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The Shard - From Another View Point

Home > London > Views | Places of Interest
by Shikainah Champion-Samuel (subscribe)
A great believer in exploring the off beat, non-touristy things hidden inside every city.
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Some fun facts discovered on the way up to the Shard
I feel like I am holding that giant magnifying glass giving a close-up of the Gaul village (for the uninitiated- that picture is on Page 1 of every Asterix comic by Goscinny & Uderzo). Except that I am not. Oh yes, I do have more than a bird's eye view of the roof tops, building terraces and the river, but it's not the Gaul village in 50 BC. It is atop the Shard.

Far below me, lies the city of London. I do not want to make this yet another review about the stunning views that one can get from the 72nd floor, where the viewing gallery is. Instead, I'd like to reflect on some of the little bits of trivia that I gathered on my way up here.

Maybe to make it fun, use the word S-H-A-R-D. Now, I may as well confess upfront that I am not expert at acrostics. So, if in places, I have borrowed that Greek bandit Procustes' idea of cutting the foot to fit the bed, my apologies! Anyway, here goes:

S- Snake like Thames- Only when one has this bird's eye view of the Thames, one can see the twists and turns it makes as it winds its way through the city. In fact, trivia has it that the word 'Charing' in 'Charing Cross' comes from an old English word "cierring" which means bend. The Thames as one can see, bends almost at 90 degrees at that point.

H- Hays Wharf- On the way to the Shard, there is the Hays Galleria, comprising an array of restaurants, shops and the like. I have passed it many times before, but today on the way to the Shard, I come out of the exit wherein I see a signboard that tells me that it was here around 1860 that the concept of cold storage was pioneered. Since products like butter, cheese and meat had to be stored as they were off loaded here by the merchant vessels, very quickly it came to be known as 'London's larder'.

Hay's wharf
The first cold storage


Interesting to note that in the Middle Ages this was actually a post of office in large households where the larderer would be the man in charge of the larder. In Scotland, the larder was called the spence and the man in charge- the spencer. Thus is the origin of the English surname 'Spencer'.

A- Arqiva Tower- Whilst the Shard is the tallest building in Europe, did you know that it is actually the SECOND tallest free standing structure in the UK. What? How did we miss a building taller than that! I hear you ask. It is the Emley Moor transmitting station in the remote moors of West Yorkshire, officially known as the Arqiva Tower.

Emley Moor transmitting tower
Quietly standing tall even before the Shard


Incidentally, having driven past the village of Emley long before the Shard was built; I have a picture of that which I attach here. With its height of 1084 feet, it is taller than the Shard by 70 feet and operational since 1956!

R- Riverbus- The riverbus service to London Bridge is probably the more exciting way to reach the Shard. I took the Thames Clippers (they accept oyster cards) and they were a sheer delight. A lovely and 'not too heavy-on-pocket' kind of idea, especially if you want to do something fun with children.

D- Dare I say it; the Shard website tells me that over this half-term, two kids (aged 4-15 years) can go free provided there is one paying adult accompanying them. Whilst one adult ticket is 25 it still is a great way to spend one of the days over half-term (considering outdoor activities might not be much of an option in the inclement weather of Oct) and as the website says - the ultimate place to play a game of 'I spy'.

Atop the Shard
More than a bird's eye view !

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Why? Kids go free to the Shard over Half-term
When: 27 Oct 2014 - 02 Nov 2014
Phone: 0344 499 7222
Where: Near London Bridge
Cost: 25 per adult
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