Inventory Site Record

The Queen's Walk (Lambeth)

Brief Description

The Queen's Walk or Riverside Walk is part of the Thames riverside promenade and now runs from Blackfriars Bridge to south of Westminster Bridge, from where it extends southwards as Albert Embankment. An area of landscaping was initially laid out when County Hall was built and finished in 1917, but in 1949 the riverside walk was extended as a promenade for the 1951 Festival of Britain and retained as public open space when the Festival finished, opening in 1952.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Riverside Walk
Site location:
from Westminster to Gabriels Wharf, South Bank
Postcode:
SE1
What 3 Words:
saving.thing.bounty
Type of site:
Public Open Land
Borough:
Lambeth
Open to public?
Yes
Opening times:
unrestricted
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Events:
Public transport:
Rail/Tube: Waterloo (Northern, Waterloo and City, Jubilee, Bakerloo). Bus: 1, 4, 68, 76, 159
Research updated:
01/12/2007
Last minor changes:
14/07/2022

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.lambeth.gov.uk

Full Site Description

The Festival of Britain was conceived as a celebration and incentive to restoration following the end of WWII and it also marked the centenary of the Great Exhibition of 1851 held in Hyde Park (q.v.). The riverside area between Waterloo Bridge and County Hall became the site of the Festival, an area that had suffered much bomb damage. An embankment and walk were created to provide a high quality vehicle-free pedestrian streetscape, and architectural structures by Britain's leading architects and designers were built for entertainments and exhibitions, with the Royal Festival Hall its centrepiece and only permanent building. Along the Queen's Walk are remains of Festival of Britain railings with timber hand rails. In 1953 the LCC approved the master plan for developing the Festival site as a cultural and commercial centre, which became known as the South Bank.

The Queen's Walk forms a long pedestrian boulevard, lined in part by mature London plane trees, and along its route are replicas of George Vulliamy's decorative cast iron lamp standards of 1870, made for the Embankment. The LCC had a number cast in 1933 when County Hall was extended, and in 1964 a further 28 were cast and placed between County Hall and the South Bank. In the 1960s trees were planted on Queen's Walk as memorials to war dead. The promenade south of Westminster Bridge has good views of the Houses of Parliament and the Walk is screened from the adjacent St Thomas's Hospital by Portland stone wall. By the bridge, steps from the walkway provide a view of the roof garden of the hospital, designed by Yorke, Rosenberg, Mardall with a sculptural work, 'Revolving Torsion Fountain', 1972, by the renowned artist, Naum Gabo (1890-1977), who was a contemporary of Henry Moore.

This was the last of Gabo's fountain projects and originated in a work of 1929, which he first mooted for a fountain during his exhibition at the Tate Gallery in 1966, in discussions with Tate director Norman Reid. They began to explore a suitable public site and financial backing for the project. Alastair McAlpine, patron of the arts and head of the leading construction company, became interested and in 1971 agreed to pay for the construction, with Sir Max Rayne contributing Gabo's fee. Reid approached architect Eugene Rosenberg, also an art collector, to explore the potential for a site at St Thomas's Hospital, which Rosenberg was then rebuilding. The fountain structure was completed in 1973, manufactured by Matthew Hall Engineering Ltd, but was in storage until the hospital was completed. St Thomas's Hospital agreed to cover installation costs. The setting of the fountain on the plaza near the river was according to Gabo's instructions who desired the area to be open, with little planting around the lawn, and the fountain set in a circular pool. The fountain was unveiled by the Queen in November 1976 when the new hospital was officially opened.

North of Westminster Bridge Queen's Walk continues past the London Eye, erected in 2000, and flanks Jubilee Gardens (q.v.), opening to a broader area with London plane trees. Between Hungerford Bridge and Waterloo Bridge the riverside has been remodelled as part of improvements to the Royal Festival Hall. A circular stone sculpture by John Maine, 'Arena' (1983-88) was installed in the centre of the walkway near the Royal National Theatre, which was in built 1969-76 and has itself has undergone restoration works in the 1990s when the public square, Theatre Square, was created adjacent to Queen's Walk. Other sculptures nearby include 'London Pride' by Frank Dobson, a cast made from the original commission for the Festival of Britain, which was installed near the National Theatre in 1987. The Walk leads on to Bernie Spain Gardens, landscaped in the 1980s, past Gabriel's Wharf, with a viewing platform constructed over the river, this phase of Queen's Walk completed in the late 1980s. The final section between Bernie Spain Gardens and Blackfriars Bridge are within LB Southwark.

The Queen's Walk is on the circular Jubilee Walkway that was opened in 1977 for the Queen's Silver Jubilee and later re-launched in 2002 in celebration of her Golden Jubilee; a commemorative totem is found by Jubilee Gardens and Jubilee plaques are set into the pavement throughout the Walkway.

Sources consulted:

Ian Yarham, Michael Waite, Andrew Simpson, Niall Machin, 'Nature Conservation in Lambeth', Ecology Handbook 26 (London Ecology Unit), 1994; LB Lambeth 'South Bank Conservation Area Statement' 2007; Martin Hammer and Christina Lodder, 'Constructing Modernity - the Art and Career of Naum Gabo' (Yale University Press, 2000).

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ312805 (530993,180479)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Lambeth
Site management:
Friends of Jubilee Gardens
Date(s):
1917; 1949-52; 1983
Designer(s):
Listed structures:
LBI: Royal Festival Hall. LBII*: County Hall (Riverside Building); Royal National Theatre; Waterloo Bridge; Westminster Bridge. LBII: Albert Embankment riverwall and lamp standards, St Thomas' Hospital boundary wall, riverwall and lamp standards by County Hall
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

No
Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

No
Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

No

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
No
In Conservation Area:
Yes
Conservation Area name:
South Bank
Tree Preservation Order:
Yes
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Metropolitan Importance (Thames)
Green Belt:
No
Metropolitan Open Land:
Yes
Special Policy Area:
Yes - Thames Policy Area
Other LA designation:
None
Photos

The Queen's Walk

The Queen's Walk - Photo: Colin Wing
Date taken: 23/04/21 09:43

Click a photo to enlarge.

More photos

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