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Monthly Archives: August 2019

Days out from London: Thorpe Park Resort

Thorpe Park Resort, also known as Thorpe Park, is a theme park located near the town of Staines-upon-Thames in Surrey. The Thorpe Park Estate was  demolished the 1930s and the site was neglected until the 1970s. Thorpe Park Resort was officially opened to the public in 1979 and since then has grown into one of the major theme parks in the UK.
In the 21st century, the resort attracts around 1.5 million each year and targets teenagers and young adults with a series of attractions like the large water ride Tidal Wave, rollercoasters including Colossus, Nemesis Inferno, Stealth, Saw – The Ride, The Swarm, The Walking Dead: The Ride and  Derren Brown’s Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon.
Thorpe Park is zoned into eight zones or territories called Port and Basecamp, Amity, The Jungle, Angry Birds Land, Old Town, Lost City, Swarm Island and The Dock Yard.
Port and Basecamp
The ‘Port’ or ‘Basecamp’ area is the entrance area where visitors enter the park. Inside the entrance is the Dome which houses an arcade area, food and beverage outlets, toilets, lockers and Gift Shop.
Amity
Amity is set up as a 1950s-era American fishing village hit by a tidal wave and opened with Tidal Wave in 2000.  The area was expanded in 2006 with Stealth, set at ‘Amity Speedway’ racetrack. Other attractions include Depth Charge, Wet Wet Wet, Amity Beach outdoor water park, Flying Fish, Storm In A Teacup and raft water ride Storm Surge.
The Jungle
The area’s main attractions are Nemesis Inferno, Rumba Rapids, Mr Monkey’s Banana Ride and Detonator:Bombs Away.
Angry Birds Land
Angry Birds Land attractions include Dodgems.
The Dock Yard
This area is known for Derren Brown’s Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon and also contains The Walking Dead: The Ride.
Lost City
The Lost City attractions include Colossus roller coaster, Vortex, Zodiac, Quantum and Rush.
Old Town
The main rides in this area is Saw – The Ride, Samurai, Timber Tug Boat, Lumber Jump and Rocky Express.
Swarm Island
Swarm Island is the location for The Swarm rollercoaster which is themed as the scene of an apocalyptic disaster with crashed plane and destroyed church.
The park has a number of events throughout the year including a special Halloween event which often has a horror movie theme.
Thorpe Park is popular with teenagers and young adults, it is less geared to families with young children although there are a few rides for this age group. If you have younger children, the nearby Legoland Windsor offers much more variety and rides for their enjoyment.
A shuttle bus service runs from Staines Bus and Railway station to Thorpe Park but can get very busy with long queues at peak times.
For more information or book tickets, visit the Thorpe Park website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in  2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

London Shopping: Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
Coal Drops Yard is a retail development that is part of the King’s Cross Central development scheme and is the latest part of the development to use old industrial buildings and adapting them for the 21st century.
© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
The coal drops were sheds that received coal shipments, mostly from the north of England by train and then were transferred to waiting narrowboats on the Regents Canal and to horse-drawn carts. In the Victorian times, coal was the main form of energy to heat and light the buildings of London.
© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
The coal drops were built in the mid 19th century and were part of a large industrial complex which included stables for up to 1500 horses. By the end of the 19th century, the coal drops became obsolete and the buildings were used for warehousing. In the last part of the 20th century, some of the disused warehouses were used to stage illegal raves and were used as bars and clubs. By the 21st century, the rave scene had run its course and the warehouses became derelict again.
© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
As part of the large development of the King’s Cross Central site, Argent group appointed Thomas Heatherwick as architect for the redevelopment of the Coal Drop Yards as a retail park in 2014. Work was completed and the development opened in 2018.
The £100m project converted the listed Victorian sheds into a new high-end, 9,290 sq metre, shopping complex, Thomas Heatherwick developed a way to bring together the two converging arcaded sheds with a ‘kissing roof. The slate used in the roof comes from the same seam in the same Welsh slate quarry as was used in the original roof.
© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
The retail development has nearly 10000 square metres of shopping space in different size units with a mix of independent shops and global brands from home and abroad. Altogether there are over 50 shops, bars & restaurants in Coal Drop Yards, these include Diesel, Fred Perry, Paul Smith, Wolf & Badger, Barrafina, Le Café Alain Ducasse, Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse, Botanical Boys, Samsung KX, Tom Dixon and much more.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean
What sets this retail development apart is the way that the Victorian industrial buildings give the place character, it seems a world away from the rather soulless shopping centres with the canal adding even more interest. The King’s Cross area has been totally changed in the last 25 years from one of the most depressing parts of the capital to an area full of interest and a welcome diversion to those using the nearby train stations.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

A Short Guide to Charing Cross Railway Station

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Charing Cross railway station was planned as the London terminus of the South Eastern Railway (SER), it was built on the site of the former Hungerford Market next to The Strand. It was decided that the station would be directly connected to Waterloo by a new bridge which was completed in 1863.

