From the Thames to Eternity
Victoria Embankment stones to be repurposed for new heritage experience
Selected granite stones that comprise the Victoria Embankment have been installed at various points through the City of London, as part of a project known as ‘From the Thames to Eternity. ‘The project aims to celebrate the role of stone in the City’s creation and stimulate discussion about reuse of materials and circular economy in the built environment.
Starting down by the Thames and Peter’s Hill, leading to St Pauls and Smithfield Market, the 58 granite stones, each weighing around one tonne, have been configured to provide wayfinding, locations to rest and gather, as well as places to reflect on their history.
(View of stones laid outside St Paul's Cathedral)
‘From the Thames to Eternity’ is a temporary stone re-use project designed by Matthew Barnett Howland and Oliver Wilton from University College London and CSK Architects. It is argued that this project can make a positive contribution to life in the City by stimulating discussion on the ‘circular economy,’ an idea that advocates for re-using materials, like these granite blocks, as a means of tackling waste, pollution and climate change.
Information boards made of reclaimed oak are located at each site, providing background information about the project, a map to orientate yourself, and locations of the seven sites to encourage people to walk the trail.
Chairman of the City of London’s Streets and Walkways Committee, Graham Packham, said:
“The Thames to Eternity project is a brilliant initiative that combines our commitment to delivering a thriving arts and culture scene for all to enjoy, with our goals for a sustainable, net-zero City by 2040. Events like these will enliven the City’s streets and venues, encouraging audiences to experience this part of London in a new way.
“I would like to encourage everyone to visit the installations if they get the chance. The stones have acquired a rich character that reflect 150 years of weathering and tidal movement, adding a layer of physical history to their cultural heritage.”
Matthew Barnett Howland and Oliver Wilton from University College London, said:
“These granite stones from the Thames River wall are remarkable pieces of natural history and cultural heritage. By storing and displaying them across the City of London, we want to highlight the long tradition of stone re-use in the City and to provoke discussion on the need to move to a more circular model in general.”
As a city built on clay and gravel, London has no native stone and so it has always been a precious commodity, flowing into the capital for continuous use and re-use. The City of London is a vibrant example of the historical importance of this material, with rich and diverse stone architectures dating back to Roman times.
The stones were quarried in the C19th, mainly in Cornwall and Scotland, for use in Joseph Bazalgette’s Thames River wall at Victoria Embankment. They have now been removed to enable the new Thames Tideway Tunnel and will be installed across the City on a temporary basis, before moving on to their next long-term use in a forthcoming urban realm project. The stones were gifted to the project by Westminster City Council, enabled by Tideway, prepared by CED Stone Group and installed on site by City Corporation term contractor FM Conway.
You can read more on the project website: From the Thames to Eternity installation - City of London