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BBC London Talk the Walk
John Kennedy and Big George.



Southwark Street.





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Southwark Street SE 1 and we are standing at the junction with Blackfriars Road and will be heading east bound along this street. Straight away you will notice the large Iron railway bridge spanning the road in front of us. This is a well lit up area and you'll notice a rather large piece of "contemporary art" upon the right hand wall, it's by a local Artist Ian Davenport consisting of forty eight enamelled panels with different coloured paint allowed to run down the panel, gravity was allowed to do its magic and some of the paint merged, for the life of me I am of the opinion local school children could have produced this work at a fraction of the cost. Oh I should mention each panel was fired at a whopping temperature of 850 degrees. One thing I will say for this piece of work is it does liven up a rather functional but bland brick wall.

Now for the rest of this walk we shall stay on this side of the road, the perspective is better and we have some real treats further along the footpath. So let's move on and straight away notice the shape of the pavement not your standard straight kerb but odd angles jutting out into the road. It looks odd, feels odd and makes this particular street look odd ! Notice how the road is level with the pavement at junctions with SouthwarK Street and the green cycle lanes upon the road that have worn out in less than a year.

Next you will come upon a couple of rather nice brick built buildings, the first has a sign upon it saying "Kirklady Testing Works". David Kirklady ( 1820-1897.) helped form the Institute of Engineers in Scotland, he was the first person to set up a load testing machine for construction materials and here in Southwark Street is a 48 ft long machine which is able to apply a load in excess of 300 tons. Now the entrance to this local museum is in Prices Street, at the rear of this building, but before we move on have a look across the road and take in the view of Bankside Power Station which is now the Tate Modern, this is a funny view of the London skyline because you see nothing but the cooling tower of the former power station. Back to the walk and next to the Kirklady testing works is a lovely red brick building, look's like apartments with a wonderful narrow curved end to the block, just stop and admire the brickwork.

So we've made it to the junction of Great Suffolk Street and we press on and look across the road to notice a rather large modern glass building, it's called the blue fin building a open public space between this and a new development called Bankside. If you look at the 1960's, 70's buildings on our right you will understand why I believe these new glass modern building's are a great improvement ! One of the most peculiar buildings or addresses has to be the London Councils office, what a door number fifty nine and a  half, the mauve and purple stripe looks so out of place and notice on the corner the spikes placed on the window sill so a stranger or should I say destitute homeless person can't sleep here. Look above and you'll notice the rather fancy stonework, it has a Victorian feel to it, notice the two cherubs plus the life buoy in the middle ( doesn't the buoy look like a dalek ?).  

Now we've made it to the junction of Southwark Bridge Road and if you turned left and walked north it leads to Vinters Place, Upper and Lower Thames Street but more importantly Queen Street which leads to King Street and then the Guildhall Court Yard but I'm digressing. Walking further east along Southwark Street we come to the Menier Chocolate Factory Theatre and Cafe, "They're playing our song" is currently showing and it stars Alistair McGowan and Connie Fisher ( 25th July-Sept 28th.). What a beautiful old Victorian building this is and just past the sign for the theatre notice the two lower ground windows and where the curve tops conjoin see if you can spot the little dragon. The building exterior is old a little dirty but it feels like London and is a welcome contrast to the glass and 60's-70's buildings.

Southwark council are certainly into public art because of the corner of your eye you should start to see another large installation of artwork, it is two panels of multicoloured dots on a stainless steel back drop, again the artwork lights up the underneath of another large railway bridge ( bridge 36 XTD.). In the daytime this looks good but when darkness falls this really is impressive, ( now I'm liking contemporary art, sorry Ian Davenport for my earlier comments.)  every now and again the lights all turn purple. The trick I would like you to do is line yourself up with the bridge and just turn your head and enjoy the lines and the different perspectives you get under this bridge. The junction we are at now is Redcross Way if you look across the road you'll notice a lovely old small industrial building lovely big doors where you can imagine people hoisting up goods many years ago.

We move on and what you will notice is a really wonderful looking building appearing on your left hand side. This is the Hop Exchange, it is curved and tiered and looks like a up ended wedding cake, lovely long columns and very nice piece of wrought iron for its entrance, look at the faces above the door two male one female in the centre and the beautiful artwork above. What I loved most here is the Golden Eagle, I've lived in London for over 35 years and I never noticed him before. Well we only have one place to mention now and that's the Southwark Tavern lively market public house, hope you enjoyed the walk this week and remember you can download this walk as a pod cast at and just click on talk the walk where you'll find a google map and plenty of photograph's !

John Kennedy Talk The Walk






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