The Anonymous Widower

Grenfell Tower Fire: ‘Systemic Failures’ In Fire Brigade’s Response

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) has been condemned for “serious shortcomings” and systemic failures in its response to the Grenfell Tower fire, in a report into the 2017 blaze.

I am particularly worried about the stay-put policy.

In the 1950s, I was a member of the Scouts and several times we did exercises with them, where we were taught how to get out of blazing buildings. We were also used as dummy causalities in major incident training.

Certainly, the advice then for a fire was to get out.

Around 1970, I worked on chemical plants for ICI and fire safety was taken very seriously.

I remember being told to know your escape route from where you were working. And get out fast, if anything happened. Not that it did!

One other thing I remember is on the Wilton site, seeing office windows with “Perspex Window – Fine Hazard” stencilled on them.  The resaon for this, was that a nearby polythene plant very occasionally caused spectacular arial explosions and glass windows were just too dangerous, as when shattered, they covered those inside with shatds of glass. If you read the story of the Summerland Disaster in August 1973, which killed fifty people.

Wikipedia says this about the building.

The street frontage and part of the roof was clad in Oroglas, a transparent acrylic glass sheeting.

Oroglas is a poly(methyl methacrylate) and is another tradename for the same plastic, which ICI called Perspex.

I’d left ICI, by the time of the Summerland Disaster, but I was still in contact with friends, who worked in Plastics Division, who were responsible for Perspex. One was very critical of the use of Oroglas in the building.

I should also say, that I have lived in a tower block with my family.

From my knowledge, I would not have lived in a building with flammable cladding.

Cromwell Tower in the Barbican is clad in concrete, with a network of tunnels going a couple of floors down from each flat on the thirty-five floors.

After the Grenfell Tower fire, I felt that architects and lawmakers have completely ignored the lessons of history!

Conclusion

There is a need to make sure that we take on board all the lessons of Grenfell, so that the chance of another disaster are minimised.

 

 

 

October 29, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Network Rail To Outline Business Case For Clapham Junction Redevelopment

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Network Rail have timetabled their plans to publish a strategy outline business case (SOBC) for the redevelopment of Clapham Junction station.

The public body told delegates at a rail conference in London that it intends to lay out the strategy by the end of the year.

To get a better idea of Clapham Junction station, this Google Map shows the station.

And this map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the track layout.

Note.

  1. The track layout is extremely complicated.
  2. A large amount of the area of the station is used for stabling of trains.
  3. The large number of platforms connected by a pedestrian bridge in the middle.
  4. There are a lot of stairs and lifts between the bridge and the platforms.

This description of the amount of traffic through the station is from Wikipedia.

Routes from London’s south and south-west termini, Victoria and Waterloo, funnel through the station, making it the busiest in Europe by number of trains using it: between 100 and 180 per hour except for the five hours after midnight. The station is also the busiest UK station for interchanges between services.

All of this adds up to a challenging problem, that if it can be solved, will fulfil these objectives.

  • Greatly improve the passenger experience.
  • Increase the train and passenger capacity of the station.
  • Create more and longer platforms.
  • Create or release lots of space for housing and other developments.
  • Make the station ready for the Northern Line Extension from Battersea and Crossrail 2.

All of the development must be carried out with as little disruption to trains and passengers.

I’m no architect, but neither are Network Rail or were their predecessor British Rail, but they are good at creating well-thought out track layouts.

I suspect somewhere in a drawer or on a computer, is a British Rail plan for how the station could be laid out.

Such a plan probably existed for London Bridge station and with the design from good architects and structural engineers on top, one of the best terminal stations in the World has been built.

The Rail Technology Magazine article talks of decking over the whole station and putting two million square feet of development on top. But it also cautions, it would be very expensive.

  • Could an imaginative architect create a unique development?
  • Clapham Junction station, is the best-connected railway station in the South of London.
  • Could the development be built with very little provision for car parking?
  • Is the land strong enough for a cluster of high tower blocks?
  • Could green space be provided?

I’ve lived in the Barbican with a young family and that estate works. But it should be remembered that the City of London had a completely cleared site at the Barbican, due to Nazi bombing.

So would decking over the station, be the way to create a cleared site to create a high-quality eco-friendly development for all?

I think it would and I think it could allow the development to be built at an affordable price.

I also feel that the important objective of building the development without disrupting trains and passengers can be met, by arranging construction in the right order.

Conclusion

Clapham Junction station is a unique site on which to build and like the Barbican, if we build it right, it will be admired fifty years later.

 

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Walking The Crossrail Route Between Farringdon And Moorgate Stations

I took these pictures on the route between Farringdon and Moorgate stations via Barbican station.

