Old Kings Head, EC2

Here is the Old Kings Head, 28 Holywell Row, EC2A 4JB: ” a family-run retreat from the stresses of everyday life in the proximity of the almighty Silicon Roundabout” [oldkingshead.london]

The Old Kings Head, Shoreditch 26 November 2022 in Sketchbook 12

“Enjoy great beers, ales, spirits and, if you must, soft drinks in the friendliest, happiest, most traditional, greentiletastic and fantastically the least expensive pub in the area” continues their website.

I love “greentiletastic“. The green tiles are indeed fantastic: I have tried to show them in my drawing.

This pub is in a network of tiny streets running at all sorts of unexpected angles. As I sketched, I saw, more than once, an expensively dressed person trailing a carry-on size suitcase, picking their way over the broken paving stones and patched up tarmac, in unsuitable shoes. Usually they were a woman. Ill-advisedly, they were loosely holding their mobile phone and consulting it, while walking. I could not work out where these people were going, or where they came from. Evidently no-one had warned them of the possibility of mobile phone snatches. I wondered if I should do so. But while the thought crossed my mind, the person drifted on, towards Old Street, bearing a dreamy mystified expression, as though these piebald buildings did not quite correspond to the mental image they had of their destination, or, more likely, the street pattern did not correspond to the image on their mobile phone. They saw neither me, nor the pub, but seemed to exist in another reality.

This pub is old. According to “pubhistory.com” the earliest landlord was “James Taylor, victualler” in 1792. This is from insurance records in the Guildhall Library.

It sounds like a great pub.

I drew it standing outside the restaurant “Padella”, next to a narrow alley called “New North Place”. New North Place is the opposite of new, but it does go North. To my total astonishment, a huge lorry emerged from this tiny alley, and blocked my view. This is a common hazard sketching in London. It soon moved on though. I was impressed that the driver had ventured into the alley.

Sketchbook 12

The Griffin, 93 Leonard St, EC2

After I’d sketched The Old Blue Last, I left the thundering traffic behind and walked through back streets of Shoreditch. I encountered “The Griffin”. It seemed like a friendly place, with neat brickwork, and welcoming lights inside. I sat on a low wall, and sketched it, as electric taxis glided past. Or should that be “glid”?

The Griffin, Leonard Street EC2. Sketched on 21 September 2022 in Sketchbook 12.

The pub is built on a slight slope. Ravey Street slopes upwards towards Leonard Street.

Map showing where I sat and sketched “The Griffin”

It’s an area of sharp contrasts. Behind me was the “Nobu Hotel” radically modern. Blackall Street, however, looks unkept, like the seamy side of a garment. The people walking by were various. A group of young people speaking a Germanic language rushed past onto Leonard Street following a route on a mobile phone. Several men in florescent jackets walked towards me in a tight group, studiously conversing and referring to a clipboard which one of them carried. As they passed I realised they were speaking another language, perhaps of a Baltic region, with soft “shh” sounds. A young woman strode past in the opposite direction, frowning, speaking no language but with her mobile phone held at her ear. None of these people paid me any heed. Then a totally different person appeared, dancing a jagged line along the street, with hair in long strands, and a huge smile. He noticed me and marched up, asked how I was, commented on the day, admired my drawing, and offered me a fist to bump in greeting. This done, he completed a 36o degree turn on the spot, and walked loosely on up the street, offering his benign greetings to other bemused passers-by. This is London.

The Griffin is in an area of contrasts.

The area containing The Griffin has recently been totally redeveloped. A new hotel was constructed on Great Eastern Street. These works took place in 2013-5. They included a renovation of the pub itself, and conversion of its first floor into flats. There is extraordinarily detailed research on the whole site done by “The Historic Environment Consultancy”. See this link.