The station was designed by Sir John Hawkshaw, and featured a single span wrought iron roof, 510 feet (155 m) long and 164 feet (50 m) wide, over six platforms. The station was built on a brick arched viaduct and the space below the station has been used for a variety of uses.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Charing Cross station opened in 1864 and The Charing Cross Railway company became part of South Eastern Railway. The frontage of the station was taken up by the Charing Cross Hotel which was designed by Edward Middleton Barry and opened in 1865. The hotel had 250 bedrooms spread over seven floors and extended along Villiers Street. Its location led to its success and a 90-bedroom annexe was built on the other side of Villiers Street which opening in 1878. A bridge over the street connected the two parts of the hotel together.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

In 1887, Hungerford Bridge was widened to provide three more tracks into the station. In 1899, the SER merged with the London, Chatham and Dover Railway to form the South Eastern and Chatham Railway (SECR). At roughly the same time as the building of the hotel, a replica of the Eleanor Cross designed by Edward Middleton Barry was commissioned for the station forecourt. The original Eleanor Cross was built in 1291 and demolished in 1647 and distances in London are officially measured from the original site of the cross. That site now has a statue of Charles I and is still considered the centre of London.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

After its opening, Charing Cross became the main terminus of all SER services including boat trains to Continental Europe. Along with Victoria, it became the main departure point from London to overseas destinations. In 1913 it was possible to travel from Charing Cross to Paris in six and a half hours.

In 1905, the station was the scene of a tragic incident when a 70-foot part of the original roof collapsed, it was possible for the trains and platforms to be evacuated before the roof and girders crashed to the floor. The collapse of part of the wall through the roof of the neighbouring Royal Avenue Theatre caused six fatalities.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Due to its international connections, Charing Cross played an important part in World War I as the main departure point for the military towards the Western Front. The station was also used to receive the sick and wounded before sending them to hospitals around the country.  On 26 December 1918, shortly after the war, the US President Woodrow Wilson met King George V at Charing Cross and there is a plaque to mark this meeting. After the First World War, Charing Cross declined as an international terminal.

Since the late 19th century, people had suggested Charing Cross should be demolished for the valuable land to be reused. In the 1920s, plans were put forward to move the station to the south side of the Thames. Charing Cross sustained considerable damage during the Second World War and was forced to close on a number of occasions. Despite these setbacks, Charing Cross has survived into the 21st century  and is now an important part of the London transport network.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

From the 1970s and 1980s, the station has been modernised with much of the area developed into a office and shopping complex designed by Terry Farrell.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

London Sculptures : Sherlock Holmes by John Doubleday in Baker Street

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

One of London’s  most famous fictional characters is Sherlock Holmes created by Arthur Conan Doyle, despite his fame, there was no statue to the great detective in London until 1999. A statue was previously suggested by a number of writers including G. K. Chesterton but these suggestions came to nothing.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

A campaign for a statue gained momentum in the late 1990s with Abbey National offering to fund the statue because of their connection with Holmes. Abbey National had their headquarters at 215-229 Baker Street and they employed a member of staff to respond to any letters addressed to Holmes at 221B.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The sculptor, John Doubleday who was commissioned for the project had already produced a statue of Holmes for the town of Meiringen in Switzerland, below the Reichenbach Falls whence the detective fell to his apparent death in the story “The Final Problem”.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The 3-metre-high (9.8 ft) statue entitled The Great Detective depicts Holmes wearing his deerstalker hat and holding a pipe in a traditional pose made famous by Sidney Paget, the illustrator of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories for The Strand Magazine.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The statue which was unveiled in 1999 is located outside Baker Street Station and has became a popular attraction for Sherlock Holmes fans from all over the world.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

Hidden London: Southbank Undercroft Skate Space

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Many visitors to the London Southbank may be surprised by skateboarders doing their tricks under the Southbank Centre. They may even more surprised that skateboarders have been using this space for nearly 50 years and it has gained a reputation as London’s iconic skateboarding site.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

For many years, the skateboarders were tolerated but not encouraged and in plans to redevelop the Southbank Centre, it was considered to use the space for other uses. However a long running campaign and a successful fundraising exercise has bought official recognition.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The local community of skateboarders, BMXers, Graffiti Writers and other creatives approached Southbank Centre in 2013 and 2014 and a partnership was formed to develop the space. After planning permission was granted, £1.1 million was raised in a joint fundraising campaign. From July 2019, Long Live Southbank (LLSB) and the Southbank Centre have opened sections of the Southbank Undercroft Skate Space which have been closed to the public since 2005. This marks a joint commitment to reopen and promote the space as a skateboarding site.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The work has restored Southbank’s little banks, one of the most important sites in UK skateboarding history. The work will also restore the wooden ledge, a large area of flatground and create a new jersey barrier for skaters to use in the space.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Various events have been planned to celebrate this official opening of the new areas and plans are being developed to consider the skateboarding future of the space.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here