Wednesday, October 12, 2005

HOW LONDON WAS BUILT: How London Was Built - Part 3

Defence and Development - Skyscrapers and Fortifications: In this programme historian and TV presenter Adam Hart Davis looks at London's tallest buildings and the city's defences.
From the Tower of London to the Old Bailey and on to the Natwest Tower, the capital's skyline has constantly remained in a state of ground-breaking transition. However, until the 1960s a local bylaw banned construction over 65 feet high as the fire brigades ladders could only reach that far. There were exceptions of course - most notably St Paul's Cathedral and its incredible dome that spans 365 feet - one foot for everyday of the year.
Other notable exceptions to the 65 foot rule include the OXO Tower whose owners' bent planning regulations about advertising to include the name of the firm in the very fabric of the building. Post 1960s classic skyscrapers would include the mysteriously empty Centre Point, the allegedly 'nuclear blast proof' Post Office Tower and more recent designs like the Swiss Re building, otherwise known as the 'erotic gherkin'.
The historian also examines London's defences through the ages. From the hi-tech Norman defence system of the Tower of London to the soon to be overcome Thames barrier this episode looks at all the structures that have been built to keep Londoners safe over the centuries.
Other featured structures will include the Cabinet War Rooms, underground nuclear fall out shelter below Tottenham Court Road and Bazalgette's famous 82 miles of sewage superhighway that transformed both the health of Londoners and the north bank of the Thames.


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