Health-based menu’s on the Northbank

‘You Know My Name’ by Jonny Woo

I know what you think of me.

That I am a ‘Has Been.’

An unremarkable inconvenience.

A passing through.

Can’t think of anywhere else,

On the way to, second choice rendezvous.

A suntrap, a wind tunnel

A polluted, choking, stone and concrete, asphalt funnel.

I’ll be the lesser man and take it in my stride

Let someone else have his or her moment,

For sure I’ve had many.

Mine is a quiet pride.

You just see an ordinary bloke.

But I’m working hard for you.

An escape from and gateway to

An artery pumping life into your London’s beating heart.

Since way before your humble start.

Once the only vital link between the pleasure and the purse

It’s me you’ll pass along before you amble through that majestic arch called Admiralty

And stroll the rose pathway to see a Queen.

But I won’t brag like a ‘Knightsbridge’

Or turn my nose up like a ‘Mayfair’.

Or jostle you like an ‘Oxford’

Or tempt you like a ‘Bond’

Or pretend to be someone I’m not like a ‘Portobello’.

I’m neither a street, nor a road, nor an avenue, nor a lane.

I’m just a ‘The’.

From a song, a magazine,

A cigarette or a game,

You know my name.

Pounded by tourists lured by theatre lights

Pummeled by red buses spewing workers into the fire.

Thrashed by diesel cabs ferrying fashionable mobs.

Ground by midnight limousines hiding powdered faces behind tinted glass

Sighing as they slope through the doors of The Savoy,

‘At last!’

As the last suburban trains rumble over Charing’s arches

Echoing with the beat of bodies in ecstatic release

Behind Heaven’s steel gates.

And just feet away in St Martin’s shadow

A forgotten voice asks

‘Where are those stars of yours tonight, Oscar?’

Let me caress you with tales of the palaces that rose where a sandwich shop stands.

I’d reveal the size and the make of the shoes of Huxley, Wilde, Kipling and Woolf

I’d let tell you what it feels like to have your skin brushed by fine silk hems

I’ll burn your ears with the secrets of sinners.

I’ve rubbed shoulders with kings

I’ve laughed with all manner of queens.

I’ve prayed for forgiveness and clemency.

And, if you dare to explore my fingers,

I’ll show you the real London.

I’m older than you

But, I feel like a young man welcoming the world.

I’ve seen so much

Yet I optimistically wait my renaissance.

As the tides of The Thames ebb and flow.

So you’ll come and so you’ll go.

But I’ll still be here, stoically grand.

Not street, not road, nor avenue, nor lane.

You know my name.

I am The Strand.

The Northbank’s CEO recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list

Congratulations To The Northbank BID’s CEO

Huge congratulations are in order for The Northbank BID’s CEO, Ruth Duston, as today she has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Recognised for her significant contribution to businesses in the capital, Ruth has been involved with Business Improvement Districts and business partnerships for almost two decades, representing thousands of businesses and employees and contributing to the enhancement of vast areas of London, from Northbank, Victoria, and Cheapside to Hatton Garden, Richmond, Aldgate and Old Street.

London is expected to establish its 60th BID this year, and Ruth has been involved in the development and running of more BIDs in the capital than any other person. Over the last decade she has leveraged in over £20m of private sector investment for the various projects she has led, becoming the catalyst in generating over £6bn of national and international investment for the redevelopment across major parts of central London.

Speaking on the announcement of her Honour, Ruth commented:

“I am incredibly humbled to have been given this honour. This award is testament to the fantastic achievements of the BIDs and business partnerships I have been involved with over the years. I believe it demonstrates that public / private partnership is vital to London’s continued success and is more important than ever in these rather uncertain times. 

“I see every day the significant force for good that BIDs in London have become, working side by side with innovative and vastly experienced business leaders and visionary public servants and politicians. It’s a busy, fast moving world, but I thrive on our continued ability to make a difference, transforming communities and helping to make London the great global city it is. I’d like to thank all the businesses I have worked with over the years – their support and commitment to the partnership agenda has made this achievement today possible.” 

Ruth’s OBE reflects the important role that BIDs and business partnerships are now playing in the ‘public’ realm, especially in the capital. This summer she will run her latest BID ballot – for the Victoria Westminster proposed BID – and the appetite for BIDs is showing no sign of waning. To the contrary, BIDs are now powerful and strategic bodies, representing thousands of businesses across London and able to work collaboratively with the public sector to deliver real change.

Northbank Summer Flags Along The Strand

We’re delighted to bring Union Flags to the Strand for the first time for a summer filled with celebrations and festivities. We’ve already had fantastic feedback so come along and see for yourself. While you’re here join in with our fantastic array of events and activities, and enjoy lots of delicious food and drinks (tip: don’t forget your Privilege Card!).

Remember to tag us on social media! @TheNorthbankBID.

The Northbank’s Modern Maypole for London Festival of Architecture 2018

The ‘Modern Maypole’ will form a contemporary focus for public events and activity on The Strand when the Festival returns to the capital on 1-30 June 2018, and is the result of a design competition organised by the Festival in partnership with The Northbank BID.

ScottWhitbystudio and WhitbyWood have drawn up plans for a ‘Modern Maypole’ made of a complex tower of 32 golden maypoles – each representing a London borough. After the Festival, the poles will be donated to schools and community organisations across the capital, forming a legacy as these totemic markers themselves become new civic beacons in London for years to come.

Designed by father and son duo architect Alex-Scott Whitby and engineer Mark Whitby, the ‘Modern Maypole’ structure embodies a hybrid of engineering ingenuity and architectural design. Each pole is held in place by ‘tensegrity’, a term coined in the 1960s by Kenneth Snelson and Buckminster Fuller, whereby the structure stands thanks to the compressive strengths of the anodized aluminium poles and the tensile strengths of coloured steel wires acting in unison. The design team also played with London’s built tradition and delved into London’s rich architectural history, finding inspiration in the ‘Skylon’ a temporary structure built during the Festival of Britain, and the form of the neighbouring church of St Mary-le-Strand, which itself is a scaled down version of the entrance towers at St Paul’s Cathedral.

The maypole will stand outside the church of St Mary-le-Strand: the site of London’s largest and long-lost maypole, which was constructed after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 and towered over the 17th century city. The ‘Modern Maypole’, which draws upon London’s built history and folk tradition, will stand in a transformed cityscape as a reminder of how radically London’s skyline, character and identity have changed over the centuries. In keeping with the London Festival of Architecture’s ‘identity’ theme for 2018, the project will be a temporary landmark that also explores shifting ideas of communal identity and shared experience.

The international design contest was launched in June 2017 and was open to architects, artists, designers and engineers. ScottWhitbystudio and WhitbyWood saw off competition from a field of 32 entries to win the commission. Entries were judged by an expert jury comprising Tamsie Thomson (director, London Festival of Architecture), Julia Barfield (managing director, Marks Barfield Architects), Carole Boyd (actor playing Lynda Snell in The Archers) Jonathan Reekie (director, Somerset House Trust), Andy Downey (director, Elliot Wood Partnership), John Goodall (architecture editor, Country Life), Jonathan Morrison (architecture correspondent, The Times) and Megan Dixon (marketing and communications, The Northbank BID).

Mark Whitby, director, WhitbyWood said: 

“The Modern Maypole is the result of the wishful thinking of a father and son collaboration which has led to a ‘look no hands’ structure that is challenging our own engineering logic. Winning the competition has been both exciting and challenging for WhitbyWood as we now look to turn our design dream into a constructed reality by putting our theories to the test.“

Alex Scott-Whitby, director, ScottWhitbystudio said:

“We are delighted, humbled, and tremendously excited to have won the ‘Modern Maypole’ competition, as a team it means a great deal to all of us to have been tasked with the honour of creating a new structure on this hugely important London site. We hope that what we create will become a place for Londoners to meet, visitors to explore and a marker point that will help London forge its new identity.”

