The Peter Harrison Planetarium, Greenwich Park, London, SE10. Photo © Roger Dean 2011.
About London – J. Ewing Ritchie, 1860:
Woe is me! the present generation, – a generation most assuredly wise in its own eyes, can never know what I, and others verging on forty, – know the real luxury of an English fire after travelling all night as an outside passenger on the top, say, for instance, of the Royal London and Yarmouth mail. Pardon my emotion, but I must shut my eyes, and endeavour to recall the past. It is six o’clock on a night cold as that in which I now write; I am at the ancient hostelry, now gone to the dogs, known as the White Horse, Fetter Lane, on the top of the mail aforesaid.
The many-caped coachman, has clambered up into his seat; I sit by his side, perched somewhat like a mummy; outside and in we are full of passengers. The red-coated guard blows cheerily on the far-resounding horn. “Let them go,” says the coachman, and four faultless greys, impatient of restraint, rush forth with their living load: in a twinkling we stoop under the ancient gateway, and turn into Fetter Lane; now we cautiously descend Holborn Hill, skilfully we are steered through Cheapside, past the Mansion House, through Cornhill, along dark and sullen Leadenhall, Whitechapel, all glaring with gas and butcher’s meat; our driver gives the horses their heads, and our pace becomes pleasant. We pass Bow Church, and the bridge at Stratford, and now we have left the gaslights far behind, above us is the grand dome of heaven studded with its myriads of stars.
[ The RIBA award-winning, Allies and Morrison-designed Peter Harrison Planetarium opened at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich Park in May 2007. More can be read here. R.D.]