Mud Dock, Bristol

After a swim in Cleveden at high tide, I walked along the docks at Bristol.

I remember when “Watershed” was a kind of hippy place, half-derelict, half-dwelling, with a shop selling joss sticks, and a long smock-style dress in a wood-block print, that I should have bought. Or may be I did buy it. Or may be I agonised over the price, and waited, and thought, and now Watershed is a totally different place, with a cinema, and several bars, and they’ve mended the pavement outside, and parked yachts outside, and built a bridge.

The bridge leads past the art gallery called “Arnolfini” to the restaurant and bike shop called “Mud Dock”. I sat on a cast iron mooring post, and drew a picture.

Mud Dock, Bristol 22nd September 2021, 10″ x 8″ in Sketchbook 10

I did the pen and ink on location and added the colour back home at my desk.

This picture includes some collage: the slivers of paper on the bottom right are stuck on with rice glue. Underneath them, you see the “shadows” which I made by placing slivers of paper on the wet watercolour and waiting for them to dry.

The lift at Viking Bay, Broadstairs, Kent

Broadstairs is at the far end of Kent.

Location of Broadstairs, Kent. Map from openstreetmap

It is a Victorian seaside resort, with a sandy beach, and parks and a bandstand. The beach is below chalk cliffs, and those earnest Victorians provided their citizens with a fine lift to bring people between the sandy beach and the cliff top attractions. I was delighted, and surprised, to find this lift in full working order. While I made the drawing, the lift was used by a continuous stream of people.

The lift at Viking Bay, 17th September 2021, 8″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10

The whole time I was drawing, music floated down from above, a series of 1950s and 1960s classics, including Elvis’ rendering of “You were always on my mind”. This seemed somehow very poignant as I sat there in the sun on the sand.

When I finished the drawing, I used those sculptural stairs on the right of the lift to climb up to the top. A young family were waiting at the bottom. One of their number, a lad of about 8, came rolling along the boardwalk in his bright green wheelchair. He expertly negotiated the narrow door to the lift and shot inside. I reached the top as they all emerged, and the lad zoomed off along the smooth tarmac into the labyrinth of parks and bandstands at the higher level.

Access Thanet has protested against the closures of the Viking Bay lift since 2019 (Image Access Thanet)

The citizens of Broadstairs have fought hard to keep their lift open. The lift was declared “permanently closed” earlier this year (2021), and only re-opened after a sustained campaign by local people, notably “Access Thanet” (pictured)

It reopened in July 2021, according to an article in the “Isle of Thanet News”

Margate Wastewater pumping Station

I walked from Margate Railway station to Botany Bay. Out on a headland, I encountered this extraordinary building. Later, I went back to draw it.

Margate Waste Water Pumping Station 16th September 2021 18:30, 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10

You can see – I hope – that my viewpoint was low. I was sitting on the ground by the side of the road. The road is frequented by dog-walkers. I learned something from this low viewpoint: civilised dogs are not used to people sitting on the ground. Many of the dogs were loose, and came rushing up to me, barking in admonition, or alarm, or delight. The owner hurried after, calling in vain after their hound. The dog sat next to me, barking in alarm, or pride, depending on the breed. Either “Danger! Danger! There’s someone sitting on the ground!!” or, if an ancestral hunting dog, “Look, revered owner, what I have cleverly found here on the ground. You must have shot it. It’s my job, I think, to bring it to you?” The owners argued in vain against these inbuilt instincts, and eventually had to drag the dog away from its enemy, or its prey, depending on outlook and breeding.

I went on drawing. A man came by, without a dog. He looked at me, and looked at the building, and looked at my picture. Then he gave a kind of shrug which said “OK, right, I get it, you are drawing the sewage station.”

I replied to this implied comment by saying that it was an interesting building, or rather, I found it interesting. His response was, “1960s Soviet Brutalism without the politics” and I said yes, that put it well.

