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Top 5: Hidden Gems on The Strand
Image Credit: Al Richardson

Top 5: Hidden Gems on The Strand

15 September 2016 Stephanie Brandhuber

London Fashion Week is coming up in a few days which means the glitterati and fashionistas of our fair city will be out in full force at Somerset House on the Strand. Whether you’re in the area to see a fashion show, there simply to be seen, or you’re desperately trying to escape the blinding flashes of the paparazzi, why not take a walk around The Strand area and discover some of the neighborhood’s hidden gems - you certainly won’t be stranded for interesting things to see and do!

The Maughan Library
Confusing King’s College London’s students with its pronunciation since the university acquired the building in 2001, the Maughan Library is KCL’s main research library. Head down Chancery lane just off The Strand and you’ll find this beautiful 19th Century neo-Gothic building that was once the headquarters of the Public Record Office, known as the “strong-box of the Empire.” Designed by Sir James Pennethorne and constructed in 1851, the library is an architectural delight. Inside you can find a dodecagonal reading room inspired by that of the British Museum, and a former medieval chapel which is now used as an exhibition space for the library’s special collections.


Image Credit: Katy Ereira
 
The Maughan Library is located at 100-113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1LR.
 
10 Adam Street
Although it’s unlikely that anyone really wants to get too close to the Prime Minister’s lair, if having your picture taken at 10 Downing Street is on you bucket list (hello Instagram likes!) then you want to get further than the guarded gate. Adam Street is a small side street off The Strand where you can pose in front of number 10 and no one, except maybe Larry the cat, the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, will know that you’re photographing a fake. 10 Adam Street is almost completely identical to the Prime Minister’s home on Downing Street, and comes with the added bonus of being politician-free. So stroll down to Adam Street, strike a pose, and pull off a great prank picture.


 
Adam Street is located just off The Strand, WC2N.
 
The Sewer Lamp
Wander round the back of London’s swanky Savoy Hotel and you’ll find yourself on Carting Lane, also known as “Farting Lane”. The reason for the street’s bizarre nickname is the ingenious – if slightly nauseating – piece of Victorian engineering that’s located there: London’s last remaining sewage lamp. Inventor Joseph Webb created the Webb Patent Sewer Gas Lamp in the 19th Century in order to burn off the smells from London’s sewer system as well as to provide a low-cost way to keep London lit up all night. Methane was collected in a dome in the roof of the sewer and the gas was then diverted into the lamp on the street above. The lamp stayed glowing 24/7 thanks to the almost limitless supply of waste from the Savoy’s glamorous guests. Although a reversing lorry accidently bumped into the lamp a few years ago, knocking part of the top off, the lamp has been subsequently restored by engineers and is back to its gas glowing glory.


Image Credit: Betsy Weber
 
The Sewer Lamp is located on Carting Lane behind the Savoy Hotel, London WC2R.
 
Aldwych Tube Station
If you walk up The Strand from Somerset House towards Fleet Street, you’ll notice a boarded up, disused tube entrance that was once Aldwych tube station. Opened in 1907, this tube stop was once known as Strand tube station until it was renamed in 1915. However, in 1994 it was permanently shut as the costs involved in repairing the original lifts could not be justified since only a few hundred people were using the station each day. During WW2, the station provided shelter to Londoners during the Blitz and has also appeared in numerous movies and TV series including Superman IV, The Krays, Patriot Games, V for Vendetta, The Good Shepherd, Atonement, 28 Weeks Later, Mr Selfridge, Sherlock and many more.


 
The now disused Aldwych Tube Station is located at 171 Strand, London WC2R 1EP
 
“Roman Baths”
Just off the Strand on Surrey Street, you can find London’s only (supposedly) Roman Baths. It was widely believed by Victorian-era Londoners that this hidden-away bath had Roman origins, although today this dubious claim is widely debated. One thing is for sure, and that’s that these bath remains are at least Tudor. During the bath’s heyday in the 17th and 18th Centuries, it had a reputation for cleanliness due to the 10 tonnes of spring water that fed into it each day. By the early 19th Century, the water was being used solely for drinking. If this peculiar piece of London history has piqued your interest, you can see if for yourself. On Surrey Street, between Temple station and The Strand, you can just about see the baths by peeking into a murky window on the left-hand side of the street. They are also open to visitors every Wednesday afternoon between April and September, which can be arranged through the National Trust.


 
The Roman Baths are located at 5 Strand Lane, London WC2R 1AP, down a flight of steps leading off from Surrey Street.

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