Stressful Streets: Concert Hall Approach

Although I adore London and love my job, life as a London cabbie can often be deeply frustrating and truly exasperating- usually thanks in no small part to the design and configuration of certain roads, junctions and systems within the capital’s sprawl.

traffic signals

This occasional new category within my blog will aim to highlight some of the London’s most punishing offenders.

And please forgive me if I appear to be moaning. This is simply a way of venting stress before my heart conks out…

Screaming Wolf

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Concert Hall Approach

Concert Hall Approach Signage

Concert Hall Approach, SE1

As a cabbie you’ll often find passengers flagging you down outside the Southbank’s Royal Festival Hall- it is one of London’s major cultural venues after all.

The Royal Festival Hall (image: Google)

The Royal Festival Hall (image: Google)

And in many cases those passengers will ask for a destination north of the Thames- which is fair enough; Waterloo Bridge looms close by and looks like an easy hop.

Peer at any map and you’ll see that Concert Hall Approach appears to offer the best route; a quick left turn out and you’re on the bridge.

Location of Concert Hall Approach (AZ imaging)

Location of Concert Hall Approach (AZ imaging)

Only it’s never, ever a quick left turn because the traffic lights at the end of Concert Hall Approach are ferociously timed.

Looking along Concert Hall Approach...

Looking along Concert Hall Approach…

When they’re on a red signal- which they always are- you may as well reach for a copy of War and Peace; you’ll find time to polish off several chapters. I’ve been known to sprout stubble whilst waiting at this light.

If you happen to find yourself stuck behind another unfortunate whilst waiting for Concert Hall Approach’s lights to change, nine times out of ten that driver will decide that the lights are not working and will inevitably nudge their vehicle through the red light.

Dangerous yes, but understandable if you’ve never experienced the phasing before. It’s that bad. And the only way to work around it? Drive under the bridge and tackle the IMAX roundabout- which also has lights to contend with. 

Concert Hall Approach. The traffic lights that time forgot.

The offending lights...

The offending lights…

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Candid Capital: Bubbles in the Basement

Bubbles in the Basement

Covent Garden Bubbles

A bubble machine at work on King Street, Covent Garden, February 2014

Great Loss of Life: Oceanic House & the Titanic Newsboy

Quietly sitting on Cockspur Street just yards away from Trafalgar Square is a grand Edwardian block known as Oceanic House.

Oceanic House

Oceanic House

The site was originally home to the Pall Mall restaurant where, on January 26th 1871 the Rugby Football Union was founded- an event now commemorated by a plaque.

Rugby Union plaque

Rugby Union plaque

Oceanic House was built between 1903 and 1906 as the London office for the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company- more commonly known as the White Star Line.

During their time, White Star operated many mighty vessels… the most famous being the luxurious RMS Titanic which sank during the early hours of April 15th 1912 whilst on her maiden voyage.

1,517 perished as a result.

The Titanic departs Southampton, 10th April 1912

The Titanic departs Southampton, 10th April 1912

Shortly after news of the Titanic’s fate reached shore one of the most iconic images associated with the disaster (and indeed the 20th century itself) was snapped outside London’s Oceanic House:

Newspaper boy bearing the  awful headline outside White Star's London office

Newspaper boy bearing the awful headline outside White Star’s London office, April 16th 1912

The newsboy clutching the poster was Ned Parfett, a 16 year old lad from Waterloo’s Cornwall Road.

In 1916, four years after the famous picture was taken, Ned enlisted in the army and soon found himself embroiled in the hellish trenches of the Great War.

Ned’s service was exemplary- he was awarded the Military medal for bravery.

Tragically, aged 22, Ned was killed by a shell on the 29th October 1918 just 13 days before the guns fell silent on the armistice.

Outside Oceanic House today... where Ned Parfett once bore newspapers announcing the fate of the Titanic

Outside Oceanic House today… where Ned Parfett once bore newspapers announcing the Titanic’s fate

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