I had never seen Cutler’s Hall, just north of Paternoster Square, designed by T. Tayler Smith and with a terracotta frieze by Benjamin Creswick, a young knife-grinder who turned sculptor under the tutelage of Ruskin and died in 1946, having been Professor of Sculpture at the Royal Birmingham Society. The frieze shows the craft processes of the cutler – forging, grinding, hafting and finishing:-
Since it was such a beautiful morning, I took a slight detour to see 30, Old Bailey, a recent building by Sauerbruch Hutton on a site just west of Paternoster Square, where the scale of the building is masked by the use of coloured fins:-
It’s not often that I go to Primrose Hill with its exaggeratedly wide, leafy streets, called after Arthur Primrose, 5th. Earl of Rosebery, a brilliant orator, marksman and connoisseur who was briefly Prime Minister from March 1894 to June 1895 before the fall of the Liberal government. I might have been able to do some folk dancing in Cecil Sharp House, but instead walked up Gloucester Avenue:-
After hearing Todd Longstaffe-Gowan talk about the landscaping of Regent’s Park, I have realised how much of the design of St. James’s Park is owing to John Nash, in his role as Surveyor General of Woods, Forests, Parks and Chases, a role he held from 1806. It was he who, in early 1827, on the orders of George IV and following a report which suggested the creation of a pleasure garden, was responsible for converting the canal which had been created in Charles II’s time into a lake and laying out the paths. The superintendent of the Royal Gardens at Kew, William Aiton, is thought to have been responsible for the planting. But, it is Nash who we have largely to thank for its picturesque character:-
In walking down Salmon Lane this morning, I was reminded of the Chinese restaurant Good Friends which was a great attraction of the street and brought people out from the west end, including, I’ve discovered, Fay Maschler’s parents in the 1960s (although it only opened in 1967). Even better, from our perspective, as well as cheaper, was a restaurant called The Peking, which disappeared once West India Dock Road was widened, had a large fish tank from which one could select one’s dinner, and was presided over by a magnificent woman who was half-Chinese, a representative of the local Chinese community which was still in evidence in the early 1980s, but now may have gone.
Since it was such a spectacularly beautiful morning, I decided to potter round some of my old haunts in Limehouse where we used to live. I got a good view of 5, Newell Street which was, and remains, a monument to early post-modernism, designed by Tom Brent in 1977 when he bought the whole of Nelson’s Wharf as an experiment in semi-communal living:-
I walked down the Regent’s Canal and was struck by how hugely beneficial it is that, whether because of poverty or ecology, Tower Hamlets has allowed the verges of Mile End Park to run wild, so that Canary Wharf pops up out of an overgrown meadow:-