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Strand (Aldwych)

Closed in 1994, when the lifts became uneconomic to fix, this station first opened in 1907. It was soon renamed Aldywich as Charing Cross was then also known as Strand. Very popular with film-makers, it has featured in Patriot Games and the All Saints’ Honest, as well as various pop videos.

Surrey Street/Strand WC2

The ‘Roman’ Bath

This lane, down a flight of steps just off Surrey Street, is said to be where Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder plotters met. The bath was once used by Charles Dickens. There’s also the watch house to look out for grave robbers in St Clement Danes church yard. The water comes from St Clement’s holy well.

Strand Lane WC2

This end of the Strand is full of interesting nuggets, some amazing buildings - including the world’s most expensive one, when it was built - and an assorted collection of sculpture around St Clement Dane’s church, linked to its RAF history.

Tube: Temple

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.

Aldwych/Strand

Lord Dowding

Leader of Fighter Command, Dowding introduced modern tactics and aircraft such as the Spitfire to the RAF. Due to retire in 1939, he stayed on until 1940 to fight the Battle of Britain. A vegetarian and believer in ghosts and fairies, he was also a champion slalom skier. Both these RAF statues are by Faith Winter, dating to 1998.

Strand WC2

Sir Arthur Harris

Responsible for the bombing raids that infamously destroyed Dresden, ‘Bomber’ Harris was a fighter pilot during WWI. Taking charge of Bomber Command in 1942, he applied lessons learned from Nazi Germany’s  tactics: ‘They sowed the wind,’ he said, ‘and now they are going to reap the whirlwind.’ 

Strand WC2

Australia House

The longest continuously occupied foreign mission in London, Australia House was delayed by WWI, taking from 1913 to 1918 to build. The bronze on the roof - Phoebus Driving the Horses of the Sun - is by Bertram Mackennal. The stone sculptures - Awakening of Australia and Prosperity of Australia - are by Harold Parker.

Strand WC2

Bush House

The most expensive building in the world when it opened in 1929, having cost £2m ($10m), the sculptures here are notably good. Although long linked to the BBC, it was built as a world trade centre for US businessman Irving T Bush by US architect Harvey W Corbett. It had the first self service cafeteria in London.

Aldwych WC2

St Clement Dane Church

The Central Church of the Royal Air Force was rebuilt by the RAF in 1958 after the Wren original of 1682 was badly damaged during WWII. The steeple of 1720 by James Gibbs survived. The first church here was built by Danes in the C9th, who named it after their patron saint of seafarers.

Strand WC2
www.raf.mod.uk/stclementdanes

William Gladstone

Liberal Party statesman and prime minister four times, Gladstone (1809-1898) was cited by Churchill as Britain’s greatest prime minister. This impressive statue of 1905 is by Sir William ‘Hamo’ Thorneycroft and shows him surrounded with the figures of Education, Brotherhood, Aspiration and Courage.

Strand WC2

Hodge The Cat

A slight walk away from Strand, but worth a mention here is Johnson’s ‘very fine cat indeed’. Sitting on a volume of the great doctor’s Dictionary, with his favourite snack, an oyster, Hodge looks at his old home. Gough Square still boasts three old gas lamps, as well, of course, as Johnson’s house.

Gough Square EC4

Samuel Johnson

England’s most famous writer of the 18th century -and creator of the first English dictionary - looks very cuddly and amusing company in this statue, hidden behind St Clement Dane's church. Outside his tiny house, also hidden away nearby in Gough Square, is a statue of his cat, Hodge (right).

Strand WC2

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