Showing posts with label ExCel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ExCel. Show all posts

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Moving West to East in London

There can be no doubt about it: the 'centre of gravity' in London is moving from the western, typically more upmarket side of London, to the eastern, traditionally more working side.

Sure the west is still prospering, and generally speaking property prices and rentals are much higher in most parts of west London than in the east.  However gradually people are beginning to like particularly parts of east London more, and in the future many people will actually prefer to live there.

This ongoing change has come about for a number of reasons.  The development of the business location of Canary Wharf, a few miles to the east of the City of London, has encouraged people to live closer to where they are spending most of the day.  This has been helped by the building of dozens of high-rise luxury apartment buildings.  These are particularly popular if they have river, or even canal, views as everyone likes to look over water from their living rooms.

The Olympics being staged at Stratford helped a lot too as this event brought about the regeneration of one or two square miles of previously run-down land.  At the same time, the massive new Westfield Shopping Centre was built: with almost 300 stores and 70 bars and restaurants: this has meant that people living in the general area no longer need to head into the West End for their shopping.

And this remaking and improving of the East End is ongoing.  The next focus will be on the Royal Docks where large-scale business parks are going ahead, along with luxury apartment developments.  With the famous Earls Court exhibition centre due to be demolished within the next year, the ExCel Centre which overlooks the Royal Docks will monopolise the staging of exhibitions in London.

Plenty more can be written about future developments in East London, so look out for future posts on specific topics.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Cable Car connecting O2 Centre with Royal Docks

Since shortly before the 2012 Olympics in London there has been a cable car running over the Thames River in East London which has proved to be very popular with visitors to London.

Admittedly this is not of a particularly grand scale, as it covers a distance of probably less than a kilometre.  However it needs to go high above the river, to pass over large boats going up and down, so there are spectacular views of City Airport, the Canary Wharf development, and the magnificent O2 Centre.

Each cabin can hold up to 10 passengers, five to a side facing each other.  Crossing time can be as little as five minutes, although it seems that the controllers can slow this to eight minutes if there isn't too much demand from waiting passengers at either end, so that there is more opportunity to study the views.

On the North Greenwich side there is a Underground station, and the cable car is just a few minutes walk away.  While there you might as well look inside the O2 Centre.  This is easily the most popular concert venue in the world, and can hold up to 20,000 people for performances.  At present the Monty Python revival is playing there.  Adjacent is the Indigo, which can cater audiences up to 2,000.  Circled around the main arena are many bars and restaurants, and a few shops as well.  If you are feeling energetic enough there is a walk right over the curve of the O2 Centre, with walkers being connected to safety lines and accompanied by guides.

On the other side, at the Royal Docks, the Royal Victoria Docklands Light Railway (DLR) station is just a few minutes walk from the cable car.  There are many hotels in this area including a Crowne Plaza, Novotel, Ibis, and moored nearby a recently arrived passenger cruise style boat which has around 130 cabins.  Also close is the ExCel Centre, now easily London's largest exhibition centre, which is worth walking through as it is more attractive inside than outside.

Another feature is the Siemens Sustainability Centre, which is a kind of museum concentrating on exhibitions showing how we can live in a more sustainable world in the future.  There are many interesting displays, and the centre will appeal particularly to children, even though there is lots to challenge the thinking of adults as well.

The cable car is largely sponsored by Emirates, which must be gaining a great deal of useful positive publicity having its name closely associated with the service.  For the time being the cable car is not carrying as many passengers as originally intended, mainly because very few work commuters need to use it.  However particularly during the summer it is popular with tourists, as it allows an alternative perspective of parts of east London.  On warm and sunny days there can be large queues, so it is best to go in the mornings on weekdays rather than at the weekend.

Here is a YouTube video which will give you an impression of the cable car experience, starting from the Royal Docks side, crossing to North Greenwich.