears to be another symptom of the under-funding of Councils and transfer of services to a potentially unaccountable private sector.
There are a number of Business Improvement Districts across London and the Mayor of London / London Assembly web site has more details.
Leaving the Strand, I walked up Charing Cross Road and then along Cecil Court. These individual shops always look good as dusk falls.
Up St. Martin’s Lane to photograph and have a last look around Stanfords in Long Acre before the store closes in mid January to reopen nearby in Mercer Walk.
Back up Upper St. Martin’s Lane and a crowd of Father Christmases, with many more following behind.
Laptops and mobile phones:
The Two Brewers, Monmouth Street:
Leaving Monmouth Street, along St. Giles High Street and into Denmark Street to see what remains of the street:
Hanks is holding out:
Westside at number 24 surrounded by scaffolding:
Regent Sounds, also surrounded by scaffolding:
Rose Morris, guitars and drums:
The new Foyles store in Charing Cross Road. I was really sorry to see the old Foyles store disappear, but it is good that the book shop is still in Charing Cross Road, and that this building remains as it was here that my father went to college and used the basement as a bomb shelter.
Along Coventry Street and an alternative method to see Christmas Lights, however I prefer walking:
The 453 to Deptford Bridge leaves Piccadilly Circus:
Down to Waterloo Place:
Walking the streets of London at any time of year is a pleasure, however in the week’s before Christmas the streets of the West End provide a different perspective to the rest of the year. The same shops, theatres, all you can eat buffets, pubs, hotels, clubs, restaurants, but all looking a bit different, however with the same underlying commercial drive to make money.
Thank you all for reading my blog during the last year, for the comments and e-mails and helping me to learn more about the city.
The days are now slowly starting to get longer and I am looking forward to lots more walking and exploring across London during 2019. A very Happy New Year to you all.