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A Short Guide to the Southbank Centre

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The Southbank Centre

Location – Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX

The Southbank Centre is one of the premier Art and Culture venues in London, it is located on the South Bank of the Thames. The centre consists of three main venues (the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Hayward Gallery. It also has a number of smaller performance spaces such as the Purcell Room and Poetry Library.

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Bust of Nelson Mundella at Southbank Centre

The Southbank Centre has its origins in the 1951 Festival of Britain which was built on this site, however a large number of buildings were only temporary, a notable exception being the Royal Festival Hall. Other buildings were added in the 1960s and 1970s until it was decided in the 1980s to rename the complex the Southbank Centre. The Centre is a favourite of many Londoners despite its concrete and rather grey exterior. Recent changes have included a wide range of restaurants and a number of outside exhibitions which has added to the attraction of the Southbank has a meeting place and social hub even if you are not attending one of the events in the centre. It is one of the most visited artistic venues in London with over three million visitors each year. It puts on over a thousand performances of Music, Dance and Literature annually and an amazingly wide range of performing arts. One of the more unusual aspects of the centre is the Skate park situated in the undercroft, although this has developed independently of the centre it has become a mecca for Skateboarders in London.

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For the visitor to London, the Southbank not only offers a wide range of attractions but is ideal to sit in the large foyers with a coffee and watch the world go by.

Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery closed on 21 September 2015 for two years of essential repair and maintenance.

During this time, Southbank Centre’s classical programme continues at Royal Festival Hall with chamber performances taking place at St John’s Smith Square

To find out about the wide range of events at the Southbank Centre visit their 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 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 the Royal Festival Hall

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Royal Festival Hall

Location – Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX

Royal Festival Hall is the large auditorium with seating for 2500 people which is situated within the Southbank Centre complex.
Opened in 1951, the Royal Festival Hall is a Grade I listed building which has become one of London’s major performance venues.The Hall is primarily known for its Classical Music concerts attracting most of the World’s most famous orchestra’s and finest performers.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment are resident in the hall.
However it is also used for all types of music concerts and for conferences and major cultural events.

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For the latest information about events, visit the Southbank Website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and the 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

BFI Southbank (National Film Theatre)

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BFI Southbank under Waterloo Bridge

Location – Belvedere Road, South Bank, London SE1 8XT

The National Film Theatre was initially part of the Festival of Britain in 1951 in a temporary building before it was moved to its present site in 1957.
In 2007 the National Film Theatre was repackaged as BFI Southbank taking over the premises that had been used by Museum of Moving Image.
Under the auspices of the BFI (British Film Institute), the complex has now become much more of a cultural hub dedicated to Film.

As well as the three separate auditorium, it now includes a studio, a Médiathèque,  a gallery space, shop,  bar and restaurant.

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Reuben Library

The BFI Reuben Library and Mediatheque is free to all who wish to  browse the extensive collections and the shop is renown for its wide selection of Film related books.
In a ever changing programme of events, find out what’s on and buy tickets by clicking here

For practical advice for your visit to London and Special offers go to visitinglondonguide.com

A Short Guide to the Queen Elizabeth Hall

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Queen Elizabeth Hall

Location – Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX

The Queen Elizabeth Hall (QEH) is the second largest venue in the Southbank Centre complex, the Queen Elizabeth Hall auditorium has around 900 seats with the nearby Purcell Room has 360 seats.

The QEH was part of the Festival of Britain complex built in 1951 and hosts mainly Classical, Jazz and Avant-Garde Music and Dance performances.

The Purcell and Front Room in the QEH complex are popular for more small scale readings , talks and concerts.

The Hall features a great concrete frontage over the Thames along the side of the auditorium at roof level.

Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery closed on 21 September 2015 for two years of essential repair and maintenance.

During this time, Southbank Centre’s classical programme continues at Royal Festival Hall with chamber performances taking place at St John’s Smith Square

For the latest information about events, visit the Southbank Website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and the 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

A Short Guide to the National Theatre

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The National Theatre Complex with the temporary Shed (Red Box)

Location – South Bank, London, SE1 9PX.

The National Theatre is the home of one of the most prestigious Theatre companies in the United Kingdom, based on the South Bank of the Thames.

The National Theatre company was formed in 1963 and was based from that date until 1976 at the Old Vic Theatre. The National Theatre complex was designed by architects Sir Denys Lasdun and Peter Softley and structural engineers Flint & Neill and contains three stages which opened between 1976 and 1977.

Highly controversial at the time, it received a lot of criticism for its ‘Brutalist’ concrete blocks approach, despite the controversy, the theatre has been a Grade II listed building since 1994.

The complex has three separate auditoriums, The Olivier Theatre is the largest with seating for 1160 people, the Lyttelton Theatre which can accommodate 890 people and finally the Cottesloe which is a small studio seating around 400 people.