The pub is Grade II listed, the buildings around were unstable, and archaeological investigations were called for. The Historic Environment Consultancy wrote a scholarly account of the state of The Griffin in 2013, in preparation for the redevelopment. They generously put this report online. You can read it on this link or download it here if that link is no longer valid:

The consultant carefully identified the phases of construction of the pub, by looking at details of its structure. For example they observe:

The timbers in the roof are machine-sawn where visible and thus they date the roof to post 1790 and likely to be post 1840.

The Historic Environment Consultancy, Colin Lacey 2013

They conclude that it was constructed in three phases, the first two between 1799 and 1872, and the later one after 1887. This later phase is dated because it included the installation of a Dumb Waiter which was only invented in 1887. It was built as a pub, and has always been a pub.

At the time of their inspection, the consultants noted that the building was on the “At Risk” register:

The building also appears on English Heritage’s Heritage at Risk Register. It is said to be in ‘poor’ condition because, according to the register, of a lack of maintenance.

The Historic Environment Consultancy, Colin Lacey 2013

This poor state is evident from the photos they include in their report, which show plants growing out of the roof, and crackling stone work.

When I sketched it, the pub was in an excellent state of repair, very neat looking, with beautiful patterned brickwork. Worth a visit.

I drew the pub in pen and ink on location and completed the colour at my desk.

The colours are:

  • Ultramarine Blue, Lavender and Burnt Umber for the sky
  • Fired Gold Ochre and Mars Yellow for the brickwork
  • A mixture of all of the above plus Perylene Maroon for the tiled ground level
  • All blacks and greys are Ultramarine Blue with Burnt Umber

The drawing is done on Arches Aquarelle 300gsm cold-pressed paper, made into a sketchbook by the Wyvern Bindery. The pen I use is a Lamy Safari with a fine nib and De Atramentis Document Black waterproof ink, both from “The Writing Desk”.

The Old Blue Last, Shoreditch, EC2

Yesterday, I went to look for “The Old Blue Last”, a pub which featured in a book I was reading.

“The Old Blue Last stood at the top of Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch, a snub-nosed, imposing three-storey brick building curved like the bow of a boat…..”

‘Career of Evil’ by Robert Galbraith, Chapter 12.
The Old Blue Last, Great Eastern Street, London EC2. Sketched on Wednesday 21st September in sketchbook 12.

I sketched standing outside the estate agents Fraser and Co.

Map showing where I was standing, outside Fraser and Co, and my viewpoint. I later sketched “The Griffin” which is marked also.

This pub is now owned by “Vice Magazine” (“VICE is the definitive guide to enlightening information.”). Their website helpfully publishes a history of the pub:

“…in 1576 a venture capitalist named James Burbage built a venue called The Theatre where The Old Blue Last currently stands…..Eventually Burbage pulled down The Theatre and moved it south of the river, where it became The Globe….in 1700 a bar was built on the site of the old theater. It was called The Last, which, remarkably boringly, refers to a wooden block that a shoemaker uses to mold a shoe. The Last was owned by a brewer named Ralph Harwood, who went on to achieve a small level of fame when he was pronounced bankrupt one day by Gentleman’s Magazine…..In 1876, Truman’s brewery took over the pub. They pulled The Last down and rebuilt it as The Old Blue Last, which means “the old blue wooden pattern that is used to mold(sic) the shoe….Eventually Truman’s went down the toilet and Grand Metropolitan Hotels took over the OBL…[1970s, 1990s] —At that point, The Old Blue Last was a rough place full of rougher men and people who were afraid of being beaten up by them. It housed an illegal strip club and brothel, which was on the second floor…” [https://www.vice.com/en/article/ex575k/how-vice-bough-a-brothel-v10n12]

“Vice” bought The Old Blue Last in 2004 and turned it into a music venue.

