Paul Lincoln is a City of London guide and the editor of Landscape, the journal of the Landscape Institute.
September is a good month for open water swimming. I really enjoy Love Open Water based in the Royal Victoria Docks just next door to the new City Hall. Swimmers are surrounded by the city at is most eccentric. Views from the surprisingly choppy water include the Cable Car, the O2 Centre and Docklands Light Railway. Switch to backstroke and you can see the planes leaving London City Airport.
8 September marks the start of the London Open House Festival. On Golden Lane Estate, where I live, there will be guided tours on the Saturday. Best known as a celebration of homes and architecture, the festival also offers a great series of guided tours, many led by students of Open City’s Golden Key Academy – for which I am a mentor – training the next generation of guides. This year there is also a special course focused on the Royal Docks with tours led by local residents and those working in the area.
Tours include: The Fleet beneath your feet: a walk along London’s famous hidden river offering an astonishing view of the BT Tower; Fruit to Fashion: how a kitchen garden became a world-famous piazza, led by a former Covent Garden trader; Healthy City – looking at the historic architecture of healthcare; and Public spaces for private people with a fascinating insight into the City of London pedways. There are also tours on White City; Ian Nairn’s inner-city village; Feeding London; and Walthamstow.
Open water swimming is good for your health, but car-free streets and green infrastructure are even better. Significant investment in new landscape is taking place as part of the West End Project led by Camden Council, and the Strand-Aldwych project led by Westminster Council. Whitfield Gardens has become a new public square and Alfred Place Gardens a street turned into linear park. Strand-Aldwych removes traffic from Waterloo Bridge to Fleet Street replacing it with new trees and planting and restoring a sense of place to the two adjacent churches which have been lost in traffic for the past century.
John Grindrod is a brilliant writer on architecture and has followed up Concretopia with Iconicon – A Journey Around the Landmark Buildings of Contemporary Britain. He will be discussing it at a London Society event on 8 September.
And if you’re not in the mood for a swim, join me on 7 September or 8 October when I will be leading a new walk looking at the fast-changing eastern part of the City of London on behalf of the London Festival of Architecture and EC BID.
And on 29 October, I will be leading the Walls of London Tour for Open City. This follows the route of the Roman London Wall and looks at its relationship with some of the most fascinating new buildings in the City of London.
For more info about Open House Festival’s Golden Key Academy programme, please follow the links below: