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"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Elephant subways go, along with their lovely tiles

Oh the deep dark secrets of the Elephant! Never again will we be able to enjoy them, or fear them, in the way we once did.
Read on the excellent LondonSE1 community blog that three more subways at Elephant & Castle shopping centre have been closed as redevelopment of the area continues.

Apparently there are now only three of the old subways left open - the ones beneath the New Kent Road and the centre, and two to the island in the middle of the roundabout.

Not many people seem likely to lament the loss of the formerly pink-clad shopping centre and its multiplicity of tiled and muraled pedestrian underpasses, but I for one am sad.

I got to know the centre back in the 70s when I  worked as a clerical assistant on the sixth floor of the DHSS hq, Alexander Fleming House, while Keith Jospeh was health secretary.

This great building, one of Ernő Goldfinger's designs, which seemed so new and tall then, is now a pygmy apartment block looking up coyly towards the show-off high-rise stuff being erected all round. But it was once the centrepiece of this area - watch this fascinating documentary from BBC 4.

Yeah, I'm sad, especial at the idea that the centre and all those new Latino businesses that have sprung up will be pushed out…and sad at the loss of that tiled subterranean world. Just as I was sad to see the almost Romanesque tunnels and arches of Tottenham Court Road tube station swept away to be replaced the the New Clean Sleek stuff of the Crossrail era.

To find out what's going to happen at the Elephant, you will need to negotiate a series of flashy, flash-rich websites, saturating with this joint effort between the London Borough of Southwark and developers, Lend Lease. If you want to know what's happening to the shopping centre, you will need to navigate through the fragrant shallows of the retail group Delancey which bought the centre (in a 50:50 deal with APG) two years ago.

It doesn't actually tell you very much, and there's no mention of the subways at all. I wonder what they've done to all those lovely coloured tiles….maybe they will re-use them?

lol. (the photos that  illustrate this were taken back in 2014).

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