London Stories and Tips

A Walk Along the Southbank - Part 2

Southbank graffitti Photo, London, England

There are a lot of cultural buildings and things to see on the Southbank - the Southbank Centre is here, which houses a series of art galleries and theatres.

The Hayward Gallery is the first of these you come to. It is a art gallery focussed on modern artworks, but most interesting for children, is that it also has a neon tower that changes colour in the wind - look out for this. It has a nice big, bright foyer where they have lots of touch screens, which you can use to look at videos of the artists.

The Royal Festival Hall is also part of this complex. It was built for the 1951 Festival of Britain and is the only building that remains from this. It has a very modernist style - I don't think it is too attractive really, but it was the first post war building to be given a Grade I listing. Here they have a variety of shows and concerts. You can go in during the day, and sometimes there are free performances in the foyer. The auditorium itself is built very high up to insulate it from the sound of the nearby railway lines at Charing Cross Station. Inside they have lots of different galleries, shops, cafes and performance areas.

The National Theatre is the next place of interest - it has 3 theatres and sometimes free entertainment in the foyer. In the summer months they have an oudoor festival as well. We saw some unusual huge furniture here outside, made of astroturf - I think it was there for an outdoor performance, but children were enjoying climbing and sitting on it.

Look out as you walk along this area for different and unusual pieces of "artwork". We saw an interesting "tree" which was made from what looked like pieces of carpet. There is also a "head" made from Jenga and a big skateboarding area with lots of really cool graffitti.

Just a little bit further along too is the Oxo Tower Wharf. It was originally a power station. The "Oxo" Tower was built in 1928 when they used to make Oxo cubes here. The stained glass windows spell out the company name. The factory and this tower were in danger of being knocked down in the 1970's, but the public campaigned to save them and were successful with this. It has been rebuilt now and there are homes, shops, restaurants and galleries inside, and the original stained glass windows are still there.

During our walk, the tide was low and we saw areas of sand beside the river. We even saw a sand sculptor making sand models on these little beachy areas. It was fun and interesting to watch him as he worked.

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