19 September 2013

London: For Business and Pleasure

One of the world's great cities, London has it all, from countless historic buildings to grand royal palaces, and from great restaurants and authentic British pubs to cutting-edge modern architecture and vast public parks.
Your MoMI chief editor recently had an opportunity to visit London on business, from 8-15 September 2013.  And while the primary purpose of the trip meant long hours, much of it inside, who could pass up an opportunity to get out and do some sightseeing when time permitted?  Given a previous trip to London in 2009 (see earlier postings on the MoMI), it was decided to devote the available free time to seeing sights missed in '09, as well as revisiting a few of the fondly-remembered places.  Please find below a selection of photos taken during this whirlwind week in London...

First, some shots related to the 'business' portion of the trip:

The Millennium Mayfair Hotel, Grosvenor Square
Electronic keycards for Room 381 at the Millennium Mayfair Hotel, Grosvenor Square

Millennium Mayfair Hotel, Room 381

Macdonald House, the Canadian High Commission (embassy) in London

A view of the DSEI defence and security exhibition, held at the ExCel Centre in East London every two years.  DSEi is the world's largest fully-integrated defence and security exhibition, attracting 30,000 visiotors, hundreds of companies, and dozens of official government delegations.

A BAE Systems display outside the ExCel Centre, featuring a Eurofighter Typhoon (left and a Supermarine Spitfire (right).

A Royal Navy Merlin helicopter on display at DSEI.

A Lynx helicopter aboard the Royal Navy Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland, moored alongside the ExCel Centre for DSEI 2013.

And now photos of the "pleasure" part of the trip:

Grosvenor Square

The memorial to victims of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in America.

A sculpture of U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt stands at the northern end of
Grosvenor Square, within sight of the U.S. Embassy, located at the western end of the park. 
Hay's Galleria, a shopping concourse and visitor attraction on the Jubilee Walk on the south bank of the Thames in Southwark.  Opened in 1987, Hay's Galleria features a large sculpture/water feature, The Navigators, by David Kemp.

 Highrise construction in central London, as seen from the south bank of the Thames near London Bridge.  On the left is 20 Fenchurch Street (known as the 'Walkie-Talkie') and in the middle is 122 Leadenhall Street (known as the 'Cheesegrater').  30 St. Mary Axe, more popularly known as the 'Gherkin', opened in 2004, stands on the right. 

Part of the More London complex, a 13-acre development along the south bank of the Thames which also includes London City Hall.  The complex was designed by Sir Norman Foster and Partners.
A view of Picadilly Circus

Looking east along Coventry Street at Picadilly Circus.
A 2013 edition of the London Underground map.  Note the 150th anniversary marking, as the Tube celebrates 150 years of service to Londoners in 2013.

Regent Street, near Picadilly Circus.

The Shard, London's tallest skyscraper at 87 stories.  Opened in February 2013, The Shard stands 1,004 feet high.

The famous Tower Bridge
The decommissioned Royal Navy light cruiser HMS Belfast, a museum ship moored in the Pool of London, upstream of Tower Bridge.  Commissioned in August 1939, Belfast participated in numerous actions during the Second World War and Korean War before being decommissioned in August 1963 and opened as a museum in October 1971.  HMS  Belfast is part of the Imperial War Museum network.

A closer view of HMS Belfast, taken on the quiet, sunny morning of Sunday, 15 September 2013.

A view of Belfast's stern, showing the long gangway permitting visitors to board the ship on the port quarterdeck.

Kiosks set up along the Jubilee Walk along the south bank of the Thames as part of the Mayor of London's Thames Festival, running from 6-15 September 2013. This photo was taken on the festival's last day. The previous evening between 7:45pm and 8:30pm, thousands of spectators watched 1513: A Ships' Opera, by Richard Wilson and Zatorski + Zatorski. The show featured "an armada of historic vessels from the age of sail, steam and diesel" which "perform[ed] a live, moving, operatic concerto of ships’ steam whistles, bells, horns, hooters, sirens and cannon as the centrepiece of the 2013 Thames Festival." 

A choir gathers and warms up prior to an open-air concert in The Scoop, a sunken amphitheatre located next to City Hall in the More London development.

Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London.

And London by night...

Admiralty Arch, completed in 1912.

A nighttime view of the illuminated Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace.

Buckingham Palace

The Palace of Westminster, as seen from the Westminster Bridge at night.