“Anyway, it’s a great bar, all the gigs are fun, and it’s right by our office.” [https://www.vice.com/en/article/ex575k/how-vice-bough-a-brothel-v10n12]

“It’s not about great food, beer connoisseurship or child-friendliness (it’s very much 18+): it’s about atmosphere, which it has to spare, and dedication to live music…” [https://www.datathistle.com/place/54846-the-old-blue-last-london-ec2a/]

Great Eastern Street is a very busy thoroughfare, taking buses, lorries, delivery vehicles and cars between the Old Street Roundabout and places East. I noticed the crowd of street furniture outside the pub. See the lamp post, which, though modern, attempts to imitate some of the Victorian features of the pub. The CCTV camera next to it, however, is strictly utilitarian, on its unadorned pole. I wonder why they didn’t put the security camera on the lamp post. They are only about 3 feet apart.

I tired of the pounding noise of Great Eastern Street, despite the friendly location outside Fraser and Co. One of their employees, mobile phone clutched in his hand, paused and commented favourably on my drawing, as he re-entered the office. People passed by wrapt in intricate conversations about modules, funding agreements and childcare issues. After I finished the pen drawing, I retreated into the quiet back streets.

I added the colour later, at my desk.

The colours are:

Ultramarine Blue and Lavender for the sky and street signs, Mars Yellow and Burnt Umber for the brickwork, with some Fired Gold Ochre. The black is made of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber. There’s some Cobalt Turquoise Light on the Colt Technologies building behind the pub. I used acrylic gold paint by Liquitex to pick out the gold on the pub, including the lettering.

Bastion House EC2 from 88 Wood Street

I sketched this from the outside tables at 88 Wood Street. A small coffee shop run by Dartbrooke Coffee has opened in this office block. The coffee was superb, the welcome warm, and they had a selection of food. Also they had tables both indoors and out. Here’s the view from an outdoor table overlooking London Wall.

Bastion House EC2 from 88 Wood Street, 6th September 2022 in Sketchbook 12

I liked all the angles.

That’s rain you see in the sky. I had to pack up quickly as the rain came down.

Rain on the painting!

This picture took 1hour 10 minutes up to the point in the photo above when it started raining. Then another 20 minutes at my desk to finish off.

Here’s a map. The building on the left of my drawing is 200 Aldersgate, a huge office block.

Map showing where I was sketching and my viewpoint.

Bastion House is the monolith in the centre of the picture, with the Barbican Highwalks below leading to the Museum of London.

Bastion House, the Highwalks, and the Museum of London are all under threat of demolition by the City of London and replacement with three huge office blocks, overshadowing the Barbican. All the bridges will be removed, and all the highwalks in this area. This is not a good idea, in my view, and I support the residents’ call to the City to stop and think. Do we need yet more huge office blocks…really? Can we not refurbish the existing buildings, as has happened successfully to nearby blocks?

Here are some other sketches of Bastion House:

Bastion House from Podium Level

Bastion House aka 140 London Wall is a huge modernist monolith, reminiscent of the monolith in “2001 – A Space Odyssey”. I couldn’t find a site to draw…

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Cornwall Road, London SE1 – packaging print

Here is another packaging print. This one shows Bridge ELR-XTD Structure 20 on Cornwall Road (N) between Charing Cross and Waterloo East, South East London. The road that leads off to the left is Sandell Street SE1. The road under the bridge is Cornwall Road.

The print is made using the intaglio process. The plate is a milk carton.

Railway bridge on Cornwall Road, SE1, Packaging print made on 3rd September 2022, about A3 size

Here is the plate, front and back:

The plate is made by peeling away the metallic substance inside the milk carton, then painting it with shellac to make it stronger. I describe the process in this post.

I used traditional etching ink, “Shop mix – Bone Black” from Intaglio Printmaker, whose shop, as it happens, is not far from this railway bridge.

Here’s a video of the print being peeled away:

Here is the print and the plate:

Plate (left) and print (right)
Print (left) and plate (right)

The plate made 8 prints.

Here is detail of the print:

For more of my prints made with packaging material, click on this link:

The Globe Moorgate, and Crossrail buildings EC2

The Globe Moorgate is a magnificent Victorian pub, standing boldly on the corner of London Wall and Moorgate. As you see, it is in the midst of more recent developments. The huge office block you see in the centre left of my drawing is still under construction. It is above the new Crossrail station at Moorgate. Crossrail is now called “the Elizabeth Line”. In the background there are two further blocks going up. These are 22 Ropemaker, on Ropemaker Street.

