I had to cross London Bridge on foot yesterday lunchtime. The views of the river with the HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge beyond always lift my spirits. I pulled out my camera and took a few pictures.
I may be revealing more about my way of looking at the world than is wise, but the way the Gherkin looms out over and between buildings in the City makes me think of Godzilla. Here it is again.
Billingsgate wholesale fish market relocated to Docklands some thirty years ago. All the lively noise and bustle went too. The new building can be easily identified as they copied the weather vanes from this nineteenth century version designed by Horace Jones. It’s one of my favourite riverside buildings in the City. Big organisations such as Tesco’s hire it as a Christmas party venue. You can hardly see the ironwork the next day for all the empty bottle crates piled up.
Horace Jones also had a hand in the design of Tower Bridge. A bascule bridge, it takes just ninety seconds to raise the two halves. No matter how many times I see the bridge opening, it remains a magical sight. The HMS Belfast in the foreground was built in Belfast at the Harland and Wolff shipyard, where the Titanic was also built. The Belfast was commissioned on St Patrick’s Day and after service in both the Second World and Korean Wars has become a floating outpost of the Imperial War Museum. For some reason, its guns are pointing at the Scratchwood Service Station on the M1. A bad snack perhaps?
Although quite small and cramped, the Belfast had a reputation as a very happy ship. The sailors had ships cats to keep down the mice and rats, and protect their stores. The cats had their own little hammocks. But my favourite cat story and the Belfast is about a cat called Frankenstein. He got his name because he spent so much of his life at sea, that when he went ashore, he still had his sealegs and would lurch about.