Saturday, 5 January 2008

Now and Then VII

The view south from the Campanile has changed dramatically since 1911; although many of the landmarks remain, they are difficult to distinguish in the modern photograph. To begin with the easiest, Vincent Square (to the left) is the playing field of Westminster School, and is also used on occasion by the boys of our Choir School. In the foreground is Clergy House, and the fourth floor terrace - that part of the building faces on to Francis Street, which runs behind the Cathedral complex. To the left of that, running digonally upwards, the yellow-brick appartment blocks are already in place by 1911, and to their left can be glimpsed the roof of the Cardinal Pub (just over the top of the large block bottom left) - although its current name is of more modern origin.

In front of Vincent Square runs Rocherster Row, and the red-brick Police Station and Magistrate's Court (with the gabled roof and round window), recently converted into appartment flats. To the right of Vincent Square, and across Vauxhall Bridge Road, can be seen the curious spire of St James the Less, a red-brick Arts-And-Crafts Church with a chancel fresco by G. F. Watts. The other Church spires of Pimlico can be spotted amidst the modern developments.
Two major surprises; the tower blocks across the river (the cream-coloured building to the left is MI6, as featured in the James Bond film) which include luxury river-front appartment blocks; more striking is the garden allotments in Francis Street, just behind the Cathedral. It is extraordinary that, as recently as 1911, areas of central London were still open land for cultivation!


Anonymous said...

Isn't the cream coloured building MI6 not MI5?

Ttony said...

MI6, not MI5. MI5 is at Thames House.

Anonymous said...

In the top left hand corner of the 1911 photograph can be seen a gas holder which stood just off Vincent Street. This belonged to the Gas Light & Coke Company which became North Thames Gas upon nationalization after the 2nd World War. The gas holder was eventually decommissioned & the site became the Central Area office of North Thames Gas where I worked between 1979 & 1995 & my association with the Cathedral began. The site was redeveloped into luxury flats which are behind Hide Tower in the recent photo.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to be picky, but the building across the river is MI6, not MI5.

I can remember going up the campanile as a boy in the late 1950s and the view had hardly changed from the 1911 photos.

What the Luftwaffe didn't achieve, the postwar planners did!

Mark Langham said...

Thanks you for your corrections - I've made them in the text!