London Television Centre SE1

Here is a view of the London Television Centre, 60-72 Upper Ground, SE1. It is on the South Bank of the river Thames, a little to the East of the National Theatre and the Royal Festival Hall. It was completed in 1972 to the design of Elsom Pack & Roberts.1

London Television Centre, 30 November 2021, 10″ x 7″ in Sketchbook 11

Appreciate this building while you can – it is bring demolished. Admire the variety of the sloping roofs, the unexpected angles, the terraces overlooking the river. Appreciate the unexpected finish: it is covered in tiny, white, glistening tiles.

The history of this and two other buildings due for demolition is documented in the excellent “London Inheritance” post: Three Future Demolitions. (May 16th 2021).

The planning application reference is “21/02668/EIAFUL” submitted to Lambeth Council on 5th July 2021. It says:

Demolition of all existing buildings and structures for a mixed-use redevelopment comprising offices, cultural spaces and retail uses with associated public realm and landscaping, servicing areas, parking and mechanical plant.

Interestingly the status, as of today, is “awaiting decision”, which is strange because when I was sketching the site earlier this week, demolition was definitely in progress: both visible and audible.

For the record, here are some pictures of the current building (click to enlarge):

The proposed new building will be taller than the current tower, and the current low-level buildings are to be replaced by a wide block.

The proposed new building will be wider and taller than the existing buildings.
It seems as though we will be able to walk through the new development. And there will be cafés and restaurants on the river side. (Picture ref: see Note 2)

Here are some maps to show where this is:

I drew the picture from the inclined plane leading up to Queens Walk by the river. There must be a splendid view from the adjacent IBM building. If you work there and you’d be prepared to host me so I could draw from the balcony, then do please get in touch.

Here are some photos of my work in progress on the picture. It was cold, wet and windy, and there were a lot of seagulls. I put the seagulls in the picture, to the right of the tower. I finished the colour at my desk.

I have also drawn Colechurch House, another 20th Century building in the area due for demolition:

Note 1: Date of construction and architects are cited in:

“When London Weekend Television decided to build its own modern studios, it chose a site on the South Bank close to the National Theatre. The architectural practice of Elsom Pack and Roberts were commissioned to design the building. Originally known as Kent House, their building involved a 21 storey tower rising above a podium that houses the television studios. Construction started in 1970 and the first transmission was in 1972. It became known as The South Bank Television Centre and it was considered to be the most advanced television centre in Europe at that time.”

Note 2: Picture of the new building and plan from the Statement of Community Involvement, downloaded 2 Dec 2021.

For comparison, here are the two views – the proposed development and the current view from Victoria Embankment. The visual of the proposed development shows various tall buildings which do not yet exist. The “Doon St Tower” is a proposed 43 storey tower on the inland side of Upper Ground from the National Theatre. It has planning permission (2010) but has not been built. Another tall building shown on the view of the proposed development is “Elizabeth House” a.k.a “One Waterloo”. This is set of buildings, 15 to 31 floors, next to Waterloo Station. It also has planning permission (19/01477/EIAFUL Feb 2021) but has not been built.

Carlisle Lane, Lambeth SE1

There are some wonderful railway arches near Waterloo. They are architectural marvels, with striking mathematical curves and uncountable numbers of bricks. Here is a view from underneath one such arch, on Carlisle Lane, looking North towards Waterloo.

Carlisle Lane, looking North. 12″ x 10″ From photo reference, 31st Dec 2020
Map showing location of drawing, (c) Open Street Map contributors. Click to enlarge.

The building on the left of the picture is “Canterbury House” on Royal Street, built 1959-1960. The greenery at the front is part of gardens and allotments, adjacent to Archbishop’s Park.

The white notice below the “No Entry” sign says “Except cycles”.

Here is a close up of the picture. The parts marked with arrows show where I lifted the wet paint off the paper to make a white mark.

