Welcome to another special edition of Train Travels, showcasing some of the unique views we have been treated to of some notable London landmarks as we travelled around the Capital towards various destinations including Essex, Richmond and Croydon…
City of London Financial District & The Shard
Heading out of London Liverpool Street on a train towards the County of Essex, we got a stunning view of the City of London Financial District, shown over to the left. It is made up of a number of iconic skyscrapers, which, from left to right, features:
1) 20 Fenchurch Street: 525 ft Tall, Completed 2014
2) 30 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin): 591 ft Tall, Completed 2004.
3) 122 Leadenhall Street: 737 ft Tall, Completed 2014.
4) Spitalfields Tower
5) Heron Tower: 755 Ft Tall, Completed 2011.
You can out more about the Towers, and other Skyscrapers in the City in my post here.
Of course to the far left of the picture is the Shard, which opened in 2012, and at 1,016 ft Tall it is the new tallest building in the United Kingdom, and Western Europe. It can be found in the London Borough of Southwark, South of the River Thames.
Regents Canal & Canary Wharf
Continuing on our route towards Essex, we passed over the Regent’s Canal, which runs for 14 miles from the Grand Union Canal near Paddington, to the River Thames at Limehouse Basin in Tower Hamlets. You can find out more in my Tower Hamlets post here.
In the distance beyond the Canal you can see the various skyscrapers that make up the Canary Wharf complex in Tower Hamlets, with the central Tower, topped by a pyramid, being One Canada Square. Completed in 1990, it stands at 770 ft Tall, and when it opened it became the tallest building in the United Kingdom, a record it held until the Shard opened in 2012.
You can find out more about Canary Wharf, its history and the other skyscrapers in the complex, in my post here.
Orbit Observation Tower
Leaving Tower Hamlets, we entered the London Borough of Newham, home to the town of Stratford, where you will find the Olympic Park, built specifically for the 2012 Summer Olympics, hosted by London.
2 iconic landmarks of the Olympic Park were visible from the train, starting with the Orbit Observation Tower, a stunning latticework of Steel which rises 376 ft into the air, providing a viewing platform with some incredible views.
Just behind the Orbit is the Olympic Stadium itself, designed by a firm called Populous, a well known company who have lots of experience in this field of work, having designed the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, and the Emirates Stadium in London.
The Stadium took just 4 years to build, between 2008 – 2011, opening a year early. It hosted the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics a year later, as well as numerous track/field events as it includes a large running track around the outer ring of the Stadium. It also hosted the Closing Ceremony of the Olympics, and then welcomed the Paralympics a few months later. After the Olympics a renovation started on the Stadium, to convert it ready for its new owners, West Ham United, to take it over as their permanent home ground, and they will inhabit the 3rd largest Stadium in the UK, behind Wembley, and Twickenham.
I took this picture near Clapham Junction railway station, and it features a London Overground train. The Overground is a large suburban network which complements the London Underground, and serves 111 stations across over 50 miles of track. The lines were all consolidated under the umbrella title of the Overground, featured in Orange on the Tube Map, in 2007, and it has expanded various times since.
Some of the newest parts of the network include the 2010 extension along the East London Line, and the 2012 addition around Surrey Quays.
Borough of Wandsworth
Later on, we took a train from the town of Croydon into London Victoria, and as we passed through the London Borough of Wandsworth, we could see out across the urban sprawl that is our Capital City.
In the distance, over to the right of the picture is the new Vauxhall Tower, located in the similarly named Vauxhall area of London. It is now the tallest residential building in the whole country, at 594 ft Tall, with 223 flats spread across 52 floors. During construction it was the scene of a tragedy when a helicopter hit 1 of the construction cranes, killing both occupants.
Battersea Power Station
Continuing through Wandsworth, we passed very close to Battersea Power Station, shown above, a former power station on the banks of the Thames that is in the process of being converted into flats. It’s iconic towers are being removed to be made safe, before they are reassembled. The new flats will sat at the centre of a much larger development which will also include an extension of the Northern Line of the tube to Battersea Park.
The exterior of the Station was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (1880 – 1960, English Architect) who also designed the Bankside Power Station which was converted into the Tate Modern in Southwark, as well as Liverpool Cathedral. Battersea went on to open in 2 stages, the 1st in 1935, and the 2nd in 1955.
On the final approach into London Victoria we crossed Grosvenor Bridge, connecting Wandsworth with the City of Westminster. The original bridge was called the “Victoria Railway Bridge”, after London Victoria Station, and opened in 1860, later being widened in 1865. It was subsequently rebuilt in 1907 to it’s present form, but again needed to be widened during the 1960’s.
All trains on the approach to London Victoria have to cross the bridge, which offers some great views up the Thames, with the Vauxhall Tower again visible in the background.
Royal Air Force Museum
On the way out towards the City of St Albans from London St Pancras, we passed the Royal Air Force Museum, located in the London Borough of Barnet, in the area known as Colindale.
It is housed at the former Hendon Aerodrome, which has numerous hangers that contain different exhibits, and planes that have served with the RAF. The Museum opened in 1972, and there are at least 30 different Aircraft on the premises, all of which are free for the public to view.
You can find out more on their official website here.
Lambeth Bridge & Houses of Parliament
The last view we got as we travelled around London was across the Thames, towards Lambeth Bridge, shown above. It has been deliberately painted Red after the benches in the House of Lords Chamber, whilst its counterpart, Westminster Bridge, is Green, after the benches in the House of Commons Chamber. This is because the bridges are at either end of the Houses of Parliament, where their respective Houses lie.
Lambeth Bridge opened in 1932, to the designs of Sir George Humphreys (1863 – 1945, British Engineer), G. Topham Forrest (1872 – 1945, Scottish Architect) and Sir Reginald Blomfield (1856 – 1942, British Architect). It replaced Peter William Barlow’s (1809 – 1885, English Engineer) bridge of 1862, which had in turn replaced the old Horse Ferry which had crossed the river here.
So in the background you can see the Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Commons and Lords, where MP’s debate the issues of the day, and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom sets in stone new laws. The previous building was destroyed by a fire in 1834, so Charles Barry (1795 – 1860, English Architect) designed a replacement with over 1000 rooms, which was completed in 1870. It includes the stunning 315 ft Tall Elizabeth Tower (aka Big Ben) at the East End, as well as the Victoria Tower at the West End, standing 323 ft Tall, 8 ft taller than Big Ben.
Join us next time for the final London Train Travels, with some pictures taking during our diversionary route from London to Preston via the Midland Main Line to Sheffield, and Manchester, thanks to Engineering Works…