Note.

  • The massive amount of new development along the route.
  • The new site for the Museum of London.
  • Smithfield Market, which surely will be developed or refurbished.
  • The large amount of housing in the Barbican Estate.
  • The new office developments surrounding Moorgate station.

To me, one of the most interesting developments, is the creation of new walkways across the Barbican Estate and through the new office developments to link Batrbican and Moorgate stations to London Wall and walking routes going towards St. Pauls, Bank and the River.

Crossrail will serve the City indirectly using a modicum of walking in at a pleasant height away from the traffic.

September 4, 2018 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Banksy At The Barbican

These pictures show Banksy’s new art at the Barbican.

As it’s in a tunnel, that is probably owned by the City of London Corporation, I doubt it will be removed or stolen.

Is Banksy going upmarket choosing underneath the Barbican?

September 18, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Crossrail’s Big Hole In The Barbican

Last night, I went to a lecture about Crossrail in the City of London Girl’s School in the Barbican. It is not an area, I visit often, but I did fulfil one of the ambitions C and myself had had since it was built about twenty years ago. That was to have a meal in the Pizza Express in the building  called Alban Gate, that is suspended over London Wall.

I was surprised to see this big hole in the plaza that ran south of the Barbican to London Wall.

Crossrail's Big Hole In The Barbican

Crossrail’s Big Hole In The Barbican

Forty years ago, when I lived in the Barbican, I used to walk across this area and take the bridge that then gave access to streets that led down to Bank, where I worked as a consultant on costing software. The buildings in this area were a group of rather unlovely office blocks, that only demolition would improve. I did find this picture taken five years ago, which shows London Wall in a picture set I uploaded, entitled Going Back to the Barbican.

DSCN2841

This Google Earth image shows the Barbican.

Barbican Estate

Barbican Estate

We used to live in Cromwell Tower, which is to the north of the estate. It is a triangular tower to the north-east of the semi-circular building, which is above the Barbican Centre. The dual-carriageway road at the bottom is London Wall, with Alban Gate about halway along and the Myseum of London at the western end.

The hole shown in my picture doesn’t seem to have been created, but is between Alban Gate and the distinctive Moor House, which is near to the stations at Moorgate.

Sometimes, when I look at the Barbican, I wish that I’d moved there five years ago. Especially as now, I tend to live a simple life at home, that needs just one good bed, a kitchen and good television, broadband and transport links.

I suppose I could always move! But I’ve never been one for that! I just prefer and like updating properties.

May 7, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment

Did They Give This Building An Unlucky Name?

This article on the BBC describes a fire in a residential building called The Torch.

I suspect, if it is save, that the building will be renamed.

I’ve lived in a tower block in the Barbican and I can remember discussing with C at the time, the film Towering Inferno. It didn’t bother us living high in a tower, but we never saw the film.

I still haven’t!

February 21, 2015 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Around The Barbican

After my visit to the Cheapside Hoard, I walked across the Barbican to do some shopping at the Waitrose there.

I can’t resist taking pictures of the iconic buildings, where C and myself brought up our young family.

Note the elegant public lift to the podium, which enables a corner to be cut off.

October 15, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Barbican Station

I have some happy memories of Barbican Station and on Saturday, I passed through on the way to the Anniversary Games.

Barbican Station

Barbican Station

I can particular remember pushing our youngest son in his buggy along the central platform, from where the picture was taken, sometimes with C and our two sons and sometimes without.

Sad to think, that C and the baby in the buggy have both died from cancer.

July 27, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The Last Quartet

I saw this film last night and it was thoroughly enjoyable and a very good study of the tensions and relationships of a group of talented people.

In some ways, I found it a bit allegorical, as the tensions between the major players in Metier, were rather similar at times, although we had simpler relationships.

Of course, philistine that I am, I didn’t recognise any of the music in the film. This probably means that you don’t have to be a music lover to enjoy the film.

I saw it in the excellent Barbican Cinema and afterwards had a drink looking out of the window, at the front door of Cromwell Tower.  That was a bit surreal and I did wonder how my life would have mapped out, if C and myself had kept the flat there, which we probably would have done, if Metier had been sold earlier.

Do we just go round in circles in our lives?

April 8, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tall Residential Buildings

London is having a sprouting of tall residential buildings like Vermilion.

As someone, who with his late wife, brought their children up in one of the tallest building in Europe in Cromwell Tower, I can’t say I am against this trend.

One of my sons, still talks with affection about living there.

Provided of course, that they are well-designed and built.

January 16, 2013 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment