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Breathing New Life in London’s Historic Buildings: 4 Old Structures With a New Function



London happens to be one of the oldest cities in the world and it’s not surprising to know that there are a lot of buildings with a colourful history in the city. Converted buildings are not hard to find but there are certainly places with an interesting past that would be a cool stop especially when you are in the mood for more of London’s history.


The Old Operating Theatre, London Bridge

In the 1800s, specifically around the Victorian era, this theatre was used as an operating room for patients with severe conditions who were rushed to St. Thomas’ Hospital. Around that time, anaesthesia was not yet available and the equipment used was close to primitive. Patients had to deal with invasive surgeries like amputations without any pain reliever, skilled surgeons could go through with the entire process quickly but when a novice does the job mangled limbs could be hacked and chiselled for a deathly long time. This surgical theatre is one of the oldest in Europe and be sure to time your visit for staff talks that will bring this bizarre theatre to life. Today, this has been converted into a museum and the adjacent herb garret has medical displays to complement the Old Operating Theatre.


Hard Rock Café’s The Vault, Park Lane

London is full of restaurants and there are definitely a lot of stops to drop by when you are interested in a meal but you can still see a lot of tourists who are waiting for a table at Hard Rock. This can be quite, disconcerting but quite worth it. One cool tip is to have fun is to go to The Vault which is perfect for those who love music memorabilia. This area used to be part of the Coutts Bank, hence the name. Today The Vault has been converted to a gallery with an impressive exhibit. You can find the guitar in the Guns N’ Roses video for November Rain here and it is home to the harpsichord which was used regularly by The Beatles. Admission at the vault is free although the opening hours differ from that of the primary dining space.


London Marriot County Hall Hotel, South Bank

Sitting right next to Westminster Bridge, this hotel has a good view of the Thames. Plus, it is not just a luxurious hotel; it has a long history to boot. The London Marriott used to be a County Hall which opened in 1922. This served as a headquarters for the London County Council for more than six decades up until 1998. There is no denying that the building has character and it is a hub for corporate guests especially on weekdays. Adopting the regular Marriot style, you can expect the chain’s dominant stamp in this historical hotel.


O’Neills Pub, Muswell Hill, North London

The conversion of this Presbyterian Church may horrify its original founders but it is certainly quite a hit with a lot of customers. The decline in religion in the UK led to an increase in the number of churches that sit unused and given the high maintenance costs, they have been converted into something else. The façade of red bricks may seem to be imposing at first but as you hear the pop music, it wouldn’t be too hard to tell that the place has a new set of worshippers. The exterior looks the same although it has been converted to an Irish pub with a bar instead of an altar.


Even in historic London, change is inevitable and this is certainly true with the city’s buildings. Nevertheless, even if they had a change in function, these buildings will remain to be witnesses of past eras. Given the number of historic buildings in the city, there are bound to be more conversions, the question is would the new functions of these historic structure be more appropriate or more controversial?


Author: Agustina

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