The main colours are Phthalo Turquoise, Fired Red Ochre and Mars Yellow, with a bit of Transparent Pyrrol Orange for the traffic sign. This is on a sheet of Jackson’s watercolour paper, 12″ x 10″.

Cosser St, SE1 – North West

Here is the third sketch of Cosser St.

Cosser St SE1 – North West side. 12 inches by 9 inches [SOLD]

It was a blustery day, as you see. In the background are the buildings on the other side of the Kennington Road.

There are many parked cars in this street. They are constantly on the move, coming and going. You can see some ghostly images of them in the distance. The main point of the picture was the building. I didn’t draw all the cars. A Civil Enforcement Officer wove her way amongst them, checking number plates.

A man came by carrying a large musical instrument in a black case on his back. I think it was a ‘cello. Then he came back the other way. Then he went back a third time. I noticed him all three times, and he saw me noticing him. On the third time, he came over and politely asked to see the picture. He obviously felt some explanation was needed for his criss-crossing the street multiple times. He said, “I’ve left my mobile phone at my friend’s house. And you don’t realise….” He trailed off, because it seemed redundant to repeat the modern problem: I can’t even phone him because, obviously, my phone is at his house and…”. “I’ll get it”, he went on, “So long as he’s up.” He grinned and shrugged, and carried on across the road. I was not entirely convinced by this story. Why, then, was he carrying his heavy musical instrument back and forth?

This is the final sketch in a series of three made for a commission. Here are the three. All are 12″ by 9″ on Arches 300gsm watercolour paper.

The colours in this picture are: Buff Titanium (DS), Perylene Maroon (DS), Mars Yellow (DS), Fired Gold Ochre (DS) and Phthalo Turquoise (W&N). I did a preliminary sketch, which you see in these work-in-progress pictures.

More detail about the other two pictures is here:

Cosser St, SE1 – North East

Here is the second sketch of Cosser St. From this angle you can see “The Steam Engine” pub, which is the red-roofed building in the picture, fronting onto Cosser St. The day when I drew this was a surprisingly hot October day. The blue sky is accurate. I was drawing standing up, with a dull … Continue reading “Cosser St, SE1 – North East”

Cosser St, SE1 – North East

Here is the second sketch of Cosser St.

Cosser St SE1 – North East Side, from McAuley Crescent. 12 inches by 9 inches [SOLD]

From this angle you can see “The Steam Engine” pub, which is the red-roofed building in the picture, fronting onto Cosser St.

The day when I drew this was a surprisingly hot October day. The blue sky is accurate.

I was drawing standing up, with a dull red van behind me and my bicycle in front of me. As I drew, a rubbish truck arrived in front of The Steam Engine, and proceeded to reverse slowly down McAuley Crescent towards me. You can see the curve of the Crescent in the drawing. The driver skilfully negotiated that bend in the road, and kept on coming. I must have looked rather nervous, because the driver grinned at me, wound down his window, and called out, “Are you doin’ alright there?” I said that yes I was doing fine, and was I in his way? No no, he assured me. I told him how much I had admired his skilful driving, backwards down the road. He laughed again, and informed me, “I bin doin’ this since the 1980s. I should be good at it!”. Then he continued his smooth reversing, back beyond the red van and out of my line of sight.

I knew he must come back again, so when I heard the lorry engine I paused my drawing to wave. He waved back and called out a greeting, as he and his lorry hurtled confidently back towards Cosser St and their next collection.

The colours in this picture are: Buff Titanium (DS), Perylene Maroon (DS), Green Gold (DS), Fired Gold Ochre (DS) and Phthalo Turquoise (W&N). I did a preliminary sketch, which you see in these work-in-progress pictures.

This was the second picture done in a set of three for a commission.

The first one is here:

Cosser Street, SE1 – South West

Here is a building in Cosser St, near Lambeth North tube station.

