A Tour of the Squares of London, 27th January 2001

Parliament Square
Parliament Square, 3:55 PM
Cabot Square
Cabot Square, 4:25 PM
Canada Square
Canada Square, 4:30 PM

In front of the Houses of Parliament is the appropriately named Parliament Square (TQ 301 796). The clock-tower (often mistakenly called Big Ben, a name which in fact refers to the bell within) is an imposing presence across a square which largely serves to provide tourist photographers a good location. The Thames is directly behind Parliament, and the proximity of Westminster Bridge contributes to a constant queue of traffic alongside the square. Back at Westminster station, just after I heard 4.00 chime in the tower above me, I took the Jubilee Line to Canary Wharf.

Night comes early in January, and there was little light left when I reached my final two squares, in Docklands. Cabot Square (TQ 373 803) represents the modern face of corporate London. It sits before, and surrounded by, the new office buildings of this regenerated area of the capital. It is an attractive square, with small fountains, lit up at night. My first impression was that it was kind of soulless. The stark lines of the buildings around, and the features of the square, planned down to the last detail, deprived it of some of the feeling of life of many of the old squares within the boundaries of the Circle Line. I am not so sure now; I think it has a presence of a different kind, and the central raised and partially enclosed section provides a calm but formal break from the high-rises towering above. Here's another image of the square.

Number 1, Canada Square, is an address maybe not known to all Londoners - but they doubtlessly know the building at that address, the tower popularly known simply as 'Canary Wharf'. Canada Square (TQ 375 803) itself is a pleasant expanse of grass, with a bizarre saucer-shaped thing in the middle. When I was there, building works were in progress either side of the square on the pair of towers which were to be the new addition to the docklands skyline. I jumped on the tube again at Canary Wharf underground station, a grand and fascinating example of modern architecture, and a key new stop on the recent extension to the Jubilee Line which takes the line out from Westminster east to Docklands and beyond. By the time I left the underground, night had fallen completely.

Further Links

Timeout guide and listings magazine.
Going Underground

Text and Images Copyright © 2001-2002 David R Edgar