Abandoned London: Discover the hidden secrets of the city in photographs – Katie Wignall

My love story with abandoned places dates back to, uh, the early ‘00. 

Today? Welp, today it’s easy: just hop on Instagram, hashtag urbex and hey, you’re set. The world at your fingertips. Those days instead, when the internet was young and full of hic sunt leones, if I didn’t feel like trespassing exploring disused factories myself, I had to browse through endless webrings or Lj comms to see something new. Fellow enthusiasts used to tour derelict buildings, documenting their findings on cameras.

Abandoned London is all that and more. I don’t know if Katie Wignall shares my same habits, but her book is an ode to (London-based) urban explorers. 

**

With 150 outstanding color photographs, Abandoned London presents a poignant pictorial exploration of the English capital—from forgotten railways lines and underpasses to lost industrial places, movie theaters, churches, and cemeteries.  
 
London is both a bright, modern city with soaring skyscrapers as well as a metropolis hundreds of years old—and, despite its gleaming surface, there is another side to the city, one of secrets, dilapidation, and mystery. Wander through disused stations on the Underground; immense, ornate Victorian sewers and waterworks; crumbling but beautiful Art Deco cinemas and empty swimming pools; bombed-out churches and eerie docklands; and ruined mansions and overgrown cemeteries, all haunting relics from a time gone by. Arranged thematically from transport and industry to residential and recreational, these entries cover both the modern city and the historical metropolis.

224 pages
Photography
Amber Books Ltd.
Goodreads

**

Cover: Hm. I’ll be honest, I’m not wild about it. There are better pictures in the book – the ferry on the back cover, for example.

Yay!

  • What an incredible selection of places! It’s a real feast for aficionados like me 😀 I found old friends and met new ones – yes, I’m aware I’m talking about buildings in various states of disrepair, haha. It just makes me happy to see a book dedicated to such things, and a good one to boot.
  • As always, I appreciate the organization. AL is divided in 5 sections, each of them exploring a different side of London. There’s variety too: Victorian buildings go hand in hand with modern ones, old billboards or street art adorning them. Every picture depicts a slice of a life long gone, evoking a sense of nostalgia that may border into foreboding.
  • Great, great pictures. It’s not easy to capture the beauty hidden within ruins, it takes a lot of talent. Boarded up, filled with trash and debris, fenced in – the essence of those buildings is not in plain view, you have to look for it.
  • The blurbs are informative, offering tidbits of knowledge without stealing the spotlight. AL is a photography book first and foremost.

Special mention:

  • Lowell’s Wharf, Greenwich. The woven pattern decorating the steps is amazing.
  • Millennium Mills, Silvertown. Spiral slides.
  • Down Street Station, Mayfair. Those oxblood glazed tiles remind me of a King’s short story. No reason. *cough*
  • Woolwich Jetty. There’s nothing more decadent than a derelict pier.
  • South Kensington Post Office. What a great shot, the lettering half hidden by– I don’t know, actually. Paint? Water stains? 
  • Pleasure Gardens, Silvertown. The wrought iron of the gate is a work of beauty.

Nay!

  • The cover. It just doesn’t catch the eye. 

TL;DR

5 stars on GR. Katie, you did an awesome job here!

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