From February 2013 the Cottesloe was closed for refurbishment to be reopened in 2014. To compensate for this loss a temporary studio had been built call the Shed which is housed in a large red box building.

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Sir Laurence Olivier

The theatre strives to present a varied programme including Shakespeare, International Classics, and Contemporary Plays.

Numerous highly acclaimed productions have been presented on the National Theatre stages and most of the famous actors and actresses of their day have appeared on its stages.

To find out about present productions and book tickets, visit the National Theatre website  here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and the 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

OXO Tower

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OXO Tower Wharf

Location – Bargehouse Street, South Bank, London, SE1 9PH

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The OXO Tower is located on the South Bank of the Thames and is often overlooked due to it proximity to the South Bank cultural hub and Bankside. However the OXO Tower Wharf has an intriguing history of its own.

The OXO Tower Wharf started life in around 1900 as part of a power station on the site that supplied electricity to the Post Office. In the later 1920s the site was purchased by the Liebig Extract of Meat Company who were famous for their famous OXO cubes. The company demolished a large part of the power station but extended the riverside frontage. The architect in charge of the project was Arthur Moore who built the building in an Art Deco style, however part of his remit from the company was to build a tower with illuminated signs advertising their famous product. When permission for these illuminated signs was refused, Moore came up with an ingenious solution, his tower included  sets of windows which just happened to be in the shape of OXO.

The building in the late 20s was known as Stamford Wharf and the Liebig company had their meat delivered by barge into the massive cold stores where it was processed.

By the 1970s, like a large number of riverside wharfs, the site became virtually derelict and several plans were submitted to demolish the site.

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In the 1980s there was a local movement to reinvigorate the Thames riverfront and develop the site. Coin Street Community Builders was created as a social enterprise and development trust to develop the South Bank for local communities.

Eventually they transformed the OXO Tower Wharf by building a mixed use facility which included shops, galleries, restaurants, cafes and bars. Many of the shops and galleries are let to small independent businesses and artists.

They let the rooftop space to Harvey Nichols to create the OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar and Brassiere.

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To find out more about the OXO Tower visit their website here

For practical advice and Special Offers for your London Visit go to visitinglondonguide.com

Review : London Dungeon

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Location – County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7P

The London Dungeon is a London Attraction based in the old County Hall on the South Bank of the Thames. Through a series of live shows, special effects, rides and computer graphics it illustrates many of the more gruesome aspects of 1000 years of London History.

The London Dungeon was created in 1974 as a museum of macabre history, however in recent years has become more a live action interactive show with emphasis on horror and humour.

In the stocks at the London Dungeon 3

Owned by the Merlin Entertainments who also run  the Sea Life London Aquarium, Madame Tussauds and London Eye. The London Dungeon only moved to its present home in 2013 from its previous home in Tooley Street, London Bridge which was its home for 39 years.

The London Dungeon offers an interactive view of history, where the visitors often play an active part in the entertainment. One you enter the dark entrance of the Dungeon  you are taken to a medieval lift and descend into a subterranean world, you then enter a dark tunnel where you find yourself  with some of the characters from the Gunpowder Plot beneath the Houses of Parliament in 1605.

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After meeting Guy Fawkes you will join Anne Boleyn for a boat ride to the Tower, be given a quick lesson in torture and then transported to 1665 to find London suffering from the Black Plague.

The Plague Doctor's assistant at the London Dungeon

If you escape the leeches, you will wander down Bazalgette’s Sewer to Mrs Lovett’s Pie Shop. You probably will not be tempted to taste the pies once you see the ingredients and if you are lucky you will escape a close shave with Sweeney Todd.

19th Century Whitechapel is the next port of call where you learn about the reign of Jack the Ripper and after a confusing walk down the streets you arrive at the Ten Bells Pub on a stormy night. If you think you are safe, think again as the lights go out.

Now is the time for your trial, as you enter the Courtroom and come face to face with the Judge, if you are guilty you will end up at the Newgate Gallows and the Drop Dead Drop Ride to Doom.

London Dungeon with its actors, special effects, stages, scenes and rides is a very different attraction, it is a sort of ‘horrible histories’ with added horror and gore. It is intentionally dark and atmospheric with visitors often disorientated by the tunnels and passages, historic London is recreated in a number of sets and the actors guide you from scene to scene. There are some genuine shocks and surprises with a number of special effects to illustrate the often macabre history of London.

It is safe to say that London Dungeon will not appeal to everyone, it is not recommended for children under 8, visitors who are under 16  years of age must be accompanied by an adult over 18 years of age and if you are of a nervous disposition it is probably not for you.

However the attraction is very popular with many visitors who like to experience a scary and humorous  90 minute journey through 1000 years of London’s murky past.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Recommended

VLG Tip – As with many attractions in this area, long queues are evident at peak times, therefore it is to your benefit to pre book and look for combined offers with other attractions.

If you would like to find out more information, visit the London Dungeon 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 January, we attract 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