Cosser Street SE1 – South West view. 12 inches by 9 inches [SOLD]

This is the first of three drawings in the area, for a commission. Someone who had enjoyed living here was going to be moving to the country, and asked me make some pictures for them, to remember the locality.

Ambulances park in this area. The street is not so empty as I have drawn it. Fortunately, they do not always park in the same place, so I could draw the front of the building a bit at a time. You can see the ambulances in the work-in-progress drawings below.

It was very cold, and there was an autumn wind.

The colours in this picture are: Phthalo Turquoise (W&N), Perylene Maroon (DS), Fired Gold Ochre (DS), Mars Yellow (DS), and Green Gold (DS).

Garden Museum in Lambeth

I drew a picture waiting outside the Garden Museum in Lambeth.


The Garden Museum is inside St Mary’s Church. The upmarket restaurant attached to the garden museum is the bronze-coloured cuboid on the right. The slab of stone which the tourist is sitting on is a tomb.

Prompted by an article in a newspaper, we were at the “Garden Museum” in Lambeth to see an exhibition of the art in Ladybird Books. I learned to read with Ladybird Books, as did so many others of my age. Here are pages from “Shopping With Mother”, one I remember with particular clarity. These are photos of the copy I still have, published 1958.

Note that Mother is wearing a hat and white gloves.

Since the exhibition was at the Garden Museum, they showed the art in the Ladybird Books of Trees, of Garden Flowers, and so on.

We also went up the tower of St Mary’s Church. It is 131 narrow steps. At the top it was very windy and we had a superb view. Here is what Lambeth Palace looks like from the tower.


In Victoria Tower Gardens, next to the Houses of Parliament, there was a huge demonstration to draw attention to Climate Change. The loudspeakers from speeches at the demonstration were accompanied by car horns and swearing of angry drivers, caught in traffic jams in the surrounding roads, and the wails of sirens as ambulances tried to reach St Thomas’ Hospital which is nearby. It was a soundscape of competing interests.







Royal Festival Hall and the London Eye

I went up to the marvellous roof garden, on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank.

Here is a picture of the Royal Festival Hall, with the London Eye behind it. The tower of Westminster looms behind the wheel.


This roof garden seems to be a place for serious discussions. Some people at the next bench were discussing whether to stay employed or not. One of the options was to “go travelling”. Another, as far as I could work out, was to “get married”. It was hard to keep track of their wide ranging conversation, because I had to concentrate on the beautiful curve on the front of the Royal Festival Hall. It was a luxury to be there, and to appreciate the lines of the architecture. The lines were somewhat compromised at this roof level by the many creeping plants, floodlights, and surveillance cameras which you see encrusting the ventilation shaft in the foreground. Also note the prominent mobile phone mast on top of the Royal Festival Hall. I would not have granted planning permission for that.

The roof garden is a wonderful invention, and well done. By the time I’d finished the drawing, many people had made their way up, and were discussing work, and relationships, all very earnest. I discovered that I was sitting in the smoking area, which is adjacent to the vaping area. Marijuana smells wafted up from somewhere, perhaps from the skateboarding area in the Undercroft below. I could hear the crashes and the calls. But there was also a smell of grass, actual green grass, as in the picture.

Here is work in progress and a photo of my sketchbook on the concrete:

The drawing took 1hr30mins.
Screen Shot 2019-04-10 at 12.09.00.png
The London County Council (LCC), as it then was, initiated the building of the Royal Festival Hall as their contribution to the Festival of Britain. The foundation stone was laid by the Prime Minister Clement Atlee in 1949 and a mere 18 months later, in 1951, the concert hall opened with a gala concert, which shows what can be done if you are determined and have a deadline.

The project was initially led by the LCC chief architect Robert Matthew, then later by Leslie Martin, with Edwin Williams and Peter Moro. It was built on the site of the Lion Brewery, which was built in 1837.

[this information from the Royal Festival Hall website, and the Twentieth Century Society]

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