He said, without breaking his step, “I am good with words”. He said it as a matter of established fact, not a brag, not a hope, nothing sheepish or apologetic, just a description. I silently wondered if I should have recognised him: was this a well-known playwright, a poet, a newspaper columnist? He stopped for a moment. “But just with words,” he continued, with a gesture towards my painting equipment, “Not with a paintbrush.” He paused, to make sure I’d heard. Once his words had reached me across the still air of the road between us, he declared, “I’ll leave you to it!” and he strode off, leaving me puzzling. I think I’d just heard a compliment, but I wasn’t quite sure.

When I walked along this road in the daytime, I saw that there were a large number (about 8) of contractors’ vans and lorries parked outside the pumping station. The blue/grey rectangle in front of the pumping station is some kind of portakabin or works area.

I found out later that this pumping station had failed during the summer (2021), and let sewage into the sea, rendering local beaches useable. Southern Water issued an apology which said, amongst other things:

“Wastewater releases at times of heavy rainfall happen across the UK to protect properties from flooding. The release that happened overnight on 16 June was caused by a combination of heavy rainfall and lightning strike during the storms which caused a short power failure and affected systems on site at our Margate Water Pumping Station. Back-up generators are in place. As part of our preparations for the predicted thunderstorms and heavy rainfall we also had a team standing by in the area. These additional precautionary measures meant we were able to immediately begin work restoring the site to full operation. Unfortunately, we had to make this emergency release to protect local homes and businesses from internal flooding.”

A big notice on the pumping station said: “Margate and Broadstairs Resilience Phase 2, upgrade and improvements”. It seems as though improvements are much needed. I can start to understand how local people might have been a bit surprised that I was drawing this pumping station, cause of a recent local disaster.

Clifton House 75-77 Worship Street EC2

This is the building on the corner of Worship Street and Clifton Street, on the northern edge of the City of London.

Clifton House, 75-77 Worship Street, EC2, 13 September 2021, 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10
Location of the drawing

Holywell Street is to the left of the drawing. I sketched this from a bench in the little pedestrian square that now exists where Clifton Street meets Worship Street.

What is this building? Well, now it is inhabited by an organisation called “NEL NHS” according to the notice on the door. From what I can discover online, NEL stands for “North East London” and the organisation is an in-house consulting organisation for the NHS (the UK National Health Service). They are a “Commissioning Support Unit (CSU)” which means they supply services to, for example, GP practices, and area administrators of parts of the NHS. Computing projects and change programmes amongst the service offerings listed on their website. NEL is quite a big organisation. LinkedIn records it as having 967 employees of whom 457 work in London.

Clifton House circa 1920, from the website of the Tony and Sheelagh Williams Charitable Foundation.

That’s who’s there now. But the building has a history. It was built in 1900, for the printers Williams Lea. Williams Lea printed stamps, newspapers, and foreign language material. In the 1939-45 conflict, they printed UK government propaganda in German, which was dropped into Germany. They also printed the first copy of the Radio Times, in 1923, probably in this very building. Williams Lea has itself undergone various transformations, and is now called Perivan. The Perivan website has a history section which helpfully provided me with this information. (Note 1)

In 1978 Tony Williams took over the family business of Williams Lea. Under his leadership the business flourished. He took the decision

“to establish Williams Lea as a Financial Printer serving the City community with its specialist printing needs. This move coincided with the privatisations of many state-owned industries and utilities and in 1990 Williams Lea was awarded the printing for the privatisation of the electricity industry, one of the largest and most complex jobs of its type.” [https://www.tandswilliams.org/]

It did well. He sold the business in 2006, and with the money established a charitable foundation which exists today.

My drawing took 90 mins on location, with colour added later at my desk.

I spent a long time looking at this building. There are the large windows, which are also doors, so that large items can be lifted out from the different floors. Some of the windows have louvres for extraction fans.

There are many textures in the brickwork. Some cobwebs have been there a while.

Here is a 1945 map showing the location:

Map from “www.maps-of-london.com”

I sketched this location as a “microsketch” earlier this year:

Note 1: History of the building: references.

Pevsner LONDON 4: NORTH, page 525 refers to “Clifton House, at the corner of Clifton Street and Worship Street, another printers, (WIlliams Lea & Co) built 1900, five storeys, with handsome red brick arched windows.”