The Globe Moorgate, EC2, sketched on 29 August 2022, at 5pm in Sketchbook 12

There are various curious things about The Globe. On the corner is the prominent number “199”. You’d think that was the street address, but no, the Globe is 83 Moorgate. I can’t discover where this “199” came from.

The corner of The Globe: “199” in huge lettering. But the Globe is number 83 Moorgate.

Here’s a 1904 map. The street layout was different then. Fore Street went all the way to Moorgate. But still it’s easy to identify the Globe. On this map it is numbers 11 and 13 Moorgate, certainly not number 199.

Here’s a map from the Historic England Listing entry for the Globe. This is a 2022 map. The Globe, ringed in red, is shown at number 83.

https://mapservices.historicengland.org.uk/printwebservicehle/StatutoryPrint.svc/390651/HLE_A4L_Grade|HLE_A3L_Grade.pdf
The Keats bar: the plaque is on the second storey

Another interesting thing about the Globe is that it recently absorbed an adjacent pub. There used to be a pub right next door called the John Keats. This was absorbed by The Globe in 2008, according to this Evening Standard article. The connection to John Keats is described on a plaque high up and difficult to read. It says:

IN A HOUSE ON THIS SITE
THE “SWAN & HOOP”
JOHN KEATS
POET
WAS BORN 1795

I sketched The Globe from across the junction of London Wall and Moorgate. As it was a Bank Holiday the junction was not as busy as normal. But it was still pretty busy. After a while I had had enough of the people passing in front of me, and the buses and the noise, and I packed up and finished the drawing at my desk. Here is work in progress and another map, showing the direction I was looking.

Here are all the buildings, labelled:

The office block above the Crossrail station is a stupendous feat of engineering, because essentially it is built across a great hole in the ground. From the Barbican Podium on the other side, I saw the great struts, spanning the gap. It is built like a bridge. I drew a picture in this blog post (May 2020):

Turks Head Wapping, E1

I walked to The Turks Head Wapping: a restaurant among trees. After a splendid lunch, I sketched the building.

The Turks Head Wapping E1, 10″ x 7″ in Sketchbook 12, 26th August 2022, 16:30pm

The drawing took me about 50mins on location, pen and ink. I added the colour when I got back to my desk.

Before and after the colour went on.

Marvellous chimneys!

The chimneys are Transparent Pyrrol Orange. Other colours are: Green Serpentine Genuine, Mars Yellow, Burnt Umber, Ultramarine Blue, Permanent Yellow Deep, and Perylene Maroon to get the darker tiled walls. The blacks and greys are Ultramarine Blue mixed with Burnt Umber. These are all Daniel Smith watercolours. The paper is Arches Aquarelle 300gsm NOT, in a sketchbook made by the Wyvern Bindery in Hoxton.

Here is work in progress:

This is a wonderful café-restaurant – recommended. It is east of Tower Bridge, about a 45 minute walk from the City.

Dip pen and W&N drawing ink.

I’ve drawn the Turk’s Head before:

Turks Head Café Wapping

Here is the marvellous Turks Head Café, Wapping, rescued from demolition by local residents in the 1980s. Inside, I found warmth, quiet tables, and the gentle murmur of conversations: people actually talking to each other.…

Read more…

Bastion House, 140 London Wall

Earlier this month, I made a quick sketch of Bastion House, from London Wall.

140 London Wall, Bastion House, sketched 2nd August 2022 from London Wall, in sketchbook 12

Here’s a map:

The architect was Philip Powell of Powell and Moya. The building was completed in 1976. I like this building. It reminds me of the “obelisk” in the film “2001 – A Space Odessey”.

The City of London have the idea that they are going to demolish this building, and the Museum of London next to it, and build three large office blocks: bigger and wider than the existing buildings, providing some 750sq ft of commercial office space.

