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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.

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Exhibition Review – Only Human: Martin Parr at the National Portrait Gallery from 7 March to 27 May 2019

The National Portrait Gallery presents a new exhibition entitled Only Human: Martin Parr which features works by one of Britain’s best-known and acclaimed photographers.

The exhibition brings together some of Parr’s best known photographs with new work by Parr never exhibited before. The exhibition examines national identity, both in the UK and abroad with a special focus on Parr’s well known observations of Britishness.

Parr made his reputation as a photographer in the 1980s, exploring the world of leisure activities. Parr carries on this theme with photographs of trips to the beach, tennis tournaments and a day at the races. It is these places where the public and private meet and where people can play with their identities, dressing up in a variety of ways. Another popular theme for Parr is dancing, the photographer documents people dancing across the globe.

Although best known for his portraits of ordinary people, Parr has photographed celebrities throughout his career. The exhibition features a selection of portraits of personalities often in unusual settings, most of which have never been exhibited before, including Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith, Tracey Emin, Grayson Perry and Pelé.

A lesser known aspect of Parr’s work is his self-portraits, for over thirty years, Parr has visited studio photographers, street photographers and photo booths across the globe to have his portrait taken. The section entitled Autoportraits explores portraiture and portrait photography with a wide range of serious and humorous settings employed by professional portraitists.

Parr’s Photo Escultura is a group of shrine-like carved photo-sculptures commissioned from the last remaining traditional maker of this type of work in Mexico City.

The exhibition features a section of the British Abroad and Parr’s well known study of the British ‘Establishment’ including recent photographs taken at Christ’s Hospital school in Sussex, Oxford and Cambridge Universities and the City of London, revealing the eccentricities and ceremonies of elites in British life.

In the final room, new and previously unseen photographs reveals Parr’s documenting the social climate in the aftermath of the EU referendum.

The exhibition also includes a pop up ‘caff’ and shop which has lots of ‘paraphernalia’ developed from Parr’s photography.

This fascinating and entertaining exhibition provides plenty of evidence that the ‘British identity’ is often an ‘illusion’ produced for public display. In a public arena, people often dress up in a way that illustrates their ‘Britishness’. But how representative is this show of patriotic fervour ? Images like those in the exhibition seem to perpetuate and challenge stereotypes in equal measure. Underlying the humour of Parr’s work, there is serious questions of how ‘identity’ is forged by the individual and wider society.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information, visit the National Portrait Gallery 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

The Design Museum

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The Design Museum

Location –  28 Shad Thames, London SE1 2YD

The Design Museum is a small museum situated in the Butlers Wharf/ Shad Thames area near to Tower Bridge. The museum covers Industrial, Graphic, Fashion and Architectural design and when it was founded in 1989 claimed to be the first museum of modern design.

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The museum is based in an old warehouse but is unrecognisable as a warehouse due to its conversion into a Modernist style building . The museum is run as a registered charity and uses the money gained by the entrance fee to subsidise new exhibitions. The admission fee which will £ 12.40 in 2014 and its location perhaps explains why it only attracts a relatively small 200,000 visitors annually.

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Paul Smith Exhibition runs till March 2014

The Museum has exhibition spaces with some permanent and temporary  exhibits  and education areas which are used for talks and as a space for children and students.

Even if you do not want to pay to see the museum, access to the Shop and Café are free. The Blue Print Café is one of the many Terence Conran restaurants in the area which has wonderful views over the Thames.

Terence Conran has provided a substantial amount of funds to move the Museum to the old Commonwealth Institute in Kensington in 2015.

OPENING HOURS

Daily 10am – 5.45pm Last admission 5.15pm

The Design Museum is open on all bank and national holidays, except 25 and 26 December. On 24 December, the museum closes 2pm.

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