London’s Changing skyline
I first came to London in 1986 and stayed with a friend in Vauxhall bridge road at the Gordon Hospital. A couple of years later in 1989 I moved permanently and again Vauxhall was where I spent much of my time. I rented a flat on the Wandsworth road, a two bedroom flat that cost me £27 pounds a week, unheard of these days.
1989 saw the start of construction of the Mi5 building, a bizarre looking sand coloured building which had manicured conifers on the roof when it first appeared, anyone remember those? Obviously the watering system didn’t work too well and they all shrivelled and disappeared.
The choice of Vauxhall for the Mi5 headquarters should have given a clue to potential of the area and yet it seemed to take an age before the rest of the plan would kick into action. The obstacle being the ever changing plans for Battersea power station. With building work finally under way on the power station the skyline is changing rapidly.
St Georges Wharf the green and pink ‘wedding cake’ stands next to Vauxhall Bridge on the site of the former Nine Elms Cold Store. Personally I prefer the look of the cold store, it may have been harsh and industrial but it was a lot more pleasing to the eye than the building that now stands in its place. An architect friend told me years ago that the reason the building took so long to develop was that they had to wait for the ice to thaw out which apparently took rather a long time as it went so deep into the ground.
Vauxhall has always been a destination for those seeking pleasure and with its central location it has generated lots of interest from property developers offering luxury apartments at grand prices.
This begs the question where will all the exiting business go when they move out, as seems inevitable. The gay bars and clubs that have occupied many of the arches in Vauxhall for the past twenty years seem to be under threat of eviction.
There are lots of rumours circulating that the whole club scene in Vauxhall is about to get a notice to quit. It will be a sad day if this happens, the gay club scene has always thrived in the less salubrious parts of town and provided a vibrant beating heart, when no one else would go anywhere near those areas.
Vauxhall needs a mixed community, will all types of businesses working in harmony. Lets hope we get this.