Friday, October 25, 2013

Day 38 - Waterloo, Books, The Old Vic and a return to the Garden

Today we took the tube to Waterloo Station and walked about for a bit.

Waterloo Station Victory Arch
London Waterloo station is a central London railway terminus and London Underground station complex in the London Borough of Lambeth. It is one of 17 stations in Britain managed and operated by Network Rail, and is located near the South Bank of the River Thames. A railway station on this site first came into being in 1848, with the present structure inaugurated in 1922. Part of the station is a Grade II listed building.

With over 94 million passenger entries and exits between April 2011 and March 2012, Waterloo is Britain's busiest railway station by passenger usage. The Waterloo complex is one of the busiest passenger terminals in Europe, and the 91st busiest railway station in the world. It has more platforms and a greater floor area than any other station in the United Kingdom (though Clapham Junction, just under 4 miles (6 km) down the line, has the largest number of trains). It is the terminus of a network of lines from Surrey, Berkshire, Hampshire, South West England, and the south-western suburbs of London.

Eurostar trains out of Waterloo Station
From 1994 to 2007, Waterloo International station was the London terminus of the Eurostar international rail service. Waterloo International was managed and branded separately from the mainline station. Its 5 platforms were numbered from 20 to 24. The first Eurostar departure was on 14 November 1994 and the last service left at 18.12 GMT on 13 November 2007 for Brussels. From the next day Eurostar services used their new London terminus of St Pancras International, and four of the five Eurostar tracks out of Waterloo Station remain unused today.

In 2012 a new proposal for the future use of the Waterloo station was made, namely that it becomes the London destination of all the UK's sleeper trains. This may become necessary as the phasing out of Mk2 vehicles and their replacement with Mk3 will make the trains too long for the platforms at Euston, and construction of HS2 will make the long sleeper dwell times at Euston untenable. If the Paddington sleepers were also diverted this would concentrate all sleeper services at Waterloo International, thus making use of the former Eurostar lounge facilities for sleeper passengers.

Eurostar in St. Pancras
So, why was the Eurostar moved at a great expense from Waterloo Station to St. Pancras?  The original Channel Tunnel proposal was for a high speed railway all the way from London to Paris. By the time the tunnel itself got approved, however, the public was far less eager to spend money straight away on the new line through Kent (even though the French did build their part of the line). So Waterloo was chosen as the best way of getting Eurostar trains to London on existing tracks.

Later on, the case for building a proper high speed line was successfully made. A large number of route options were studied by British Rail and others. Since an entirely new line had to be built into London, the same constraints as for Waterloo didn't apply, so essentially the new terminus could be anywhere with (a) good onward connections and (b) room to build new platforms. As the most accessible place in London and having a large adjacent brownfield site ripe for redevelopment, St Pancras fit the requirements perfectly so this is why it was chosen.

Stratford East London - pre-Olympics
Politically it also helped that the new route not only served one depressed area marked for regeneration (at St Pancras) - it served another at Stratford in east London, and a third at Ebbsfleet in Kent. However, it didn't come cheap - depending on your measure, the redevelopment of St Pancras was around £600m-£1bn.

Stratford East London with Olympic Stadium
After we took a picture of Waterloo station, we snapped one of The Old Vic where James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave are appearing in a production of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.

The Old Vic
The Old Vic is located just south-east of Waterloo Station on the corner of The Cut and Waterloo Road. Established in 1818 as the Royal Coburg Theatre, it was taken over by Emma Cons in 1880 when it was known formally as the Royal Victoria Hall. In 1898, a niece of Cons, Lilian Baylis assumed management and began a series of Shakespeare productions in 1914. The building was damaged in 1940 during air raids and became a Grade II* listed building in 1951 after it reopened.

The name was also shared with a repertory company based at the theatre. The company formed the core of the National Theatre of Great Britain on its formation in 1963, under Laurence Olivier. The National Theatre remained at the Old Vic until new premises were constructed on the South Bank, opening in 1976. The building underwent complete refurbishment in 1985. In 2003 American actor Kevin Spacey was appointed as the new artistic director of the Old Vic Theatre Company.

After doing some shopping we walked around the area and shot a few more pictures. The first place we came across was St. John's Church.

St. John's Church in Waterloo
St John's Church, Waterloo, is an Greek Revival church in South London, built in 1822–24 to the designs of Francis Octavius Bedford. It is dedicated to St John the Evangelist, and under a benefice with St Andrews, Short Street.  The church is located in Waterloo, opposite the London IMAX, close to Waterloo Station and the campus of King’s College London.

BFI IMAX Theatre
The BFI (British Film Institute) London IMAX was designed by Bryan Avery of Avery Associates Architects and completed in May 1999. It sits in the centre of a roundabout on Waterloo Road. Stamford Street is to the north-east, York Road is to the south-west and Waterloo Bridge is to the north-west. The IMAX screen is the largest in Britain (20m high and 26m wide). It has a seating capacity of just under 500 and a 12,000 Watt digital surround sound system. Although the site is surrounded by traffic and has an underground line just four metres below, the architects and engineers accounted for this in their design and the entire upper structure sits on anti vibration bearings to prevent noise transference.

The cinema won several awards at the time of opening, including a Design Council Millennium Product Award in 1999 and a Civic Trust Award in 2000.

In 2012, the screen was replaced and a digital IMAX projector was installed alongside the existing 70mm projector. In July 2012, the BFI announced that Odeon Cinemas had been selected to operate it for the next five years. This gives customers the opportunity to watch Operas on the giant screen. The BFI will retain a great deal of power over the cinema's operation, however, including parts of the film schedule and the technical operation, so the name of the building will remain the same.

We then caught the RV1 bus back to Covent Garden and met some Spanish-speaking tourists who were seeking Covent Garden as well, so we helped them get there.  Hubby tried to teach the gentleman how to read bus maps, but he spoke little English.  Even so, I think he understood.  Maybe.  They were grateful for the assistance and parted with us once we reached the Garden.  We walked into the center courtyard to find it decorated for Christmas already.

Covent Garden dressed for Christmas
We listened to the musicians for a while, then walked back to the flat where hubby prepared an excellent meal of roast chicken breasts, buttered potatoes with parsley, chives and mint, string beans and a mixed salad with cherry tomatoes and red onion.  Note the obligatory glass of wine, and guess whose plate he photographed.

Chicken Dinner
 Dinner was wonderful, so now I'm going to check e-mail, do a little work and call it a night.  Not sure what will happen tomorrow, but I've got Saturday Spankings to look after as well as read a few more Spank or Treat entries, which are wonderful excerpts.  If you're interested in reading some, go to my Naughty Blog and check out my Spank or Treat entry.  The other authors are all listed at the bottom in a small table.

Until tomorrow, good night.

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