Bunhill Quaker Gardens

Charting the redevelopment of the Quaker Gardens between Banner Street and Chequer Street, London, in 02005.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

End of week three

More gravel has been spread over the ball court, and you can just about make out the borders that have been put in the surface excavations on the playground.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Goodbye, Jack Frost, for another year

One of the compensations of winter in Bunhill is the availability of Fuller's Jack Frost in the Artillery Arms, on the corner of Bunhill Row and Dufferin Street (more or less between the Quaker burial ground and the 'non-conformist' burial ground on the opposite side of Bunhill Row). At its best, Jack Frost is very special beer. I haven't enjoyed a pint so much since I was an under-age drinker.

Given the snow this morning, it was an unwelcome surprise to find that Fullers have decreed that winter is over, and Jack Frost has been withdrawn until the nights close in again. I was offered, and accepted, a pint of the dubiously-named Jennings Ale instead.

The Artillery Arms is a treasure for more than just its beers. It's a small traditional pub that would be hard to convert to anything else. Reassuringly, after it was closed for refurbishment for two months last summer, you could barely tell the difference. Clearly it makes its living from the City office spillover that crowds the bar at lunchtimes and early evenings, with loud voices and louder ties. But it comes into its own when it starts to empty out and you can appreciate two of its special features. One is its wide selection of bar games from jenga to chess (using glass pieces that are rather hard to distinguish in gloomy bar light). The other is a determinedly fogey-ish music policy. Bob Dylan and Neil Young are the perennial staples, and this evening the selections were drawn alternately from Dylan's Bringing it all Back Home, Young's Harvest Moon, and, as 'guest artist', Nick Cave and his sublime Boatman's Call album.

Lucy had a scare today, but — touch wood — all is OK.

Snow returns, for a moment

Snow returns, for a moment
Originally uploaded by davidjennings.
Though we woke to snow — which shows the recent surface digging on the playground in good relief — it once again disappeared within hours.

Gravel was spread by the Chequer Street site entrance (just out of shot, bottom right), and then the portacabin was relocated once more to sit on the gravel.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Watching concrete set

Concrete setting in the ball court trench
Watching concrete set
Originally uploaded by davidjennings.
The last bit of the trench was filled in with concrete today, and you can see the wire mesh that I presume marks where the fence round the court will be. This view is from Chequer Street, with the Meeting House in the mid-distance at the top of the picture.

More scraping and digging of the playground surfaces today, with attendant shudders going right through the building. I don't like them.

But it was dry and sunny, if still very cold, today.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Filling in the ball court trench

A grim day to be on site, with persistent drizzle spliced with sleet.

Here concrete is being dispensed on the street, scooped up in the digger and spread in the trench along the Chequer Street edge of the site.

In other developments (lower photo), the ever-flexible digger scraped the surface from the square that I think is designated for the climbing frame. Perhaps this is to make way for some of that all-weather webbing that they put on playgrounds?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Yellow jackets

Survey staff on site
Yellow jackets
Originally uploaded by davidjennings.
For the second day running, we've had a visit from the surveying staff with their theodolites and long tape measures. They draw more lines, stretch strings between pegs, and give directions. Yesterday there was a guy with an A2-size plan in a van marked Roadways and Car Parks Ltd, the name of the civil engineering contractors responsible for the site development. These two came in an unmarked car. Hmmm...

Monday, February 28, 2005

Work begins on the bluebell ridge

digger at bluebell ridge
Creating the bluebell ridge
Originally uploaded by davidjennings.
Today the focus of activity moved to the north east corner of the site, where you can see the digger spreading some soil in a circular arc on the other side of the plane tree. After distributing the soil from a pile, the digger gave it a series of strong 'backhand' thumps to pack it down. Again the floor shook.

I walked round at the end of the day — I'll add a close-up photo another time, when there's more light — to see what was going on. The arc is shown on my printed map as "bluebell ridge (springtime)". I wonder if they will plant the flowers in time for this spring?

In the bottom left of the picture you can see the memorial stone for George Fox, one of the founders of the Society of Friends.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Moon rising over the City of London

10.30 this evening, the moon comes over the roof of the Peabody Trust buildings on Dufferin Street.

Quaker Braithwaites

In the couple of minutes before this morning's Quaker Meeting began, I had a very quick skim through the book of Quaker Faith and Practice, and came across an entry by William Charles Braithwaite, the author of The Beginnings of Quakerism and The Second Period of Quakerism.

The tower block in the picture is Braithwaite House, at the east side of the burial ground now known as Quaker Gardens. I don't know whether it was named after W.C.Braithwaite, or — perhaps more likely — after J.B.Braithwaite Jnr, who started the Quaker adult school on the Bunhill site in the 1880s (see the history). Perhaps it was named after both: I suspect the two were brothers since this web page identifies W.C. As the son of J.B. and Martha Braithwaite of Banbury (very near where my parents live now).

If you can confirm any details on this, please click 'comments' below to let me and others know.