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The Tower of the Lidless Eye rises anew!

Well over twenty years ago, I walked back from town towards Nunhead through the North-Peckham Walworth triangle with my old mate Dave Turtle. I mean that piece of land surrounded on the west by Walworth Road and Camberwell Green, on the South by Peckham High Street and Queen’s Road, and on the north-east by New Cross Road, Old Kent Road, and New Kent Road.

We walked across the bit of post-industrial desolation that was then just becoming Burgess Park – its quite pretty now but then it was basically a disused canal towpath connecting the abandoned church to the traveller’s site by way of an old school building full of squatters and a car-breaking yard, and looked out at the ramparts of North Peckham to the south and the flats round Albany Street and the Heygate and Amersham Estates to the North.

The first time he saw it, Dave named the place “Barad Dur”.

Here are those ramparts close-to:

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Just a silly joke. OR SO WE THOUGHT!!!!!!

Then, I first saw IT a few months ago, rising over the collapsing brutalist mass that surrounds the Elephant and Castle. What was it? It is in this picture taken from North Peckham – follow the link to the larger picture and look at the tower you can see in the distance on the left:

peckham_burgess_park

Is that what it looks like?

I had to find out.

For many hot and dreary weeks I quested through the railway cuttings, arches and twittens of South East London to get a better view of this monstrosity.

Finally, from behind a parapet in a dingy and little-used part of Waterloo station, I got a good view:

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Follow the link and open the larger the picture, IF YOU DARE. Look at the top of the new building. Is this not clearly the Tower of the Eye, Sauron’s fastness in Barad-Dur, being rebuilt in South London?

Take a closer look:

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CAN THERE BE ANY DOUBT?????

At the Elephant, after dark, I was able to approach unseen (I hope) almost to the base of the Evil Tower:

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The picture is, I know, vague and distorted. I hardly dare approach the orc-works so close in daylight. (As if the evil within cared for the sun or the moon! Aaaaaah! I am already weary!)

Look at the horrible gaping windows with a ghastly pale gangrenous death-light of putrescense oozing from them:

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This morning, in the rain, through distorted old plastic windows of the tunnel in the sky over Waterloo Road, I finally got a good picture. It looks almost beautiful, in its dull, damp, stony way:

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BUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT???!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!

At least one 53 bus has aircon!

I’ve been walking round the Peckham Triangle in the last few weeks. That is the area bounded by Old Kent Road, Walworth Road/Camberwell Road, and Peckham Road/Peckham High Street/Queen’s Road that my mate Dave used to call “Barad Dur” back in the 1980s because of the view of the Gloucester Grove slab blocks from Burgess park. In those days about a kilometre of brick-clad slabs, connected by round towers at the corners, like a curtain wall defending North Peckham from Walworth.

Most of that’s gone now, but about half of the slabs are still there, much cleaned up:

peckham_camberwell_gloucester_grove_7358 peckham_camberwell_gloucester_grove_7354 peckham_camberwell_gloucester_grove_7353

No long walks just four or five strolls of an hour or so each on different days, taking a few pictures mostly of churches and blocks of flats, seeing how things have changed. Some of the pictues are on the Flickr linked from here. There will be more. Basically I just break my journey home somewhere in the area, walk a bit, then get on another bus. And – oh glory! – that was how I found that at lest one 53 bus has airconditioning upstairs. I hardly wanted to get off it. Let us all praise Scania!

Sunday’s walk took me right by Lakanal on the Sceaux Estate, in which six people had been killed in a fire the day before. I could still smell the fire – house fires have a distinctive smell I might never forget. You could see how the fire went along the corridors and out the windows at the end, which I imagine is how the people got trapped.

They were calling them “tower blocks” on the radio on Monday morning, which conjours up the wrong idea in most people’s minds. These are not point blocks they are slab blocks. “Streets in the sky” as they used to say, with flats opening up onto internal corridors. I’ve never been inside any of these blocks, though I have stayed with friends in vaguely similar buildings on the Pepys estate in Deptford and Doddington in Battersea (before they were done up) I think they are two-story flats with more than one internal entrance each.

From the outside it looks as if there are seven or eight flats in a row but only one stairwell or liftshaft. So its not obvious how you could escape if the fire was between you and the stairs. There was a smug patronising architect on the radio this morning blaming the residents for not escaping fast enough. He didn’t seem to get the point that the fire spread up and down so even if you had two entrances to your flat both accessible corridors might be blocked by fire.

I didn’t take any close-ups of the burned building, it felt a little ghoulish. Also I’m knackered & not really into getting all the URLs and re-arranging them onto the page. So the pictures can stay on Flickr for a bit longer.

Though I did take one of it seen through a gap between buildings on Peckham Road just to show how close it is to the Town Hall – the counil offices and the Art College back right on to the estate:

Southwark Council offices and Lakanal House

Whatever else they can be accused of, they certainly knew what these flats were like because they look at them every day out of their office windows.