Perivan website: https://www.perivan.com/about-us/our-history/ Perivan say:

A Mr J E Lea became a partner of the business in 1864, and it was promptly renamed to Wertheimer Lea & Co. When John Wertheimer passed away in 1883, Mr J H Williams purchased his share (great grandfather of Philip Williams, who works within Perivan today). Over the years, J H Williams acquired the rest of the company and in 1899, Wertheimer Lea built a new factory in Worship Street, London, to consolidate 5 production sites. Now central London, at the time the new factory was built, it was possible to see fields from the top floor. The biggest USP was that all the machines were powered by electricity. The business was renamed in 1914 to Williams Lea to reflect the existing founders. A fun fact – Williams Lea printed the first edition of the Radio Times in 1923!……Throughout the wartime years, Williams Lea survived the blitz where many other printers did not. With its specialism in foreign language printing, this was understandably in very high demand at this point in history, and Williams Lea was heavily involved in the printing of propaganda materials in German which bombers distributed by throwing them out of aeroplanes over Germany – containing messages encouraging the enemy to give up. Williams Lee also printed newspapers for governments in exile in London, including Poland and Norway, and stamps for the Post Office.”

On a specialist postage stamp collectors site http://www.bermudastamps.co.uk/info/stamp-printers/ there is a reference to Williams Lea printing stamps:

“Williams Lea & Co
Contractor to De La Rue after their premises were bombed on 29th December 1940. William Lea & Co printed the Bermuda high value stamps during 1941.

Other historical information came from the website of the Tony and Sheelagh Williams Charitable Foundation.

Orkney sketches

Here are some sketches of Orkney, made during a visit earlier this month.

This is Stromness:

The seascapes and light were magnificent.

St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall is awe-inspiring.

These drawings are in two sketchbooks:

  • PrintUrchin Sketchbook 3, with Arches Aquarelle paper, 10″ x 8″ (landscape)
  • A long thin sketchbook with Khadi Paper, 12″ x 5″ (landscape)

Sketching on the journey to Orkney

We travelled to Orkney by train via Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

I carried a long thin sketchbook and made drawings along the way.

Here is my very long sketchbook, 12″ x 5″ made by Khadi Paper, and bought at Atlantis in Hackney, London.

A House in West London

I sketched these lovely houses in West London:

Houses in West London, 12″ x 9″ on Arches Aquarelle CP, [sold]

I enjoyed the television aerials, which look like runes or calligraphy, above the formal lines of the terrace of houses. The street was not as empty as I have drawn it. There were delivery vans coming and going, building work in progress, children being led to school, all manner of arrivals and departures.

I made a preliminary sketch, to make sure I’d understood the perspective. Here are photos of work in progress:

Guildhall Yard, London EC2

Here is the North West corner of the Guildhall Yard. The modern part is designed by Richard Gilbert Scott (note 1). What we are looking at, in pale concrete, is the Guildhall Library, and offices of the City of London Corporation. Behind it, you see the tops of the buildings on Wood Street.

In yellow stone, on the right of the drawing, is the old Guildhall, built in 1411 (note 2).

In the foreground you see the chairs, generously provided in the Guildhall Yard by the City of London, for public use. I commandeered a chair and a table and set myself up in a nice shady position next to the South East wall of the yard, between two gigantic plant pots.

Guildhall Yard, North West corner. 7th Sept 2021, 7″x10″ in Sketchbook 10

While I was drawing, someone took up residence the other side of the gigantic plant pot, and started a long and fascinating conversation on their phone. They were a recruitment agent, and embarked on a forceful sales pitch to a potential recruit. They were recruiting on behalf of a large bank in the City. They described the proposed future restructuring of said bank, and the nature of the forthcoming vacancy that was to be filled. They named the bank, which I will not do here. They aired details of the potential salary and work locations. After completing this gripping conversation, they immediately called a work colleague and gave an alarmingly candid opinion on the potential recruit they’d just been talking to. If you are thinking of having a conversation of this nature, the Guildhall Yard is perhaps not the most discrete place to choose!