The National Gallery and the fountains of Trafalgar Square on the night
of 8 September 2013.
Dusk falls over London: The Shard's distinctive design showcases the cutting-edge architecture of this grand city.

For a change of pace, we head to the idyllic surroundings and relaxed atmosphere of the Royal Borough of Greenwich:

A view along College Approach, one of Greenwich's quaint streets, populated by pubs, restaurants, and boutiques.
The tea clipper Cutty Sark (975 gross registered tonnes, 212' 5" in length), launched in 1869.  One of the last such clipper ships used in the tea trade, Cutty Sark was taken out of service in 1954 and subsequently opened as a museum ship in a specially-built drydock.  Despite a fire that nearly destroyed the ship on 21 May 2007, Cutty Sark was restored and reopened to the public in 2012.   

Wrought iron gates on the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College.

The Queen Mary Building, on the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College.  The buildings and grounds, designed by Sir Christopher Wren at the end of the 17th century, are now part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site.

A closer view of the Queen Mary Building.

The Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, on the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College.

Looking up Greenwich Church Street on a rainy afternoon in Greenwich.

Entrance gate to the Old Royal Naval College grounds.

The Gypsy Moth pub on Greenwich Church Street.

A distinctive British red phone booth at the corner of Romney Road and King William Walk in Greenwich.
Looking up King William Walk on the way to Greenwich Park.
The free guide to the Royal Museums Greenwich, comprising the National Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the Queen's House, and the Cutty Sark historic ship.


The gravel path leading to the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. This free museum is dedicated to Britain's seafaring history and houses an extensive collection of nautical and maritime artefacts.
A closer view of the National Maritime Museum in the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site.  The museum opened in 1934 in the building formerly housing the Royal Naval Hospital School.

A stockless anchor from the Royal Navy's last conventional aircraft carrier, HMS Ark Royal, now on display at the entrance to the National Maritime Museum.

A gigantic builders' model of the Second World War-era battleship King George V, on display near the entrance to the museum.
The National Maritime Museum's collection of Royal Navy ship badges.

Ship's badge for the Royal Navy battlecruiser HMS Renown, commissioned in 1916 and scrapped in 1948.
The museum's collection of ship's figureheads.
The figurehead from HMS Ajax, a 74-gun third rate launched in 1809, converted to screw propulsion in 1846, and broken up in 1864.  A smaller figurehead of a bulldog is mounted on the right.
One of the displays within the Maritime London: 1700 to Now gallery.
The state barge built for Frederick, Prince of Wales, eldest son of King George II, in 1732.  Measuring 63 feet in length, the barge would have been rowed by 21 oarsmen, and was gilded in 24-carat gold leaf throughout.  

A side-lever steam engine from the paddle-wheel tugboat Reliant (ex-Old Trafford), which served on the Manchester Ship Canal from 1907 to 1950, and then in Newcastle until the late-1960s.
The National Maritime Museum's Great Map.
Statues of some of Brtiain's great sea captains: Admiral Sir James Saumarez (centre); Captain Sir William Peel (right); Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith (left).  Behind Saumarez is a statue of Admiral Sir Edward Pellew.   

Captain Sir William Peel

Model of HMS Cornwallis, a 54-gun fourth rate ship of the line, built in Bombay in 1801.

A view of the model ships displayed in the museum's Ship of War: Models 1660-1815 gallery, outlining the development in warship design, armament, and protection, as well as telling the history of the models presented, all but two of which were built at approximately the same time as the ships they depict. 

A model of HMS Royal Oak.
A shot of the gallery entitled, The Atlantic: Slavery, Trade, Empire.  According to the museum, this exhibit traces "the movement of people, goods and ideas across and around the Atlantic Ocean from the 17th century to the 19th century."

A model ship and landing craft/barge on display.

Paintings of sailing ships displayed in The Atlantic: Slaverty, Trade, Empire.

Below: Photos of Traders: the East India Company and Asia, a new permanent gallery at the National Maritime Museum.  This exhibit traces the history of the East India Company from its origins in the 1600s to its downfall after the 1857 Indian Mutiny.  According to the museum, "[t]he gallery explores the influence of Company trade and power, tracing the changing relationships between Britain and Asia that this brought about.  This trade involved key commodities, different locations and many people. It had consequences that changed Britain and the world and still affect us today."

A ship-in-a-bottle sculpture on display behind the National Maritime Museum.

