“During my 30 year police career I got to know London very well. I am a qualified London guide who is passionate about my city.” Grant Lander
London is a multi-faceted city, steeped in history and filled with centuries of stories. When planning to see this busy metropolis, you probably think of an open top bus or a river cruise ticking off sights such as Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and Big Ben to name but a few. Once you have seen all the famous landmarks and fancy seeing another side of London, look no further than a walking tour with former Metropolitan police officer Grant Lander from London Walks & All.
History buff Lander set up his tour company following his retirement from the force, a thirty year career that spanned several London borough’s including a stint as a detective in New Scotland Yard’s murder squad. A London Walks & All tour offers you something different from those cliched touristy affairs with Lander showing you another side of the city on foot. Whether you are looking for a WWII inspired tour, following in the footsteps of Churchill, a music tour centred around The Beatles or Queen or perhaps a historic pub tour. Private and bespoke tours are also available – click HERE to see the tour options.
We opted for the Old and New London tour that started in Nine Elms near Vauxhall station and finished in Westminster. We saw the stunning design of the new American Embassy located in Embassy Gardens, some American inspired street art as well as the nearby new Covent Garden market and flower market. The mammoth redevelopment project at Battersea Power Station is impressive, the redesign of the old power station and surrounding area will see the addition of its own tube station as well as multi purpose spaces, swanky apartments, restaurants, bars, shops and a hotel.
The power station’s four iconic chimneys, that powered London for decades and were used as landmarks by both the RAF and the German Luftwaffe pilots in WWII, have been carefully dismantled and fully rebuilt. The adjoining Grade II listed Coaling Jetty has been repurposed as an outdoor entertainment deck with live music, deckchairs and wooden dining/bar kiosks.
We travelled across the river on the Thames Clipper and explored Old Westminster (one of Lander’s former beats). We walked past the Tate Britain, saw the Edward Lutyen designed buildings, spotted blue plagues depicting famous politicians, stars of stage and screen and historians in the Georgian streets near parliament and learnt how Churchill’s son Randolph married at St John’s Church that’s also known as Queen Anne’s Footstool. We finished outside the Houses of Parliament where extensive renovation work is underway including the restoration of Big Ben.
Even the pubs had historical back stories. First stop was at the Morpeth Arms in the well-to-do Millbank area, a popular pub that was built in 1845 under the reign of Queen Victoria. The hostelry was the local for the warders from Millbank Penitentiary and later the cells that run under the pub were a holding place for convicts awaiting deportation to Australia. Legend has it that these now abandoned cells are haunted by the ghosts of those prisoners that died in captivity.
Our final stop was at the Marquis of Granby in Romney Street, Westminster. This traditional pub is named after the 18th century war hero who financially rewarded officers who in turn set up public houses in his honour. Like many other establishments in the area, the pub is home to a parliamentary division bell that recalls Members of Parliament (MP’s) to a vote. Once the bell is rung MP’s have just 8 minutes to hot foot it back to the chambers in the palace of Westminter to cast their aye or nay vote, any latecomers are barred from entry and unable to vote.
If you are looking for a fun and interesting walking tour of London, check out London Walks & All. Lander is friendly, knowledgeable and his tours are full of interesting facts and anecdotes. He took us to hidden gems, places we have all previously passed but never really visited. It’s not just for tourists either, those who live and work in London would get just as much enjoyment out of a tour as those just visiting.
London Walks and All
Contact: Grant Lander
Telephone: 07988 876404
The views in this post are all my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated all photos © Jo Brett 2019. All rights reserved.