Large stones removed from the Victoria Embankment have been dotted around the City of London in a walking trail that’s also a long line of impromptu benches to sit on.
The stones were quarried for use in Joseph Bazalgette’s river wall at Victoria Embankment in the 19th century They have now been removed to enable the new Thames Tideway Tunnel and will be installed across the City on a temporary basis, before moving on to their next long-term use in a forthcoming urban realm project.
The project, known as From the Thames to Eternity aims to celebrate the role of stone in the City’s creation and stimulate discussion about reuse of materials and circular economy in the built environment.
The stones are in clusters running roughly north-south from Smithfield Market to just south of St Paul’s Cathedral, and if it wasn’t for the wooden markers, are almost impossible to spot, in a good way.
They look as if they’ve been there for years, as while they are obviously not purpose-built seating benches, they yet manage to look as if they are. As you get closer to the cathedral and busier streets, the stones are increasingly used for seating on with fewer people reading the wooden descriptions.
It’s a small walking trail of seven sites and only takes about 20 minutes to do in full, but kinda fun to follow and seek out the stone slabs.
The stones were gifted to the project by Westminster City Council, enabled by Tideway, prepared by CED Stone Group and installed on site by FM Conway.
Matthew Barnett Howland and Oliver Wilton from University College London, said: “These granite stones from the Thames River wall are remarkable pieces of natural history and cultural heritage. By storing and displaying them across the City of London, we want to highlight the long tradition of stone re-use in the City and to provoke discussion on the need to move to a more circular model in general.”
“As a city built on clay and gravel, London has no native stone and so it has always been a precious commodity, flowing into the capital for continuous use and re-use. The City of London is a vibrant example of the historical importance of this material, with rich and diverse stone architectures dating back to Roman times.”