Walking down The Ave in Greenwich Park.  Up a hill to the right is Greenwich Observatory.

A view of Greenwich Park and, beyond, the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf on the north bank of the Thames.
A closer look at the broad, green lawns of Greenwich Park and Canary Wharf.

The monument to General James Wolfe, the victor of Quebec.  This monument is located next to the Greenwich Observatory, with Wolfe's statue looking out over Greenwich Park from the top of the hill.

The famous Royal Observatory Greenwich, site of the prime meridian, marking 0 degrees of longitude and thus the dividing line between the eastern and western hemispheres.

The Shepherd gate clock installed in 1852 and designed to show Greenwich Mean Time.  The measurements on the black board below the clock depict the public standards of length and were displayed here to allow members of the public to verify measurements.

A takeaway menu from the Nando's franchise in Greenwich.  Located on the bank of the Thames only a few yards from the Cutty Sark, this Nando's offers diners spectacular views of the river, the town, and the historic tea clipper ship while enjoying the piri-piri chicken and homestyle side dishes for which Nando's is famous.    

And, finally, some photos of the excellent Royal Air Force Museum, located in North London at the former RAF Hendon airfield, only a short walk from the Colindale Underground Station:

The sign for the RAF Museum in Hendon, prominently displayed on the side of one of the hangars containing dozens of historic aircraft.

A Bristol Bloodhound surface-to-air missile, Britain's primary air defence weapon from its introduction in December 1958 to 1991, when it was withdrawn from RAF service.  Bloodhounds were also operated by Australia, Sweden, Singapore, and Switzerland.

A Supermarine Spitfire is the centrepiece of an exterior display used by historical reenactors in period costume to represent life around a Second World War fighter airfield. 
The Milestones of Flight gallery, showcasing notable flying machines from the dawn of aviation history right up to the present.
The British/German/Italian-designed EADS Eurofighter Typhoon fighter hangs suspended from the ceiling of the Milestones of Flight gallery.

A United States Army Air Force P-51 Mustang fighter on display in the Milestones of Flight gallery.

EADS Eurofighter Typhoon, the current mainstay of the Royal Air Force
tactical fighter fleet.

Another view of the EADS Eurofighter Typhoon.

BAe Harrier GR3

A de Havilland Mosquito B35, the final bomber variant of the Mosquito, which made its first test flight on 12 March 1945 and never saw operational service in the Second World War.  Due to its wooden construction and lack of anti-aircraft armament, the Mosquito was famous for its high speed, which it used to escape pursuing enemy fighters. The B35 variant served in its bomber role in the Royal Air Force until early 1954, with some aircraft being converted for other uses, like target towing, and serving on until 1963.
A Gloster Meteor F9/40 prototype of the first jet fighter to enter Royal Air Force service.  This aircraft was the first F9/40 manufacturered by Gloster Aircraft Company.

The fuselage of the full-scale mockup F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, depicting the nine partner nations and main contractors involved in the design and development of this novel, fifth-generation fighter aircraft.

Full-scale mockup of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, which will serve as the backbone of Britain's tactical fighter fleet for the first half of the 21st century.  The mockup was donated to the museum by F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

Messerschmitt Me-262 fighter bomber

German Fokker D.VII, one of the outstanding fighters of the First World War.

Remains of a Handley Page Halifax bomber

A 22,000 lb (10,000 kg) Grand Slam earthquake bomb on its transporter cradle.  These bombs were dropped by RAF Bomber Command Avro Lancasters against strategic targets in Nazi Germany.  Designed to penetrate concrete roofs, the Grand Slam reached near-supersonic speed after being dropped, penetrating deep underground and exploding with sufficient force to undermine the foundations of buildings, hydro dams, and other key installations.  

Avro Lancaster bomber

The Royal Air Force Marching Band plays an impromptu concert in the display hangar, 14 September 2013.

Hawker Siddeley Vulcan bomber, part of Britain's V-bomber nuclear deterrent force.  The Vulcan was in RAF service between 1956 and 1984, first in the nuclear deterrent role and later as a low-level bomber, maritime radar reconnaissance aircraft, and aerial tanker. 
Boeing B-24 Liberator bomber, the aircraft that closed the Atlantic Gap during the Second World War, permitting end-to-end aerial cover for convoys transiting between North America and the UK. 
Messerschmitt Bf-109G

Bristol Beaufort VIII general reconnaissance and torpedo bomber aircraft.  A total of 1,380 (including 700 Australian-built versions) were produced, and the aircraft type saw service in the North Sea, English Channel, Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Indian Ocean. 

