Open House London 2014: A Randomly London Summary

02j - Staircase in St Pancras Hotel

Looking up the Grand Staircase in the St. Pancras Hotel

For those of you who missed it, last weekend was Open House London 2014, which offered a chance to see inside 800 buildings across the capital that are not normally open to the public.

The most popular options this year included: The Gherkin, The Cheesegrater, The Bank of England, 55 Broadway (London Underground HQ), Houses of Parliament, and 10 Downing Street, among others. As you’d expect, they were incredibly busy, which meant you either needed to get a ticket well in advance, or be prepared to queue for hours.

However, there’s a whole world of interesting building to explore besides the most popular ones. Better yet, you can often see two or three of them in the time it would take you to see one of the others.

Just to give you an idea of the types of buildings you can get access to, here is summary from what I managed to see this year:

A Flat in the Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate

01a - Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate upper level

The Alexandra and Ainsworth estate is one of London’s unique, brutalist icons. I’ve walked through it several times and I thought this would the perfect chance to actually see inside one of the flats.

Unfortunately, there was a 1 hour queue, since they were only letting 4 people in at a time, which meant I had to pass as I was off to my next site.

St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel & Chambers

02j - Staircase in St Pancras Hotel

Stop number two was a guided tour around the lobby of the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel and the private Chambers flats. This was a ticketed event with guaranteed entry and no waiting outside. Here are a few photos from the inside:

02h - Missing Statue at St. Pancras

When they originally built the hotel, they decided against putting in statues, as it would have added £100 to the cost.

02p - Corridor in St Pancras Chambers

Hallway in the private apartments area

02s - Looking into St Pancras

Not a view you get everyday, looking down into St. Pancras Station

02v - Servants door in old St Pancras hotel

The small door at the top used to be where service staff from the hotel and/or railway would sleep if the train schedule did not allow them to get home for the night.

02x - Bookcase in Clocktower at St Pancras

This was taken inside the flat immediately below the St. Pancras Clock. The small booth at the top is the former Time Keeper’s office. The bookshelves are a modern addition.

02zc - Kings Cross from St Pancras

The view of King’s Cross station from the Clock Tower flat

02ze - Eurostar from St Pancras Chambers

Looking down on the Eurostar

280 Gray’s Inn Road

03a - 280 Grays Inn Road

This was an impromptu stop on my part as I just happened to notice it while walking to my next location. It’s a shop to house conversion that is unique because it allows in much more light than you’d find in other similar projects. The flip side is that people can see into the flat, including those on Double Decker buses that frequently travel along Gray’s Inn Road.

03g - Looking out of the shopfront flat

Books and other objects create a barrier with the street, but the shutters can be opened to allow more light as well.

Freemasons’ Hall

04a - Freemasons Hall

Freemasons’ Hall is an Art Deco masterpiece that all Londoners should visit at least once. They had a huge number of Masons on hand to dispel myths and answer questions from the public.

While these photos don’t do the Hall justice, they give a bit of the flavour of what you can find inside:

04b - Cloakroom at Freemasons Hall

Cloakroom at Freemasons Hall

04g - Stained glass at Freemasons Hall

Stained glass at Freemasons Hall

04k - Clock at Freemasons Hall

There are a lot of clocks around the Hall

04r - Looking into the Grand Temple of Freemasons Hall

Looking into the Grand Temple

04s - Ceiling of Great Hall

Ceiling of the Grand Temple

04u - Euclid and Pythagoras at Freemasons Hall

Euclid and Pythagoras

04w - Chairs at Freemasons Hall

A few chairs

04zb - All seeing eye in Great Hall

The All-Seeing Eye (Eye of Providence)

04zi - Ceiling of the library in Freemasons Hall

The ceiling in the Hall’s library

The Cally Park Clock Tower

St Pauls from  Cally Clocktower

The view of St. Paul’s Cathedral from the Cally Clock Tower

The Caledonian Park Clock Tower is all that remains of the once vast Metropolitan Cattle Market and is the perfect place to get breathtaking views of London. It was another ticked event, although they were allowing people on waiting lists for no-shows.

