This was a rearranged walk, the planned one from Pulborough to Amberley being cancelled due to lack of trains. Thirteen of us started from St James’s Park station then through St James’s Park, Green Park and Hyde Park. With the exception of one or two areas of formal planting, the Royal Parks were all looking pretty brown though it was interesting to see what plants had done better in the long hot spell. The Canadian water feature in Green Park was turned off.
Reaching Kensington Gardens, we turned south, down the side of the former Derry and Toms department store. The older members could recall when this was occupied by BIBA, the epitome of 60’s and 70’s British fashion. We meandered down through some of the smarter Kensington streets and squares, reaching West Brompton Cemetery. Here we had a picnic lunch, and were joined by Harriet and Sandra. The cemetery was built in the 19th century as a commercial venture with imposing neo classical buildings to convince the public it was a suitable last resting place for their loved ones. There are many notable people buried there, including Emmeline Pankhurst.
We headed on south, crossing the river at Battersea bridge and followed the Thames path back, passing through Battersea Park, and the old power station site, having a welcome al fresco drink at 9 Elms. We made a brief detour to the new American embassy, with its impressive moat and planting. Yet more amazing is the glass swimming pool which spans between two apartment blocks, several storeys above ground level.A final crossing of the river at Vauxhall and the path through Embankment gardens took us past the Houses of Parliament and to Westminster station where we said our goodbyes. An enjoyable day out; thanks to those who came out and to Ida, Stuart and Pam for the photos.
The former Derry and Toms building, has a fabulous roof garden, dating from the 1930’s which includes Moorish features and even had resident flamingos. It was available for functions, no doubt at some considerable price. It is currently closed and its future is uncertain – due to its listing it is being maintained and is unlikely to be demolished. However, there are currently no plans to make it open to the public. Sandra and I went there in 2009, and had an enjoyable lunch in the restaurant below. Here’s how it was then.