After dinner at Oxo tower we decided to walk along the South Bank up to Big Ben and the Parliment building. The idea of a public park/pedestrian area grew out of Patrick Abercrombie's 1943-4 County of London Plan which proposed that much of the land along the river should be converted from industry to Public Buildings, Business and Public Open Space. The 1951 Festival of Britain led to the first section of the walk, running east from Westminster Bridge. A more extensive walkway was conceived as part of the 1977 Jubliee Walkway, to mark the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 1977. The walk was completed with the opening of London Bridge City in 1990. In 1996, the Queen's Walk became part of the Thames Path national trail through London. With the opening of the London Eye and the Millennium Bridge (connecting Tate Modern to St Paul's Cathedral) the volume of pedestrian traffic on the Queen's Walk increased dramatically.
As you can see from the map, we started out about half way through the walk at Oxo Tower and the adjacent Bernie Spain Gardens.
There are a lot of restaurants and shops lining the walk with art punctuating the walk like this pair in front of the National Theater.
At Southbank Centre they have skateboarding, lots of shops and restaurants and the Hayward Gallery, Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Royal Festival Hall. They are apparently having a summer festival with lots of events and activities including the Queen's Walk Window Gardens seen above.
Once you pass the Hungerford bridge, you pass to the Jubilee Gardens and the London Eye. The white footbridges on Hungerford bridge were opened in 2002, they run on both sides of Hungerford Railway Bridge and use Isambard Kingdom Brunel's original 1845 buttresses. I particularly liked the inscription on the Jubalee Oracle and of course the gaudy carousel.
The London Eye adjoins the western end of Jubilee Gardens on the South Bank of the River Thames between Westminster Bridge and Hungerford Bridge, in the London Borough of Lambeth. The entire structure is 135 metres (443 ft) tall and the wheel has a diameter of 120 metres (394 ft). It is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe, and the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom, visited by over 3.5 million people annually. The wheel's 32 sealed and air-conditioned ovoidal passenger capsules, designed and supplied by Poma, are attached to the external circumference of the wheel and rotated by electric motors. Each of the 10-ton capsules represents one of the London Boroughs, and holds up to 25 people, who are free to walk around inside the capsule, though seating is provided. It takes about 30 minutes for one rotation.
County Hall, built in 1922, was the headquarters for the Greater London Council until it was abolished in 1986. Regularly in conflict with Central Government the facade of the building acted as a giant billboard for anti-government slogans. County Hall is now a tourist venue with millions of visitors each year seeing the attractions, eating in the cafes or staying in the hotels. It has an aquarium on three floors in 14 themed zones, home to 500 species of fish from all over the world. Over 2 million litres of water and deep tanks allow the fish to swim freely and be closely observed.
At the end our walk, we came upon Big Ben and the Parliment building at sunset. Westminster Bridge, opened in 1862, is now the oldest bridge across the river Thames in London. The original Westminster Bridge, built in the reign of George II, started to sink and was replaced. The South Bank Lion weighs 13 tons and is over 150 years old. It was one of three lions which stood above the entrance to the old Lion Brewery, where the Royal Festival Hall now stands.
By the time we made it to the Parliament building it was sunset. The Houses of Parliament, otherwise known as the Palace of Westminster, symbolises Great Britain. Its image adorns everything from souvenirs to sauce bottles. And the decisions made in its corridors of power have shaped Britain, past and present. The building that sits today on the banks of the Thames is the New Palace, built between 1840 and 1870. But within its walls is the Great Hall (or Westminster Hall), all that remains of the medieval Old Palace. Long unfit for purpose, the opportunity to create a new palace came in 1834, when a fire destroyed most of the old structure. The winner of the competition to rebuild was Sir Charles Barry who worked alongside Augustus Pugin to create today’s Perpendicular Gothic building, containing 1,100 rooms around two courtyards. It covers eight acres with 266 meters of river frontage. Standing at the end of the main building is the clock tower, home of the bell affectionately known as Big Ben. Sadly, neither Barry nor Pugin lived to see the New Palace finished.
Queen's Walk Window Gardens: http://www.timeout.com/london/things-to-do/festival-of-neighbourhood-queens-walk-window-gardens
South Bank Center: http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/
London Eye: http://mobile.londoneye.com/