Andrew Saint

Andrew Saint is the general editor of the Survey of London; his most recent book is Architect and Engineer.

In the perpetual struggle between security and liberty, the city stands in the front line. From time immemorial people have found freedom in cities, yet urban coexistence can’t go on without countless checks and regulations. Lately these have been getting out of hand. All over the transport system disembodied voices boom out their futile admonitions; cameras track our every turning as...

A sodden afternoon in Sydenham. A trickle of sober pensioners converges on Jews Walk, overhung with wet branches. They turn into a deep, unkempt front garden, dip their umbrellas diffidently at the gate, divide into huddles, converse in undertones and wait. There is the air of an impending religious service. A hallowing, almost an expiation, is about to take place: the unveiling of a blue...

Diary: Foscolo’s Grave

Andrew Saint, 20 September 2007

Voguish these days for weddings, Chiswick’s Thames-side parish church has seen its share of august burials. So its large graveyard, a stone’s throw from the howl of the Great West Road, is just the place for a thoughtful stroll. Painters are prominent: Hogarth, De Loutherbourg and Whistler all have striking monuments. Less noticed is a granite table tomb cast into insignificance...

Just beyond Croydon – I will not share its exact whereabouts – there is a lane I take whenever I drive to visit my father in his retirement. For six precious minutes, it unfolds up and down hill through unspoilt Surrey countryside. There are just three houses along its length, one a farm. I seldom meet another car, but often see pheasants and once encountered a badger. On the way...

Diary: Goodbye to the Routemaster

Andrew Saint, 26 January 2006

It’s the noise I miss the most. The Kennington Road is a barren speedtrack. Buses can get up a good lick there, if passengers at request stops don’t flag them down. Even if your head was in the newspaper, you could tell a 159 was coming from the gurgling roar of the Routemaster’s engine, stick out a hand just in time and hear the machine change register, grind to a halt and...

It is usual for urban centres to contain extreme contrasts and not unusual for them to be scenes of conflict. What is striking about the West End is the peculiar compound of establishment and anti-establishment,...

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It is difficult to work out who gets the credit for a building – so many people are involved, from owners, contractors and governments to bricklayers and roofers – but it is...

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