Always one to make the most of a metropolitan stop-off, I arranged to meet some London friends and do some sightseeing before flying out to Chernobyl.
Now, when I say ‘sightseeing’ I mean the Dystopia Photography interpretation. Firstly, I planned to visit tower bridge. Standing in the middle of the road with traffic rushing past seemed like the perfect opportunity for some long-exposure light trail work.
The finished image turned out better than I could have imagined so we were off to a good start as I prepared for the main event of the weekend’s inner-city tourism.
The next place I had photographs planned for was a little more difficult to access but the pay-off promised to be huge.
The thirty-storey Kings Reach Tower dominates the South Bank landscape as it pierces up through the sky. The structure and it’s surrounding buildings are currently undergoing extreme redevelopment and modernisation. As such, the tower has been stripped down to the bare concrete with even the stairs taken out.
As is the case with most major central London building sites, despite being semi-abandoned there was substantial security in place – foot patrols, high fencing and more CCTV than you could shake a nightstick at. My friend and I did the only sensible thing and climbed in.
Once inside we navigated the maze of worker access corridors and walkways eerily illuminated despite the late hour and apparent lack of staff. There was a very real constant fear that we would bump into the staff around every corner we met.
Thankfully, we found ourselves without company and we eventually located and accessed the rickety metal workers’ stairs leading up the outside of the building – all thirty floors of it. The wind howled and whistled through the caged steps as we ascended. The image above will give you some idea of how we felt looking down from only part way up the structure.
After much climbing, we found ourselves on the wind-exposed top of the tower.
You have to go to some drastic lengths to see a sky of stars somewhere as light-polluted as London. Here, you can see the fractured skeleton of the building as they dismantle the upper floors in preparation for redevelopment.
Looking north-east you can see much of London illuminated with all manner of street-lights, buildings and traffic. I strongly encourage you to click these photographs to open larger versions as the detail is quite hypnotising.
The recently-completed Shard stands towering above surrounding offices lending a dramatic sense of height to the skyline.
After moving to the west edge of the tower’s rooftop I was able to clearly make out the London Eye as the river flows inland through the still-awake city.
My friend and I had some valid concerns about the feasibility of making it to the roof as well as the likelihood of ending (unjustly) in a police cell for our curiosity. As it happened, the endeavour proceeded without a hitch and we were both extremely please to have achieved a view few get to see.
…and for once, in London, we didn’t have to pay an entry fee!