Sunday, 21 September 2014

Open House London 2014

This weekend properties in London that are normally closed to the public have been flinging their doors open so inquisitive people like me can enjoy some time poking around inside their private spaces. It's been a few years since I've been able to indulge this interest so I was quite excited at the prospect of joining an enormous queue of like-minded souls bent on oohing and aahing at high ceilings and impressive windows. I have in the past spent hours queuing to get into the Foreign & Commonwealth Office or mooched around Three Mills Island.

This time I headed for the Canary Wharf Crossrail station which is currently under construction. This very large site is merely a small part of a colossal engineering project taking place as far afield as Reading to the west of London and Shenfield to the east. When Crossrail is complete it will reduce the time it takes to travel into and out of the Capital. For example it can take us up to two hours to travel to Heathrow airport from where we live in Hackney. Travelling by Crossrail should cut that by about half which will be great but it's not going to be finished until 2018.

For the last few years London has been full of vast holes while tunnels have been dug and platforms built but there has been nothing to see for all this labour apart from hoardings so this was a chance to peek behind them. Our next door neighbour visited the same site last year and warned me that she had queued for three hours to get in so, bearing that in mind, I set off fairly early and was surprised to find there was no queue to join. I simply wandered around with a gaggle of other people taking photos and admiring the views. The tunnelling is complete, the platforms exist, the tracks are laid but you can't actually see them behind the boarding. The ticket hall is very large and impressive and the positions for the escalators are in place. All they have to do is finish it!
An unfinished roof
Looking towards the City of London
The Roof Garden - a public space due to open in 2015
The Roof Garden as a construction site
The ticket hall - the point where you will need to have paid
The platform
On the way out


Jacqui Boyd said...

I was on the train to Rochester last Friday to see my sister (already seems so long ago) when the guy opposite me starting conversing and he mentioned this event. It would have been great to take part. People really don't realise how great Britain is for this kind of access. Here, even walking in a field is fraught with difficulties due to private ownership.
Is this the reason the area around Victoria station seems to have boarded up for last x number of years. Every time I go there, there seems to be extensive work being done.

Heather James said...

It's affecting Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road but that isn't to say that they are not working around Victoria too. It's hard to say but there is a very big building site in Victoria Street which I think is just more offices and shops.

There is also a giant construction site at Lewisham to do with Crossrail but they are not getting a new station (as far as I know).