A new year’s day demands a new year’s walk. This took me along the newly built Cheapside past One New Change and on to the Bank of England and Leadenhall Market (pictured above). I was on the look out for changes in the public realm rather than than new buildings so, although One New Change has revolutionised Cheapside and brought Banana Republic and Top Shop to the oldest market street in London, the bigger story was a greatly widened pavement and half a dozen new trees. The street will eventually be tree-lined but for the moment there is a small commitment to the national tree planting campaign although I expect that these were planned a long time before the new government decided to be a little greener than the last.
The path next goes alongside the Royal Exchange building. This is now luxury clothing and coffee shops. It is difficult to see in which way this is public. There is a municipal square at the front and a rather fine water pump to the side. The statue of American banker and housing philanthropists George Peabody dominates the space behind the Royal Exchange, a reminder of a time when bankers chose to be philanthropic.
Leadenhall Market is a curious place, at first site an ancient City market with space to hang pheasant and sell groceries, now as much a commercial shopping centre as One New Change, Pizza Express nestles between the City of London Corporation insignia. This temple to well managed produce now another home to franchised pizza.
A quick turn past the Lloyds Building and the site of both the ‘Pinnacle’ and the ‘Grater’ both of which are now on site again, and the forecourt of Foster’s building by the Tower of London, a rather dismal landscape and a home to a Gourmet Burger restaurant. This leads to the strangely named Tower of London Environs, a large and windswept expanse of granite linking the ticket offices to the Tower of London.