Unusual Views over City Rooftops

One of the consolations of having a City day job is the chance to get from office receptions views that are not available to the public. This might be considered zero consolation by those who deride the wage-slave, but it is something at least.

So here are three views, with slight apologies for the limitations of shots taken through a window and from a mobile phone:

East, across the Smithfield rooftops

This was a few days before the snow

The Smithfield wholesale meat market, built in 1868 under the direction of the City Surveyor, Horace Jones, still goes strong as a central London meat market despite the demise, or rather relocation, of its fish, and fruit and vegetable, cousins.

Overnight, menacingly huge refrigerated lorries park up ready for the early – and I mean early, as in 4am – opening of the market. They will be joined by a throng of club goers, as Smithfield is on the edge of the cool designer quarter of Clerkenwell.

And if you have the stamina for an all-nighter, then some pubs nearby will open early for a pint and breakfast. However, the 4am opening time seems to be a myth, with 7am appearing now to be the general time, just of course in time for Clerkenwell man to nosh up before heading to the office.

As to pubs, I especially like The Bishop’s Finger on the south side of the Market – a Shepherd Neame establishment (shades of my youth in Kent) with pleasant bar staff.

East, over Broadgate

A cold and gloomy day

This is not so spectacular, but it has an interesting structural story attached to it.

The angular building that is the principal subject of the photo, is Broadgate Tower on Primrose Street. Built in 2009 under a design by Skidmore Owings Merrill, it replaced the former Broadwalk House.

To understand the story you would need to look at the adjoining building known as 201 Bishopsgate (not directly seen in the picture, but follow the link), a relatively squat 12 storey building alongside the 33 storey Broadgate Tower, the two buildings being linked by large “A” frames (again see link).

The interesting fact is that both buildings are the same weight. And the reason for this is that the design is to provide structural balance to the raft that supports the buildings and sits above the railway tracks of Liverpool Street Station below...

It’s worth going to have a look.

East, from the edge of Fetter Lane

And another freezing day in London's big chill of winter

The centrepiece is naturally St Paul’s Cathedral. Around London there are various controlling sight lines, for example, a point in Richmond Park, and no building can be constructed that would interfere with the view of the Cathedral along those sight lines, whether in terms of blocking the view or framing it from behind.

However, here you definitely see some framing, from the 37 floor 20 Fenchurch Street, under advanced stages of construction.

We Londoners love our nicknames, and 20 Fenchurch Street has not surprisingly been dubbed “The Walkie Talkie”, due to being 16m wider at its peak than at its base; it also carries the suggestive marketing tag that it is the building “with more up top” (or maybe it is a reference to intellect).

And rising to the left is The Pinnacle at 22-24 Bishopsgate, to have 60 floors (but only 6 car parking spaces). The name is smart enough, but has not stopped the imagination that created The Walkie Talkie, so The Helter Skelter has emerged.

Finally is it a flight of fancy to see two bug eyes on stalks above the roof, creating a vast monster? OK, maybe too many watchings of The War of the Worlds..

The author is a City of London and City of Westminster Guide, who runs walking tours in the City and in Westminster. See tabs for further details.

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