Posted by: Gary Klaukka | December 2, 2010

Rotherhithe

As a sprinkling of snow landed upon London, I thought it to be a good day to go and explore the part of the city with a distinctly Nordic background. Rotherhithe is a part of South-East London that used to be busy with sea trade, particularly with the Baltic and Nordic countries. As the ports moved to other places in England, Rotherhithe itself began to gentrify. My walk through Rotherhithe today follows section seven of the Jubilee Greenway. I took the DLR to Cutty Sark and started proceeding east and then north from there.

Jubilee Walkway

Canary Wharf from the walkway

The Jubilee Walkway was helpfully signposted with mounted plastic signs on the pavement. I walked through the leafy streets of Deptford and started heading closer to Rotherhithe. The walkway did not follow the river at all times, which led me to some architectural discoveries.

Eddystone Tower

Located near the junction of Grove Street and Oxestalls Road is the striking modernist Eddystone Tower. Completed in 1966, it comprises 26 storeys and is 78 metres tall. It is the tallest element of the Pepys Estate (if the nearby privately-owned Aragon Tower is not considered to be a part of the estate). The estate had long been a troubled one: it was known for racial tension and a general feeling of insecurity. Many housing estates designed in this era featured long (and possibly badly-lit) corridors, which at times have resulted in crime. Similar problems existed with Trellick Tower, leading to it being dubbed the “tower of terror”. The Hyde Housing Association took over the Pepys Estate in 2001 and started addressing the problems by regenerating the area. The security problem was addressed by removing some bridges between blocks and increasing the number of staircases and lifts.

The Curlicue by William Pye

Walking further along the pathway, I arrived at Greenland Dock, where my attention was drawn to a reflective and fluid maritime-themed sculpture by William Pye – the Curlicue. Confusingly, a website associated with William Pye calls the sculpture the Quillion and indicates it was made in 1970 – 19 years before being installed in Rotherhithe. Pye later on started using water and stone – more natural elements – but the fluidity of the Curlicue has a natural complexity to it. It has found its ideal location with the maritime background of the area.

Finland Street

Helsinki Square

Some street names near Greenland Dock are particularly Nordic. Pictured above are Finland Street and Helsinki Square. Perhaps the neighbourhood is meant to reflect Nordic architecture to a degree. Without the obvious hints in the street names, I fear that I would not have seen the connection. The names do, of course, pay homage to the history of the area.

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