Boxing Day

December 26, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

After a very enjoyable but lazy day indoors on the 25th, we woke up to some exceptionally mild weather, and decided to do something we’ve never done before on Boxing Day… go for a bike ride.

So we headed out at about 11.30 ish and after a very enjoyable couple of hours or so of mooching along rivers, canals, back streets and virtually deserted city roads, we found ourselves at One New Change, Jean Nouvelle’s Stealth behemoth adjacent to St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Boxing Day sales are a slippery slope I know, and generally to be avoided at all costs, but to be fair to A, as she had predicted there was hardly anyone around, and empty shops do not a stressful experience make…

Not being much of a shopper myself, I left A to the sales, and headed up to the top of the building to take in the huge terrace and the rather wonderful roof top views of London.

It’s not exactly a 360° panorama, but it’s an impressive sight all the same, and the journey to the top offers an interesting view of St Paul’s through the angled glazing of the building.

Contained within the sloping glass cladding of one part of the roof, are some rather fine sculptures. Originally made by Sir Charles Wheeler, I can only assume that these wonderful carvings adorned the previous building that occupied the site. My apologies for the poor photos but the glass is rather dirty and the sun was directly behind me, but I think you can just about see the quality of his work.

Charles Wheeler (1892 -1970) was a highly regarded English sculptor, whose work can be seen in Trafalgar Square, and on various Embassies, Memorials and Ministerial Buildings that went up in the first half of the last century. Like most of the 20th Century sculptors that I admire, Wheeler worked in a contemporary style, avoiding the overly detailed work of many of his peers and producing work that was both powerful and modern, whilst still reflecting the ceremony and pagentry that was generally required of commissions from this period.

The building from which they came, the now demolished No. 1 New Change building was designed by the architect Victor Heal. It was a 1960’s office block that was much derided upon completion, being seen as something of an anachronism, harking back in style to the stripped down classicism of the interwar period, rather than embracing the more contemporary stylings of the 50’s and 60’s. It’s telling I think, that other than this site (from where I’ve borrowed these images) I can find very little about the building on line, which I suppose explains its lack of listed status and subsequent demolition…

I used to work around the corner from this building and can clearly remember a stainless steel plate engraved with a view across New Change, showing both St Paul’s and the building above. I was hoping to find it online somewhere, but sadly no one thought to record it.. (including me of course)

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