This mystifies many of us, as we witness empty office blocks all around this location. It also angers us, as such huge buildings will take sun from the residential estate to the North. There seems to be a case for pausing the proposed project, and considering renovation of the existing buildings. Renovation would be better from a carbon emissions point of view, as demolition and construction are a large source of carbon dioxide emissions.

There is a co-ordinated movement to ask the City of London to think again. The website is here: https://www.londonstartshere.co.uk/

I have sketched these threatened buildings before:

Bastion House, London Wall, from Andrewes House

I hastened to draw the magnificent Bastion House, on London Wall. It is due for demolition. In the foreground you see the balcony and privacy screen of the flat in Andrewes, whose leaseholder had kindly hosted me. The line of red brick, and what looks like chimneys, in the foreground are the rooftops of a part of the Barbican, “The Postern”. Behind them is the Barber-Surgeons’ Hall on Monkwell Square,…

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Bastion House from Podium Level

Bastion House aka 140 London Wall is a huge modernist monolith, reminiscent of the monolith in “2001 – A Space Odyssey”. I couldn’t find a site to draw the monolith part today, so here is a view at Podium Level, looking West towards the Museum of London. You see the dark undercroft, walkways and a road to a car park. Also you see the bridge that crosses London Wall. http://postwarbuildings.com…

click here to read more

St Pauls and Bastion House

I am sketching the views out of the window. Just visible over the top of Bastion House is the top of “OneBlackfriars”. In the foreground: Mountjoy House, Barbican, on the right. Along the bottom is the Barbican Highwalk which joins Mountjoy House and Wallside. I have drawn Bastion House before: This drawing took rather a long time as I stopped a couple of times. As a result, by the time…

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St Giles and Bastion House

Today Urban Sketchers London held a “sketch crawl” in the Barbican. So I joined them. An astonishing number and diversity of people assembled inside the entrance of the Barbican Centre at the appointed time of 11am. I counted about 35 and then another dozen or so joined. All shapes and sizes of people, tall, short, studious-looking or flamboyant, quiet or talkative, smart or windblown, old or young, all were there.…

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The Museum of London EC2

From the highwalk on the Rotunda there is a really amazing view of the Museum of London and Bastion House. This whole view going to change radically, if the City of London plans are approved. The Museum of London is in the South West corner of the Barbican. It was designed by Philip Powell and Hidalgo Moya. The Museum opened in 1976. The City of London plan to close it…

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The Horse & Groom, EC2

The Horse & Groom pub is on Curtain Road in Shoreditch.

The Horse & Groom, EC2. 10″ x 7″ in Sketchbook 12. Friday 10 June 2022 12:05

The Horse and Groom describes itself on its website :

Since opening our doors in 2007 the Horse and Groom has grown to be one of East London’s best loved pubs. Recognised as the original entrance for Shakespeare’s Curtain Theatre, in 2012 we were protected as a venue and we look to keep Shoreditch drinking and dancing for a long time yet

TheHorseandGroom.net

The reason why the pub’s future might need to be mentioned is clear from the modern map. As you see from the 2022 street map, the pub and its neighbours are surrounded on three sides by a huge office and residential development “The Stage”.

The Horse & Groom (left) and its neighbours are surrounded by new build.

The pub not only survives, it thrives. Squaremeal.co.uk, a review site, says “The rickety Georgian boozer’s twin dance floors get hectic and steamy at weekends, when house, funk, and rare garage rule….”

Sketching in Curtain Road

I sketched The Horse & Groom standing in Curtain Road. At first I had a clear view, but cars gradually arrived, and vans, and delivery vehicles. I finished the drawing at my desk.

The pub is number 28. The building next door, number 26, is, or was, “Cincinnati Chilibomb”. One of the vans that arrived discharged a consignment of building materials. Construction workers started shifting tools and materials into number 26. So maybe there will be a change of use.