Curtiss Kittyhawk

de Havilland DH9A medium bomber, introduced in 1918.  The DH9A saw limited service in the First World War, but comprised the Royal Air Force's backbone for post-war colonial bombing, seeing much service in Iraq and the Northwest Frontier of India.

English Electric Canberra PR3 long-range photo reconnaissance aircraft.  The Canberra was the RAF's first jet bomber, possessed no defensive armament, and relied on its high speed to escape enemy interceptors.  A total of 1,352 Canberras were built worldwide.

One of the 118 McDonnell Douglas Phantom FGR2 fighters, powered by British-built Rolls-Royce Spey engines, which served the RAF in the ground attack and tactical reconnaissance role while based in Germany during the Cold War.  From 1977, all RAF Phantoms were used in the interceptor role within UK airspace.  The last RAF Phantom unit disbanded in September 1992.

Focke-Wulf Fw190A-8/U-1 fighter bomber

Supermarine Spitfire MkVb.  A stop-gap aircraft hastily produced to supercede the Spitfire MkI and MkII, which had been outclassed by the German Bf109E in 1940, the Spitfire MkV combined the more powerful Rolls-Royce Merlin 45 engine with the proven Spitfire MkI airframe.  A total of 6,500 Spitfire MkVs were produced between 1941 and 1943, equipping 140 RAF fighter squadrons and being provided to the U.S. and Soviet Union.

Supermarine Stranraer flying boat, one of the last biplane flying boats to be manufactured.  Although seeing only limited RAF service, 40 Stranraer flying boats were built by Canadian Vickers for the Royal Canadian Air Force, for maritime patrol on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, finally being retired in February 1945. 

The Westland Belvedere HC1, the RAF's first twi-engine, twin-rotor helicopter, which saw extensive service in Britain's post-Second World War withdrawal from empire.  The natives of Borneo nicknamed the Belvedere 'The Flying Longhouse'.

Westland Wessex HCC4 helicopter of the Royal Flight.  This turbine-powered derivative of the American Sikorsky S58 first flew on 17 March 1969.  The helicopter's first operational flight was on 1 July 1969 in support of the Investiture of Prince Charles at Caernarfon Castle, Wales.  The two HCC4 helicopters of the Royal Flight were retired in 1998.

Panavia Tornado F.3 fighter, intended for long-range combat air patrols.  The Tornado F.3 first flew in 1985 and entered RAF service in April 1987.  The Tornado F.3 succeeded the BAC Lightning and McDonnell Douglas Phantom in the air defence role. The F.3 can patrol for over three hours at 300 nautical miles from its base, and simultaneously engage several targets.  The F.3 has been replaced in RAF service by the EADS Eurofighter Typhoon, though Saudi Arabia still operates the F.3 in front line service.

Hawker Hart Trainer, first built and flown in 1932.

Hawker Typhoon 1B.  Originally designed to succeed the Hawker Hurricane fighter, the Typhoon was plagued by early design problems but later was developed into a superb low-level close support aircraft, flying offensive sweeps over occupied France, Belgium, and Holland beginning in August 1942.  Excelling as a tank destroyer, the Typhoon supported Allied ground troops after the D-Day landings in June 1944, attacking enemy communications and transport.  With the end of the Second World War, specialised tasks for which the Typhoon was used were no longer required and the aircraft was quickly retired from service.  The RAF Museum's Hawker Typhoon is believed to be the only surviving example of this aircraft.

Battle ensign of U570, which surrendered to a Lockheed Hudson aircraft of 269 Squadron on 27 August 1941 and was subsequently commissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS Graph to test the German design and identify effective countermeasures against U-boats.

British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) Lightning F6, the RAF's first truly supersonic aircraft. The Lightning entered squadron service in June 1960, serving in the air defence role throughout its 28-year career in front line RAF service, both in UK airspace and in the Middle East, Far East, and Germany. Squadrons flying the Lightning began re-equipping with the McDonnell Douglas F4 Phantom in the early 1970s, but No. 5 and No. 11 Squadrons continued to fly the Lightning into the 1980s, with the last Lightning retiring from front line service in April 1988. The Lightning is notable as being the longest-serving fighter in the RAF.

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