Above: Excerpt from the Ordnance Map for Upper Thames Street for 1900.
Over the past few weeks, there have been 18 articles describing Upper Thames Street — an introduction and 17 locations each described with their own article. It is to be hoped that you have come to realise what an historic street it has been, with a history extending from late Saxon times, through Norman and Tudor times, into the 19th and 20th centuries and right up to the present time.
Although the street was widened in the 1970s, with the loss of much of its original historic charm, a few essential features still remain, if you know where to look. Some of these can be seen by walking along the river path — from London Bridge to Blackfriars Bridge. A few others need to be visited by exploring the side streets that run down to the dual-carriageway that is Upper Thames Street today.
From the excerpt of the Ordnance Survey map for 1900 shown above, it will be seen how narrow the pre-1970s Upper Thames Street was. The 1970s in the City planners persued a policy rather like that carried out after the Second World War, which was to tear down everything that got in the way of ‘progress’. When the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) was formed in 1981, they showed us a better way. Their approach in the Docklands area to ‘progress’ was to retain good Victorian architecture and apply modern design methods to re-use the old warehouses. Sadly, nearly everything along the City’s riverside that was built by the Victorians has been replaced. The concern is not that old buildings have gone but that what replaced them is of such poor design. The worst possible example of this is the overbearing and quite inappropriate Baynard House which can only be described as an eyesore when seen from the river. Its insensitive design is made all the worse since it is usually seen standing in front of the view of St Paul’s Cathedral. Further down-river, Mondial House (that used to stand beside Cannon Street Station) was taken down just a few years ago and replaced by the more appropriate Watermark Place. There is hope that the same fate might befall Baynard House and help make the riverfront in the City a little more interesting.
Subscription members can download (from the members Website) a specially prepared pdf version of the Ordnance Survey map of 1900 for the whole of Upper Thames Street. It is overlaid with all 17 places of interest that have been described throughout this series. In addition, a scaled section of the Agas map of c1561 has been laid alongside. This has been overlaid with ten street name plates showing the remaining links with places relevant to this part of the riverfront.