Waterloo Sunset

25 June 2012
Ben Pentreath

It was a beautiful evening in London last night. The light was amazing (and it is a beautiful morning as well).

I felt the need to get out and enjoy the late afternoon sunshine. I popped up to St. Paul’s on my bike. ¬†Partly, it is true, because for ages I’ve been wanting to take a closer look at some of the carved stone work. We’re doing a project in Oxfordshire where I am hoping to design some new stone urns, in collaboration with a young carver, Thomas Merrett, and I wanted to have a good look at the original carved fruit and vegetables here, which are of course superb.

The building glowed, extraordinary as it rises like a great Portland stone ship over the surrounding streets as you approach. There were a few late tourists on the steps, but the loggia was deserted and shone with an almost Italian light.

I think one of my favourite parts of St. Paul’s is the base of the giant drum; with its plain stone wall and tiny punched openings. You could be in Rome.

Walking on down to the river, can I confess: I really like the Shard, the crazy new skyscraper that dominates – but which does not overwhelm – the London skyline. What they said on the tin really does work: by angling the walls as they are, the building does reflect the colour of the sky at all times. Will it still be there in 300 years? I suspect not. Although one feels that St. Paul’s probably will…

The evening was so beautiful that I decided not to head straight home but popped down to the river at Waterloo Bridge; my favourite view in the city.

The courtyard of Somerset House was cool and grey.

The Victoria Tower and Big Ben glowed in the sunshine.

And a Waterloo Sunset, courtesy of Ray Davies and the Kinks. I can’t say how many times I’ve listened to this song.

Dirty old river, must you keep rolling
Flowing into the night
People so busy, makes me feel dizzy
Taxi light shines so bright
But I don’t need no friends
As long as I gaze on waterloo sunset
I am in paradise

9 comments on this post

It is amazing how we sometimes don’t realize how beautiful these buildings are even though we see them almost every day


Think you have a future as a photographer if you ever feel like a career change – superb.

Beautiful photographs – the light was lovely yesterday evening, thank you for reminding us what a fabulous city we live in.


lovely pictures. i love st pauls and ludgate hill.

i worked at king’s college in the strand and was always just smitten with the late day light over london. then i moved to the vale of glamorgan and loved that watery light even more!

I’m so grateful for your photos. When you’re stuck in Brooklyn on a day of thunder storms they really help brighten the mood. Your posts are quite the treat for me and many of my friends over here on the other side of the pond.

gorgeous photos. makes me wish i could wander on down to somerset house this morning.

Gorgeous photos of the wonderful stonework on St. Paul’s.
Sometimes it is good to remind ourselves of the rich heritage that we enjoy in London and also across the country generally. Your pictures are a true celebration.
I like the Shard too, and have my name down on the list to be notified and given the opportunity to book a visit when it opens.

Oh, what lovely photos! Thank you so much for showing them!
At once when I read the head line the song started playing on my mental record player. There’s another song which makes me see so many pictures in my head, when I hear it, as that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.