A brief post today as unfortunately work commitments have been rather heavy over the past week. Here are three photos that my father took in 1948, the first two show the northern approach to Tower Bridge with the third showing the view across to the City from Tower Bridge. This last photo really makes you wonder how we plan the City and the buildings that tower over their surroundings.
Firstly, standing on the approach road to Tower Bridge. The Tower of London on the right. The cranes that still lined the river are visible to the left and right of the bridge. The sign on the left warns that heavy goods vehicles much cross the bridge at 8 miles per hour.
68 years later and I am standing in roughly the same spot on a very sunny day – always a mistake due to the deep shadows. It should have been easy to locate the precise location, however I believe that the slip road to the left in the 1948 photo has been moved back, slightly further north.
My 2016 photo also shows an empty road, a bit deceiving as I had to wait a lengthy period to get a clear road.
The next photo is a bit closer to the bridge.
And in 2016.
The photo below was taken from the bridge, looking over to the City of London. Look at the background and the church spires of the City churches are standing above their surroundings. To the left of centre, the Monument is standing clear and slightly to the left of the Monument, in the background, is the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
It is low tide, and along the bank of the Thames is the artificial beach, with stairs down from the walkway alongside the Tower.
And the same view in 2016. I did not time the tide right, but the beach and the stairs have long gone. If you look carefully, just to the right of the red cranes, the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral can just be seen, with slightly further to the right, the very tip of the Monument.
But what really intrudes into the 2016 view is the 20 Fenchurch Street building, better known as the Walkie Talkie building. Whilst the City cannot stay static, this building is just in the wrong place and the intrusive top-heavy design does not help.
I doubt that my father, standing on Tower Bridge and looking at the view over the City, would have imagined that it would look like this, 68 years later.
Thank you. The trees stayed,
Thank you for your weekly posts, always enjoy them. Today’s reminded me that my grandmother, who was in service in the household of the governor of the Tower, told me about watching the bridge being built
Another very good post,Admin. That walkie talkie building isn’t alone in being intrusive, there are lots more! Just like a rash of ugly warts on a kind old face. I sometimes wonder exactly what mind-bending drugs the architects are on when drawing up the plans?
Thanks Jo. Yes, when you see some of these buildings above such historic sites as the Tower of London it really does make you wonder if the overall context of the building and its wider location are considered when decisions are made.
The last photograph is depressing but not surprising. Change will happen but who thought that the walkie-talkie was a good idea? If that could get planning permission with its wrong design and wrong location then there is every chance that more monstrosities will follow. At least Boris Johnson cannot continue his destruction of London. Hopefully the next mayor will be an improvement!
May I add a little to the mention of the beach by offering a link to the Tower Hill Trust which was responsible for it: http://www.towerhilltrust.org.uk/about-history.php ? Then known as the Tower Hill Improvement Trust, it opened the beach in 1934. Although the beach was closed in 1971, the Trust continues today with its invaluable work around Tower Hill and in the wider Tower Hamlets.
Roger, Thanks for the link to the Tower Hill Trust. I was aware of the trust but not the full history and current works, so the link has filled in a gap in my knowledge.
Thanks for another interesting comparison between now and then. Could not agree more about the inappropriateness of that “walkie talkie” monstrosity. In my opinion it is just a monument to some architect’s inflated ego that we all have to suffer.
I was somewhat heartened by the lack of unsympathetic development in the first couple of photos – carefully framed, perhaps; just missing the Shard, for example – but do I see the One Tower Bridge development peeping up?
The Walkie Talkie is breathtakingly overbearing and out of place. And the developers wanted something even larger! The skyline will get worse, as the tall buildings that were approved over the last few years get built.
So agree about the ugly Walkie Talkie, which melts cars too. But there’s so much ugliness and shortsightedness in the pell-mell rush to build build build for short term profits. Who knows what the overcrowding, wind tunnels and water shortages will mean for us all, not to mention the terrorist risks.
I read your Blog with great interest, enjoyment and nostalgia every week, so, thank you very much for your excellent and frequently detailed historic and well researched support material. I have been meaning to write from both a personal and “professional’ viewpoint for sometime but your Tower Bridge topic has at last prompted me to do so. Being both part of and a contributor to the website http://www.reelstreets.com that endeavours to establish locations used in commercially distributed films I was both amazed and gratified to see your fathers shot of the approach to Tower Bridge that included Irongate Wharf. I spent a considerable time investigating whether the screen capture on our website was a studio shot or original and eventually established the facts but not quite so satisfyingly as your fathers photograph. In many respects your weekly quest and our own are very similar, but to follow in your fathers footsteps on such a quest must be quite special.