Here a just a few things you can see:

05b - Cally Clocktower

Cally Park Clock Tower

05f - Spiral Staircase at the Cally Clocktower

Spiral Staircase

05j - City outline from  Cally Clocktower

Looking at the City through perspex plastic

05q - Back of clock at  Cally Clocktower

The back of one of the clock faces

05s - Shard from  Cally Clocktower

The Shard

05za - Ally Pally from  Cally Clocktower

Ally Pally

05ze - Trelick Tower from  Cally Clocktower

Trelick Tower

05zg - Bt and Euston Towers from  Cally Clocktower

BT & Euston Towers

Apothecaries’ Hall

06a - Apothecaries Hall entrance

Apothecaries’ Hall is the home of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, one of the City’s many livery companies. From their website they are described as:

The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries lies at the heart of the early foundations of modern-day medicine and remains an important, active and innovative medical institution today. The Society plays a key role in the advancement of specialist areas of medicine, and in the ongoing post-graduate education and qualification of practitioners.

Steeped in history and tradition, the Society was founded by Royal Charter in 1617 and is one of the few livery companies in the City of London to remain professionally based with over 85 per cent of its membership belonging to professions allied to medicine.

Here is just a sample of what their hall looks like:

06c- Apothecaries Hall courtyard


06i - More jars at Apothecaries Hall

Some old jars

06j - Window at Apothecaries Hall

Stained glass window

06l - Main ceiling at Apothecaries Hall

Ceiling in the main hall

06m - Stained glass at Apothecaries Hall

More stained glass

06s - Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers

Also found on-site, the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers

Wander Around Smithfield Market

07g - Smithfield Market

While I didn’t manage to get a ticket to the Farringdon Crossrail site, I thought I’d try my luck and see about getting put on a waiting list. Fortunately, for me there had been a cancellation and I was able to book a space on the next tour in an hour. So to kill time I had a wander around the Smithfield Market site, which is one of the odder parts of London.

Again here are a few photos:

07h - Smithfield Market

Evidence of Crossrail at the market

07i - No roof at Smithfield Market

Missing roof

07l - Disused public toilet at Smithfield Market

Former public toilet, likely waiting to be turned into a multi-million pound home or London’s latest nightclub

07n Smithfield market

The very empty market

07o - Port of London Building at Smithfield

Port of London Authority Building

Farringdon Crossrail Site

08a - Entrance to Farringdon Crossrail west

Farringdon is about to become one of the busiest stations in London. It will be the only station to link Crossrail, Thameslink and the London Underground. Moreover, the station will actually span two underground stations (Barbican station will be accessible from the eastern ticket hall).

Thus, while it might not look like much today, you’re almost certainly going to end up here at some point.

08c - Pipes at Farringdon Crossrail west

Looking down into Farringdon west

08l - Smithfield and Farringdon Crossrail east site

Looking down into Farringdon east

08m - Farringdon Crossrail east site

Looking even further down at Farringdon east

08s - Driveway to Farringdon house next to Crossrail east

This is apparently the only detached home in the City to have a garage. Unfortunately, it can’t currently be used because of building site.

08u - Barbican station from Farringdon Crossrail east

Looking into Barbican station

Canary Wharf Crossrail Station

09a - Canary Wharf Crossrail station

The last stop of the weekend was the unfinished Canary Wharf Crossrail station. Unlike Farringdon, this station is almost complete and you didn’t need to pre-book tickets. In fact by the time I arrived there wasn’t even a queue.

09e - Wooden stairs at Canary Wharf Crossrail station

The escalators have yet to be installed at the station

09h - West India Quay station from Canary Wharf Crossrail station

There will be an interchange with West India Quay station

09j - Passageway at Canary Wharf Crossrail station


09k - Popular DLR station from Canary Wharf Crossrail station

An interchange with Popular DLR is planned but not yet approved

09n - Looking up at Canary Wharf Crossrail station

Looking up from the top floor of Canary Wharf station

Future garden

09s - Future Escalator at Canary Wharf Crossrail station

Taking the wooden stairs down to platform level

09w - Future platforms at Canary Wharf Crossrail station

Future platforms

09zc - Future escalators at Canary Wharf Crossrail station

More future platforms and future escalators

For more photos see the full album here and if you want to get involved next year be sure to check out the Open House London website.

Visit any noteworthy sites this year? If so please let me know about them, so I can add them to next year’s list:

2 thoughts on “Open House London 2014: A Randomly London Summary”

  1. As a volunteer I missed visiting other sites – so your record of pictures and journalism is very much appreciated. Really shows the architectural assets of london. Thanks

    1. Thank you very much for all your hard work. Really couldn’t happen without the volunteers. However, I thought as a volunteer you got to bypass the queues at most sites.

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