The Time is Nigh

Just over a year ago in a Barbicania article entitled Mortality and Succession (those with internet access can read this by entering the following link into their web browser - https://wp.me/p4Ev7N-Ww ) I broached the inevitability of my handing over Barbican Life to a new editor. This after 15 years from my devising, designing and producing the magazine and the editing of every single issue through thick and thin. Over that period of time I have managed to get this quarterly magazine out, always on time, around a quadruple heart bypass operation, two strokes – the second of which kept me … [Read more...]

Well Connected

Well Connected: One very specific attribute of living on the Barbican Estate is that it has to be already one of the best connected residential complexes in the country with respect to transport links.  It has both east-west and north-south underground lines at Moorgate, not to forget the Great Northern commuter lines out of the same station; the Liverpool Street rail terminus only a short walk away giving access to the east of the country, Bank and the Docklands Light Railway and the Waterloo and City line, with its direct connection to Waterloo serving the south and the southwest, while … [Read more...]

Encroachment and Solidarity

What gets the residents of the Barbican up in arms – or perhaps those of any other similar urban village?  In one word – Encroachment.  In the Barbican it is the constant sense of being in some kind of fishbowl as new office, and residential construction is built around us, sometimes interfering with long established pedestrian and road accesses, and occasionally with an adverse impact on light!  But when the proposed change is actually within the complex, hackles rise, perhaps disproportionately. The latest such bête noire for Barbican residents is the proposal by the City of London School … [Read more...]

Coming of Age

The Barbican Estate was primarily constructed between 1965 and 1976 and most of us owner-occupiers have leases which have between 85 and 90 years to run before the properties are reclaimed by the freeholder, in nearly all cases the City of London.  While that timescale is presumably more than adequate to see most of us out, the shorter the lease life remaining, the more difficult a property becomes to sell, and the lower the price it is likely to command.  Generally 80 years on one’s lease is the tipping point at which values tend to start to decline sharply, or the freeholder can be entitled … [Read more...]

The Culture Mile, Beech Street and the RSC

Went to see the Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Tempest – a quite remarkable staging.  The special effects were awe inspiring and was pleased to hear a week or two earlier that the RSC was being involved in the talks revolving around the Culture Mile – the latest reworking in the development of what was previously known as the Cultural Hub.  If the talks are successful in bringing the RSC back to making the Barbican its principal London venue – to the theatre which was built for it - that will be another great feather in the Culture Mile’s cap.  There is already seemingly a strong rapport … [Read more...]

Mortality and Succession

A lengthy spell in hospital does tend to focus one’s mind and emphasises one’s mortality.  Certainly an eight week stint following a stroke has caused your editor to consider his future involvement with this magazine – or at least to start putting in place some kind of succession plan.  You may have noted an advertisement to this effect in the Barbican Association’s quarterly newsletter As background, I set up Barbican Life over 14 years ago and although. I passed the publication over to the Barbican Association in exchange for the latter handling distribution and accounting, while … [Read more...]

47 Years On

It can be quite humbling attending a memorial service in St Giles Church, particularly for someone who had such a remarkable life as late Barbican resident Douglas Woodward who died late last year at the ripe old age of 92, but still in possession, even in such advanced years, of an extremely strong intellect.  Readers of Barbican life will have been aware of Douglas who graced these pages on a number of occasions.  The most recent was with a somewhat controversial guest editorial article in last year’s Summer issue entitled ‘Rattle’s Folly’.  Douglas opposed the construction of the proposed … [Read more...]

Uncertain New Year Ahead

Now is the time of year to wish Barbican Life readers a Happy Christmas – or perhaps just a happy holiday season dependent on one’s religion – and a prosperous New Year ahead, but seldom have we seen a time when the forthcoming year has been riddled with so many uncertainties because of factors which surfaced in 2016. First there was the Brexit vote and, in the UK in particular, all the political and financial fallout which will continue to afflict us next year – and indeed probably for several years ahead.  The consequent fall in the value of the pound sterling is not only going to … [Read more...]

Health and Efficiency

Perhaps it takes a medical emergency to get to realise how good our local National Health Service hospitals and ambulance service can actually perform if needed.  Well perhaps not necessarily a major emergency, but certainly one sufficient to require an ambulance to deliver one to the nearest hospital with an appropriate A&E department. Your editor recently had such an emergency – a personally frightening experience when on waking found he had no muscle function at all in his left leg – the result of a minor stroke.  Luckily the lady who does some cleaning for me was in that morning … [Read more...]

Rattle’s Folly

The celebrated conductor, Simon Rattle, comes next year to the Barbican in the footsteps of much-loved Colin Davis and highly-regarded Valery Gergiev, to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra.  Sadly his pleasure will not be unalloyed since, it would appear that he feels that the Barbican Hall – not least its acoustics – leaves much to be desired. Now, in regard to acoustics, Simon is doubtless a perfectionist.  Most of us, though, would agree with the music critic of the Daily Telegraph who wrote that we do not go to concerts to listen to acoustics, but to enjoy the music. Acoustics … [Read more...]