No More Shell Building


As usual when I travel to London, Waterloo, Jackie drove me to and from New Milton today. Apart from the fact that the ticket office was closed because the system wasn’t working, and I held up the queue for the machine on the platform because I didn’t know how to use it, the journey was uneventful.

When I last took today’s walk from Waterloo Station, across Westminster Bridge to Carol’s  home off Victoria Street, I would have crossed York Road by footbridge from the station concourse. This was not possible today. The bridge was closed and we had to walk down steps on the station side, and along the road until reaching the County Hall corner before we could cross.

South Bank development 1South Bank development 3

South Bank Development 2South Bank Development 5

South Bank Development 4

A great, gaping hole appeared where the Shell Building, a landmark as long as I can remember, had stood when I made the trip a year ago.

South Bank Development signs

This is to become a South Bank Development of ‘exceptionally stylish apartments’. Apparently people are already queuing up to acquire them although prices have not yet been fixed.

South Bank development workmen 1

Around the corner, on the approach to The London Eye, I noticed two men in hard hats sitting against the background of building works.

South Bank development workmen 2

As I came nearer, one of the very friendly men held up warning hands to ensure that I did not, without a hard hat, enter the site. The other gentleman came over to me and we had a pleasant conversation during which he suggested I might prefer to be photographing the New Forest.

South Bank Development 6

I then shot the scene without the workers.

Crowd on Westminster Bridge 1

Once on Westminster Bridge I was reminded how difficult it is to negotiate that thoroughfare during the tourist season.

Piper and audience

The piper, however, was given some breathing space.


An assiduous road sweeper kept the area around Parliament Square suitably tidy. The Plane tree around which he had just wielded his brush, was bursting into leaf,

Plane Trees and buses

as were those in an unusually quiet Victoria Street,

Plane trees and St Stephen's Church

and outside St Stephen’s Church, Rochester Row.

I didn’t note the name of the excellent Italian restaurant in that street where Carol and I enjoyed each other’s company over a superb meal. My choice was a tortellini and clear chicken stock soup followed by sea food risotto. We both chose creme brûlée. I drank Friuli sauvignon.

Lambeth Palace from 507 bus

I returned to Waterloo on the 507 bus, from which I gained a clear view of Lambeth Palace.

P.S. Perusal of the comments by Paul and Geoff below, will show that the title and the inference of this post is only partially correct. The main tower remains. It is just the lower levels that have been removed.


    1. I did hate living there, although I was born and bred there couldn’t wait to get out, took me 64 years!!

  1. They should build a replica of Westminster Bridge and show that to the tourists. The graffiti on the passing vehicle (first hard hat photo) is exceptionally stylish!

    1. Thanks, Bruce. There was a time when any kind of advertising on taxis and buses was banned, on the grounds that drivers would be distracted. Now any thing goes, perhaps because no-one can drive fast enough to cause an accident

      1. There’s a flurry of protest currently going on in NZ about “rude” – in fact misogynist/sexist graffiti – on vehicles rented to tourists. I won’t quote any because they’re offensive – but people want them banned, and I think rightly so.

  2. When I was in London I was so dismayed at the highly expensive building of over priced homes for the privileged and the tube expansion so regular working-poor can be slaves and commute in. Sigh.

  3. Doesn’t that huge monstrosity beside the building site look out of place. Maybe the sign should read “stylish apartments with soviet-inspired views”. Love all the tourists bundled up in parkas to enjoy a London Spring.

  4. In the third photo, is that a Ferris wheel next to the building for some sort of equipment? The Westminster Bridge has more commuter traffic than your road did in yesterday’s post. 🙂 Cheers!

    1. No, that’s The London Eye, already a famous landmark [but clearly not in some jurisdictions, eh? 🙂 ], a Millennial project more successful than the more famous/notorious Millennium Dome. It’s spawned many others around the country.

  5. I thought the building that was left is the Shell Building, which, I was sure, is listed (but apparently not: I find it’s the “Shell Centre”, see here One of its architects, Ralph Maynard Smith, who died aged only 60 in 1964, was also a secret surrealist painter. We mounted his first one-person show in 1993. Some of his work was already then destined for the British Museum Collection.
    The demolished block must be either the Upstream Building, a series of wings built later, or the companion Downstream Building, sold in the 90s for residential development. The tower is the original 1961 edifice.
    The sculpture in front of it, “Torsion Fountain” (popularly known as “Shell Fountain” and now relocated due to other developments round the site) is by Franta Belsky. His work (and probably the fountain itself) was documented by Crispin Eurich, the photographer whose archive I curate, who died aged about 41 in 1976. He was greatly in demand for his rapport with modern architecture and sculpture, and (I guess) must have met Belsky in the course of several commissions to shoot his work
    The group of artists associated with Maynard Smith’s son, whom we met due to the exhibition, include Dilys Bryon, whose print show we held in Spring 2014 (not sure if you came to it, Derrick?). I’m going to her husband’s funeral on Thursday.

  6. Ah, more stylish apartments! There are some near me, “starting in the low 700’s”–that would be an efficiency. I imagine these will be similar.y priced. I liked the little car advertising Heineken.

  7. I highly approve your choice of wine “Friuli sauvignon”. My daughter-in-law’s parents come from that area of Italy, and their wine is pretty darn good!

  8. Your post had really beautiful and colorful scenes. I liked the group of tourists, the bag Piper and the beautiful tree with newly unfolded spring green leaves, Derrick. I promise I knew where and what the London Eye looks like and I live in Ohio, U.S.A. Jill may only have seen a sliver of the London Eye, but she follows Jenny Pelllett who had the London Eye on a post last week. . .

  9. Nice to see the latest in London Derrick – quite a building boom going on. Hard to see some of the good ole buildings taken down for progress though.

  10. Paul is right. That tower is the shell building as was, it’s the low level stuff that’s gone. You’re quite some competition as a London tour guide you know!

    1. Thanks for that confirmation, and compliment, Geoff. It was the workman who mentioned the Shell building, and I didn’t make the clarification. Still, no matter, now you’ve both put me right

  11. I love London; guess I’m a city girl (born in Hong Kong) but I’m happy to be living in a country town now, Sydney is comparatively provincial but it has the facilities of a city.

      1. The middle of the city is getting worse by the day; without its harbour and coastline (beaches) Sydney would be awful. We are also lucky to have our National Park and reserves.

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