City Hall, London

Designed by Lord Foster and opened in 2002, City Hall is the headquarters of the Greater London Authority. Located near Tower Bridge, the 45 metre high steel and glass structure is not to everybody’s taste and former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone once referred to it as a “glass testicle”. More than one commentator has noted that the building is a statement on transparent government!

© Christopher Seddon 2009

Trellick Tower

Designed by Ernő Goldfinger, Trellick Tower in North Kensington was commissioned by the Greater London Council in 1966 and completed in 1972. The 322ft late Modernist towerblock is now a Grade II* listed building, but Goldfinger’s work has not always been to everybody’s taste.

Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, was definitely not a fan and it is no coincidence that 007’s most memorable opponent was named Auric Goldfinger. Auric’s real-life counterpart failed to see the funny side when the original novel came out and threatened to sue. As part of a rather bizarre out-of-court settlement, Ernő Goldfinger eventually accepted six copies of the book!

© Christopher Seddon 2009

Alexandra Palace transmission mast

The BBC began transmitting from Alexandra Palace in 1936. Transmissions were interrupted by the war with the closedown occurring in the middle of a Mickey Mouse cartoon. During the war, the transmitter was used to jam the radio navigation system used by the Luftwaffe (a forerunner of GPS). TV transmissions resumed after the war and continued until 1956, when operations were relocated to Crystal Palace. The transmitter is still used for local analogue television transmission, local commercial radio and DAB broadcasts.

© Christopher Seddon 2009

Empress State Building, Earls Court

Named for the Empress Theatre which formerly stood on the site in Lillie Road, the Empress State Building was constructed in 1961. Originally intended as a hotel, it has thoughout its existence been used as an office building. People of a certain age (including myself!) will recall exterior shots of the building featuring in the ‘Sixties SF series Space Patrol. After it became vacant in 1997, plans were put forward for its use as a hotel, and thought was given to its demolition. Fortunately refurbishment turned out to be a cheaper option and this was carried out between 2001-03, with extra floors being added at the top. However it continued to be used as office space and currently the building is occupied by Metropolitan Police and Transport for London.

© Christopher Seddon 2009

Centre Point

One of the first skyscrapers in London, Centre Point was built as a speculative office development by property developer Harry Hyams. Designed by Richard Seifert and constructed between 1963 and 1966, it is now a Grade II listed building.

Centre Point became a cause célèbre with the political Left throughout the 1970s as Hyams left the building empty for many years, wanting to let it out on a long lease to a single tenant. With property prices rising, he could afford to wait. The building was eventually let out to the CBI in 1980.

© Christopher Seddon 2009

Benedict Arnold

Regarded by most Americans as an arch traitor, Benedict Arnold spent the latter years of his life at an address in Gloucester Place, Central London, a fact commemmorated by this plaque which I came across by complete accident. The house is less than a mile away from the US Embassy, whose website draws attention to both it and the plaque. Despite the considerable improvement in relations between Britain and the US since the War of Independence, the website makes it fairly clear that it does not endorse the sentiments on the plaque!

© Christopher Seddon 2009

Wedmore Court, London N19

Although it will probably never attain Grade I Listed status, the slightly retro Scandinavian style of this small North London private estate has stood the test of time rather better than the Toytown architecture that was typical of 1980s and 1990s speculative housing developments.

Constructed in 1986 on land formerly owned by British Rail, Wedmore Court comprises just over 50 houses and flats. The estate is run by Wedmore Court Management, a limited company wholly-owned by the residents, who also own the freehold of the flats through a sister company, Wedmore Gardens Limited. The estate has its own website

© Christopher Seddon 2009