The Shard is the latest addition to the London skyline, the tallest building by far.
You can go to the top now – 72 floors at the max. Costs you £25, which is a bit steep, but it’s worth it. The views of London are immense.
I went there with my good friends Jon, Dave and Tony on a day off on Friday, 15 March. We watched the Cheltenham races in the afternoon, but in the morning had an excellent breakfast at Roast in Borough Market and then went on to the Shard. Built with Qatari money, meant to be part office, part hotel, and part swish apartments (suitable for the resource-rich oligarch). Still a way to go in securing the inhabitants, but the viewing facility now established.
You take two lifts to the top. The first, to floor 36, gets you there in an amazingly quick time. Someone said six floors per second. Not sure it was quite that, but it was extraordinary. How do any wires pull you up that quickly? Then it was up to floor 68. That was the first viewing gallery, indoors. And then you could walk up to floor 72, which was outdoors, but still had a glass frontage, so the only difference to 68 was the breeze. Cold in this wintry march we are experiencing.
When you get to the top – 68 or 72 doesn’t really matter – it’s one of those moments when you feel a childlike sense of awe and fun. Where’s the London Eye? Can you see the Olympic Stadium? Oh, there’s the Millennium Bridge. Is that Wembley in the cloudy distance?
All London is before you.
Here are some photos. Shot through the windows, so a bit opaque, with some reflections too. But you’ll get the sense.
London. My City.
The Shard. A fantastic addition.
John, thanks for your blog, and a great record of a brilliant day. I knew I was safe leaving the photographs to you.
As you say, however old and jaded we may be (and we looked very old and jaded in that group photo), an experience like that really makes you see London through fresh eyes. And even on the cloudy day that we had, what an amazing perspective….
I still find the Shard strangely cold and almost alienating – I’m staring at it right now through my office window, and I don’t like the way it’s looking at me – but I think that the viewing gallery will become a big hit. It gives us sights we’ve never had before, and in some cases we could scarcely have imagined; and it shows the miracles, and nightmares, of urban planning more clearly than ever. How can the City be that congested? How can they make such an ugly building this century? What were they thinking in the seventies? And above all, how can West Ham possibly occupy that glorious, iconic venue?
Anyway, the first of many trips. Back up there in early May with my cousin, in fact….
Thanks Sky! (Is that a Martin Amis character?). Maybe we will never love the Shard, but it allows us to see the rest of London in a new way. As for the Irons in the Olympic stadium, who else could it be? Tottenham? Chelsea? Least worst option then?
Wow! It looks amazing. Thanks for the pics!
It was awesome!
John, Good to see you writing about my old scheme. Transfer floor is 33 and the first pair of lifts are double-decker lifts – the second pair do travel at 6.0m per sec, about 1.5 floors per second – all round the trip should be about 56seconds. Not bad!! Lifts are Finnish – Kone. With 46 lifts across the building(from memory).
Hey Shane, sure you are right about 33! You were in there so you can be proud – it’s brilliant. And I’m in awe at those lifts. And the views.
nice blog john- notably no snaps of the south east perspective… which is admittedly pretty grim. we must try it again on a sunny day and when the bars are open in the shard. great day and excellent record thanks.
Yes, Sarf London doesn’t have quite so many sights though I’m sure it’s a fine place. Just not my patch and none of the major buildings – at least those viewable from the Shard.
Oops! fumbling fingers comment above!
I know this is an old post but I just came across it. I used to work in the Shard so I’ve seen the view dozens of times and I would have to say that sunset provides by far the best view. Sounds obvious, but the difference between day and dusk is stark. The offer day and night tickets now so you can go back twice in one day. Great post, but the pictures don’t do it justice.
Thanks for the comment. Pics have to be shot through windows and obviously depend on conditions when you are there. It is a magnificent building, no doubt at all.