New book reveals a glimpse of Unseen London

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All Londoners who join Peter Dazeley on his epic photographic journey of their great city will be surprised at the secrets which his book reveals.

Unseen London was launched at the historic Freemasons’ Hall, in Great Queen Street, last month. Their exotic Indian Temple, featured on the dust jacket of Dazeley’s book, was opened for us to visit. All copies of Unseen London available at the launch were sold.

This splendid tome, suitable for a (strong!) coffee table, is filled with superb photographs, which, together with a well written text by Mark Daly, tells the story of both iconic and unknown buildings in London. Some of these are still functioning today, others are being destroyed in the name of progress. The book reveals buildings whose very existence has always been a closely guarded secret and those now fallen into disuse, because of the obsolescence of some industries.

The interiors of the functioning Foreign and Commonwealth Office,10 Downing Street and the Old Bailey, among others, are splendidly photographed. Dazeley has included evocative shots of Battersea Power station undergoing change. The secret military bunker, codenamed ‘Paddock’, a well kept secret located at Dollis Hill, is now revealed. The Crossness Pumping Station, an engineering secret of Victorian London’s sewer system, is brilliantly photographed. Unbelievably, it is a riot of colour, with carved iron vine leaves, ivy and flowers. It is actually aesthetically pleasing. The photographs of the steam age mechanical levers to open Tower Bridge are interesting too. I particularly liked the image of old bells resting silently in the Whitechapel Bell Foundry courtyard. This is said to be the oldest industry in Britain. The image of the tuning forks are of a bygone age when bells were tuned by hammer and chisel.

A Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society,Dazeley is well known as a photographer and holds awards from the Association of Photographers.His work is invaluable because eventually only the photographic records of the heyday of these buildings,so finely crafted by British hands,will remain. Mark Daly, an accomplished writer whose text accompanies the photographs is fascinated by obscure and unknown parts of London, a city which he has explored in depth for many years.

Unseen London opens up a whole new city beneath its streets and buildings, a city of tunnels, of pumping stations, archaeological evidence and secret bunkers. Dazeley and Daly have glorified their subject matter and arranged their work in a pleasing manner. Readers from all walks of life will find surprising beauty in the strangest places and sense the past in derelict buildings. They will wonder if there are further unseen gems beneath the streets of London.

Unseen London

Photographs by Peter Dazeley

Text by Mark Daly

Published by Frances Lincoln

2nd October.2014. £30.00. Hardback.

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