Ruth Duston, chief executive of The Northbank BID said:

“The Northbank’s upcoming addition of a Modern Maypole will enliven the Strand and Aldwych in June 2018; paving the way for the next stage of plans for the Aldwych Vision. We are excited to see a project which will pay homage to the beautiful St Mary-le-Strand church and its setting amongst some of London’s most exciting cultural institutions. Visit us and see it for yourself!”

London’s identity has changed almost beyond recognition since a maypole last stood on The Strand. For us, the ‘Modern Maypole’ is therefore a brilliant vehicle to explore how the city, and with it our sense of individual and collective identity has changed. It also offers a fascinating exploration of public space at the bustling heart of London, but most importantly will give us a brilliant showcase of architectural and engineering imagination in 2018 by a fantastic London-based team.


Read Architect’s Journal coverage on 14/12/17.

The Northbank Venue Showcase With King’s College London

The first ever Northbank Venue Showcase was a huge success, bringing over a hundred event organisers together to sample the wide range of businesses to hire space with, for every occasion.

Watch this to see how the evening at the newly refurbished Bush House went.

Exhibitors included:


Check out the photographs here and more Northbank venues here.


We hope to plan another Northbank Venue Showcase in 2018, if you would like to register your interest in attending, please email, stating your name, company and the type of events you organise.


London First Puts Aldwych Vision As Top Priority


Proposed transformation of Aldwych, with the removal of the gyratory and the creation of a new public space around the church


London’s business chiefs step up to transform public spaces at Aldwych, Hanover Square and East Mayfair
July 13, 2017



“London’s business chiefs today threw their support behind three key projects that promise to transform public spaces in Aldwych, Hanover Square and East Mayfair.

The influential West End Streets group, set up by London First, brings together the likes of The Portman Estate, Arup, The Crown Estate and Grosvenor Britain and Ireland to work with the West End Business Improvement Districts to confirm funding and delivery of key London public realm projects.

The group helped deliver the transformation of Leicester Square in 2012 and continues to champion schemes that will make a significant difference to London’s public spaces.

The three schemes unveiled today, in Aldwych, Hanover Square and East Mayfair, are significant projects for London, promising to open up public spaces, improve air quality and conditions for pedestrians and cyclists and deliver benefits to residents, visitors and local businesses. All three schemes are deliverable within the next five years.

• The Aldwych Vision: an ambitious scheme centred on the removal of the Aldwych gyratory and the creation of a new civic space at the heart of the area.
• Hanover Square: the project will renovate gardens at the centre of the square, and pedestrianise part of it, ahead of the opening of the Elizabeth Line station at Bond Street.
• East Mayfair: plans to improve public spaces and reduce congestion on streets including Saville Row, Cork Street, Burlington Gardens, Clifford Street and Old Burlington Street. The improvements will open-up routes through the West End and support the opening of the new Royal Academy of Arts entrance on Burlington Gardens.

Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of London First, said: “The plans for Aldwych, Hanover Square and East Mayfair promise to transform the areas, making them more open, accessible and attractive for residents, local businesses and the millions of people who visit the West End each year. To make sure they don’t get stuck on the drawing board, business is joining forces to champion the work, delivering real ambition and investment for London and our world-famous streets.”

Bill Moore CBE, Chief Executive of The Portman Estate and Chair of the West End Streets group, said: “West End Streets has been successful in backing schemes such as the Baker Street Two Way in Marylebone and the work to revitalise Bond Street in the preparation for the opening of the Elizabeth Line. The three schemes announced today will continue this momentum. They will improve public realm, reduce traffic congestion, enhance air quality and enable growth in the respective areas, delivering a better environment for residents, workers and visitors. We look forward to working with local authorities, TfL, business improvement districts and other stakeholders to deliver these improvements.”

The West End Streets group was established in 2007 and has helped deliver projects including the transformation of Leicester Square, the roll out of ‘Legible London’, which provides over 200 wayfinding signs across central London, and the ‘Summer Streets’ initiative which sees the annual pedestrianisation of Regent Street for four Sundays in July.”