Wednesday, 15 February 2017

An adventure, a fish market and the promise of some gruesome stories ..... Saturdays at the Tower of London part 1

Now the thing about adventures is that they are best done with friends.

It lessens the risks and more importantly offers up plenty of opportunities to relive the events which with the retelling become more exaggerated and all the more memorable.

That said there was always one place I did on my own and that was the Tower of London.

I may well have done the odd trip with Jimmy but I was best pleased when I did it alone which allowed me to explore the place for as long as I wanted, following  which ever guide took my fancy and above all just letting the walls, the stories and the exhibits work on my imagination.

And on a Saturday it was free to anyone under the age of 16 which meant that after buying the return ticket to London Bridge what was left of my pocket money could be spent on a packet of toffees and a couple of postcards of the Tower.

But as powerful an attraction as the place was it was just part of the day which began with the wait at Queens Road Station standing on the platform in the sky looking down between the gaps in the wooden floorboards at the ground below.

Once on the train there was the journey which got more exciting as the railway lines grew on either side offering up a shedload of other trains to stare at and making the arrival at London Bridge a pretty spectacular affair.

And there were all those flats, warehouses and factories to take in including the old Peak Frean biscuit plant which announced its presence by that thick sweet smell which lingered in the compartment long after the place had been passed.

But for me in anticipation of the Tower there was the walk across the old London Bridge with the warehouses fronting the south side of the river, each with their cranes and more often a ship lying alongside which was followed by the descent down a flight of dark steps to the Lower Road and the fish market

I usually got there around 10 on a Saturday by which time all the fish had been sold and apart from the odd porter there were just the men sweeping up.

That said there were still the odd bits of ice and discarded fish in the gutters and of course that all pervading smell.

A few hours earlier and the place would haven teeming with activity but even given the emptiness of the Lower Road there were those promising smaller roads including the one that led to the Monument which at the time had one of the best views across the City from its observational platform. And cost from memory 6d.

Not that I over dawdled around here for the prize was the Tower.

Pictures; The Tower of London , 2015 from the collection of Ryan Ginn and Billingsgate Fish Market, 1927, courtesy of MARK FLYNN POSTCARDS,

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