Above: The top of the tower of St James, Garlickhithe, peeping out behind the Victorian Brooke’s Wharf.
If you think that all of Wren’s spires and towers stand out clearly in the City, this ‘email stamp’ will put another slant on the situation. While some of Wren’s elegant spires are easy to see, others are gradually falling victim to large offices standing in their way. That is certainly the case with this one. Only the very top of the spire of St James, Garlickhithe, is visible. From the viewpoint on Blackfriars Station, much of the tower is obscured behind the Victorian warehouse known as Brooke’s Wharf, that stands right at the river’s edge, on the west side of Queenhithe. That warehouse is the only one from the 19th century to remain standing beside the Thames in the City. All the others were removed in the 1970s.
The background is essentially made up of three modern buildings. (1) Behind the spire is a dark grey wall of glass with large diagonal steel girders which is part of the modern office block erected on top of the concourse of Cannon Street Station. (2) On the skyline, the four steel curved objects on the left and the structure with two large pipes and a blue crane on top is part of the Lloyd’s Building, designed by Richard Rogers in the 1980s. The blue crane, by the way, is not part of another building project. It is one of three identical cranes which are mounted permanently on the building to aid maintenance. (3) The round-topped roof-lines, on the far right, are part of the offices of 20 Gracechurch Street. That building was, until about 2008, the headquarters of Barclay’s Bank which then relocated to a new even larger glass and steel office block at Canary Wharf.