Two years ago I cycled around London on Christmas morning taking photos of a city that was, thanks to the lack of public transport and everything being closed – was itself totally deserted of people.
I was somewhat surprised at how popular the photos were, as they were taken as a long-planned, but mere idle curiosity. Quite a pleasant surprise.
Those original photos can be found here.
Last time I failed to get the key photo I had wanted, of an empty Westminster Bridge – the inspiration from 28 Days Later – so I just had to get back and do it all over again!
This year there seemed to be rather more people around than last time – and rather a lot of photographers (glare!). The Boris Bikes were also filling the transport gap left by the tube and bus closures, so I didn’t quite get *that scene* as I had wanted, but it was still fun to cycle around an almost deserted city again.
Naturally, you can’t be in the area without getting photos of Whitehall. It seems that the warning road sign actually makes the desolation of the road seem even more sudden and apocalyptic.
Another classic location from 28 Days Later – just minus a guy in hospital gown, and as I realised when I got home, I pointed the wrong direction. Oh well – gives me an excuse to try again next year!
Just around the corner is the usually very busy St James Street leading up towards Picadilly.
Up to Regents Street, and here is iconic London department store, Liberty.
Oxford Street was deserted as expected. As last time, it wasn’t so much the desolation that makes the experience of cycling around so memorable, but the eerie silence in a city that is usually so noisy.
The roads around Hyde Park, normally a main corridor in to London were equally empty.
By the time I got to Buckingham Palace though, there were by now some tourists around the place trying to find something to do on the quietest day of the year.
Wandering around – past the usually packed Embankment and heading over to Covent Garden.
By now, the streets were starting to fill up again, so it was a diversion over to the Charles Dickens Museum which was having a special Christmas opening, and then to home. In total, about 8 hours of walking into London, cycling around on a Boris Bike, and walking home again.
More photos from 2010 can be found here.
The original photos from 2008 can be found here.
It is quite an addictive sensation – seeing the city in such a strange light and atmosphere and despite the hassles of getting up early and getting into town, it is entirely worth the effort.
I had a few Twitter messages as I went around, including several from people asking if coffee shops were open as they didn’t want to come into the centre if they weren’t. Umm, no they weren’t – that was the point of a desolate city.
It is claimed that the cockroach will be the only creature to survive a Nuclear holocaust. If London is lain waste, people expect Starbucks to still be open. You can make your own inference from that!
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