The building next to that, on the right of my drawing, must be number 24. Numbers 24 and 26 are listed, Grade II, Listing NGR: TQ3326982177. I cannot find any listing for the pub.

No 24: early C18, 3 storeys and attic, 2 windows. Rounded gambrel roof, tiled, with dormer. Painted brick with parapet front. Gauged segmental arches to later sash windows. Early-mid C18 shop front, with slightly altered glazing, on ground floor. No 26: house of early C19 appearance, possibly with older core, 3 storeys and attic, 2 windows. Stock brick with parapet, slated mansard with dormer, Gauged near-flat brick arches to modern plate glass windows. Ground floor mid-late C19 shop front.

Historic England listing

Number 24 is a fascinating building. What will happen to it? Currently it is gradually falling derelict:

Click and enlarge the pictures to appreciate the amazing carved woodwork on the door.

The huge buildings behind are described on the website for “The Stage”. The development has “over an acre of public space and landscape gardens surrounded by luxury apartments, cutting edge office space and prime retail…”

London is certainly a city of contrasts.

Here you can see the pen-and-ink drawing and the colour side-by-side:

pages in Sketchbook 12

Bank of England – Tivoli Corner

I took advantage of the road closures for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee to sketch this corner of the Bank of England.

Bank of England – Tivoli Corner, 2nd June 2022, in Sketchbook 12
Temple of Vesta, Tivoli, modern photo from Wikipedia Commons on this link

This is the North-West corner of the Bank of England. The perimeter wall was designed by John Soane in 1805. The design of the corner was inspired by the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli.

The John Soane museum has a marvellous digital archive with detailed notes on his work on the Bank of England. John Soane was surveyor to the Bank of England for 45 years, from 1788 to 1833. During that time the role of the Bank of England changed from a small bank helping out the government with the national debt, to a significant national institution, printing money and managing Income Tax. The Soane museum archive notes:

Since its foundation in 1694, the Bank of England had financed Britain’s wars and managed the national debt. War, therefore, resulted in more business for the Bank, demanding extensive alterations and additions. Soane’s vast building work was largely the result of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars that lasted from 1793 to 1815. More space was required as the staff doubled during this time and the bank note printing process was carried out on site. In addition, new offices were required as the Bank’s responsibilities and roles changed, such as a place for managing the newly instituted Income Tax of 1799.

Madeleine Helmer, 2010-2011, on this link © Sir John Soane’s Museum, London

Here is a view from the North-West in 1807, showing the John Soane Bank of England as constructed. You see the Tivoli Corner, which is there today.

North face of the Bank of England, exhibited in the Royal Academy 1809, by “John Soane Archt 1807” Photo: © Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, http://collections.soane.org/OBJECT3718

John Soane’s 3-storey building was demolished to make way for a new 7-storey building constructed 1925-39 by Herbert Baker. Soane’s perimeter wall was retained, but everything else was replaced. It is Herbert Baker who is responsible for that dome in my drawing, and also for the marvellous walk-through passage at this corner. You can see the North side of the passage in my drawing. For more photos of this passage and a description, I recommend the wonderful “IanVisits” site. Ian visits Tivoli Corner on this link. Or go there! And look up.

I took advantage of the road closure to sketch standing in Moorgate.

As I sketched, people walked past either side of me, in extraordinary hats. Everyone was cheerful and the sun shone. I enjoyed chatting to the various people who stopped to examine my drawing or comment on the view.

Pen, before the colour went on

You see the traffic bollards in the drawing. Those were patiently removed by a security guard every time a police vehicle approached, and equally patiently replaced. This must have happened about six times in the hour and half I was there.

Site progress drawings 1798. Joseph Michael Gandy (1771-1843) Photo: © Sir John Soane’s Museum, London SM (58) volume 69/14

The John Soane archive notes on Tivoli corner are on this link. This site has some lively “work-in-progress” drawings of the construction of the Bank of England. Here is one. See how modern it looks! It was drawn in 1798, the same year that Nelson fought Napoleon in the Battle of the Nile.

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