Did I say Necropolis Railway? Like, you mean, a train for dead people, going to the city of the dead? Yes. Yes I did. One of my favourite areas in London is around Lambeth and the Southbank of the river Thames. Not only do you hit obligatory tourist landmarks like Big Ben, London Dungeon and the London Eye, but there are loads of great spots near by that folks who aren’t local often don’t take the moment to appreciate on their whirlwind tour of the Fairest City of Them All [London].
In summer, the London Wonderground, on the Southbank just past the London eye is a great central spot for an evening outdoor drink in pleasant and unique surroundings, though note that this year the Wonderground is merging with the Udderbelly!!!! to become the Underbelly Festival (Read my article here!) under the sponsorship of the Hilton Hotels! It’s bound to be a delicious summer. The Underbelly Festival is a haven for London’s burlesque and alternative cabaret performers. There’s a wide selection from the host of shows on offer that are perfect for taking your gorgeous goth date out one dark summer eve. There’s also the Southbank Centre, Lambeth Palace, Whitehall Palace Banqueting House, and many other delightful spots nearby.
But the biggest two draw cards here for me are as I already mentioned, firstly the Necropolis Railway – 100% a much more important selfie destination than Big Ben. Every city has a clock tower the tourists can pose before, but what other city in the world has a disused station entrance still in existence from a time long past when the Victorian and Edwardian dead would be ferried to their final resting places by London Underground? The original facade of the second Necropolis station (the first was destroyed during the war) stands on Westminster bridge road, now hiding behind the moniker of Westminster Bridge House, but it’s still there, every bit as gothic, regal and mysterious as a cemetery station facade should be.
Once you’ve had a peek and a quick snap here, you can pop around the corner onto Lower Marsh where, just passed the Scooter Cafe (great indie stop for coffee), you’ll find the entrance to the Leake Street Tunnel.
Sadly this destination is under threat from development, but it’s one of my favourite London haunts, not only because I can pretty much detour any journey home via the tunnel, but because there is always something happening here. Always, no matter what time of night you are here. The Leake Street tunnel is London’s underground destination of choice for graffiti and street art, a tunnel that runs beneath Waterloo station from the Southbank to Lambeth North.
I’ve been a VIP at the Vans 50th birthday bash down here, I’ve watched the Fuel Girls partaking in a fiery after-dark photo shoot, seen fetish models squeezed into luxurious latex dresses, played with fire, watched business men from the City in their suits letting off steam by spray painting outrageous slogans on the walls after finishing work on a Friday evening, engaged in rap battles with local kids here after midnight, watched dance groups rehearse for auditions, and famous artists decorate the walls, only to witness the paintings disappear overnight to make way for new pieces. I’ve filmed down here, I’ve made friends down here, I even [rather awkwardly] posed for my photo when I was a finalist in the Ridley Scott Launchpad Manuscript competition down here.
Leake Street is a cultural destination, I sincerely hope it doesn’t just fade away, but if you are visiting London, you should pop by while you still can. The best time to go is early evening, or first thing on a Saturday morning when the art is getting started, making sure you return in the evening to see the finished works before they disappear.