At 3:45pm precisely, workers arrived and removed the chairs. I completed my drawing sitting on the flagstones.

This drawing took about 1½ hours, sketched and coloured on location. The main colours are Mars Yellow, Phthalo Blue Turquoise, and Transparent Brown Oxide, with some Perylene Maroon to make the greys. The chairs are Transparent Pyrrol Orange.

The screens, shown white in my drawing, advertise a performance of dance entitled “Black Victorians”, which is part of the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival.

Note 1: The obituary of Richard Gilbert Scott refers to his work on the Guildhall Art Gallery and the Guildhall West Wing. It is here: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/jul/12/richard-gilbert-scott-obituary

Note 2: The original Guildhall building has a long history, and has been rebuilt and enhanced several times, most recently after bomb damage in the 1939-45 conflict. Its original completion date of 1411 is quoted in this article from 1848: https://www.british-history.ac.uk/old-new-london/vol1/pp383-396

I’ve sketched around the Guildhall often. Also I’ve sketched 65 Basinghall Street, which is another design by Richard Giles Scott.

Guildhall North Wing

From the site of the former St Mary Aldermanbury, I looked across towards the Guildhall, the offices of the City of London. It is dark and green in the former Nave of the church, whose pillars you can see on the right.…

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Guildhall from St Mary Aldermanbury EC2

At the junction of Love Lane and Aldermanbury in the City of London, there is a small park. If you are in the area, it’s well worth a visit. The parklet is on the site of St Mary Aldermanbury. A large marble…

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Gaslight in Guildhall Yard

The winter evening settles down With smell of steaks in passageways. Six o’clock. The burnt-out ends of smoky days. And now a gusty shower wraps The grimy scraps Of withered leaves about your feet And newspapers from vacant lots; The showers beat…

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65 Basinghall St EC2 from the plaza

In a previous post I presented a drawing of 65 Basinghall Street done from the bridge which is on the North side of the building. Here is the south side. 65 Basinghall Street is the building in front, with the scalloped arches.…

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65 Basinghall St EC2 from the bridge

This is a view from the bridge over Basinghall Street, looking at the back of 65 Basinghall Street. There is much of interest in this view. There are the wonderful arching shell-like structures of 65 Basinghall Street. This was built in 1966-7…

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67 Redchurch Street E2, “Jolene” bakery

Jolene bakery is on the corner of Redchurch Street and Club Row.

Jolene, 67 Redchurch Street, from across the road. 19th August 2021. 10″ x 7″ in Sketchbook 10

This is a lively corner in a street on various edges: on the edge of the City, at the boundary between a new London and an old one, at the intersection of 21st century entrepreneurial culture and 19th century housing projects.

Redchurch Street is just North and West of Brick Lane. There are restaurants, independent clothes designers, hairdressers, and various 21st century businesses I couldn’t identify but categorised in my mind as broadly “creative”. It’s a good place to walk around, and Jolene is a great place to pause for coffee. They close at 3pm, though, so best be quick.

I arrived there at about 1pm today, and sat outside on one of their benches. Here’s the view looking up Club Row.

Looking North up Club Row, from “Jolene” Redchurch St. 9 September 2021, 2:45pm 10″ x 7″ in Sketchbook 10

Further North up Club Row, to the left of my drawing, is Arnold Circus. This is the centre point of the Boundary Estate which was the London County Council’s first social housing project, completed on 1900. I have drawn there and written about it here:

Haz St Pauls EC2

Here is the restaurant “Haz St Pauls“, 34 Foster Lane, London EC2.

“Haz St Pauls” Foster Lane, EC2, sketched from across the road, in Sketchbook 10, 11th August 2021

The restaurant has created a wonderful outside seating area on a part of the pavement. This corner has modern offices, the Haz restaurant, a coffee bar (Costa), and a church, St Vedast alias Foster. I sketched it from a new stone seat near St Pauls Underground station.

I have sketched St Vedast previously:

Here are some of my sketches of St Paul’s Cathedral, which was behind me as I sketched Haz.