Why I love... Derelict London
In this week's Why I Love, Zone's Rory McClenaghan tells us how Derelict London has guided him round parts of the city he never knew existed...
A five-minute walk away from Zone Towers lies the building that started my love affair with Derelict London. Along a largely characterless stretch of Hampstead Road looms the National Temperance Hospital. A strange confection of balconies, spires and arches – a bit bizarre, a bit scary and completely abandoned – the building intrigued me.
Set up by teetotallers to cure hardened alcoholics in 1873, it closed its doors in 1990 and they haven’t opened since. While I now know its true identity, it was as I was scrabbling around to find out what the deuce it was that I made another, even greater, discovery: Paul Talling’s excellent Derelict London website.
Paul is a man who likes to wander around London with a camera. When he sees an interesting derelict building that’s gone to seed – be it a classical former orphanage, a boarded-up old pub or an abandoned sports ground – he takes a picture, or five. As he stresses, he’s not a professional photographer, just an enthusiast.
He’s no great shakes when it comes to web design either, but it’s the buildings that are the star attraction here, and the stories. There’s a passion for the city and all of its everyday mysteries that permeates the entire enterprise. A large proportion of the derelict buildings in London seem to be pubs, and it’s in the section devoted to boozers that I can get lost for a good few hours.
Without this site I wouldn’t know that the Rose & Crown in Tottenham closed because the landlord came to a grizzly end, or that the George & Dragon in Vauxhall was London’s only pub with a swimming pool. Could I live without this information? Yes, but why would I want to?