When mainstream tourists trek around Britain’s capital, it’s a sure bet they make a beeline for tourist honeytraps like Buckingham Palace, Knightsbridge and Trafalgar Square.
But if your taste’s a little more leftfield and you like to holiday off the beaten track, you may prefer soaking up the beautiful decay of buildings of yesteryear left to crumble, rot and collapse.
If you’re looking for lost London, here are seven fantastic forgotten buildings.
- Aldwych Station
Visiting Aldwych Station with Brit Movie Tours is a terrific experience. It was opened in 1907 and closed in 1994, but you can still see the ticket hall, lifts and abandoned platforms.
It featured in films like Superman IV, The Krays and V for Vendetta.
- Smithfield’s General Market
Smithfield’s abandoned general market building in Farringdon and has a delightful domed roof. Designed by Sir Horace Jones in 1883, it was slated for demolition years ago, but has enjoyed a stay of execution thanks to campaigning conservationists.
- Sailmaker’s loft, Limehouse
The Caird & Rayner building in Limehouse is the last surviving sailmaker’s loft in the city’s East End.
Built in 1869, it was occupied until 1972 and still contains antiquated winding and winching equipment elegantly gathering dust.
- Tate & Lyle syrup factory, Silvertown
What could satisfy your architectural sweet tooth better than a trip to a syrup factory in Silvertown near City Airport?
Parts of the 140-year old Plaistow Wharf facility are still operational, and it sports an iconic branded golden syrup tin sign on its façade.
- Abbey Mills pumping station
Touring Abbey Mills pumping station with Look Up London is a real treat.
And if you think the idea of strolling around a sewage station stinks, you’re wrong — this Stratford landmark is an outstanding ornate Victorian edifice designed by Joseph Bazalgette and built between 1865 and 1868. It blends French Gothic and Byzantine architecture beautifully and has to be experienced first-hand to be believed.
- Caroline Gardens Chapel, Peckham
This grade-II listed building dates from 1827 and was originally an old folk’s home for retired pub landlords who had fallen on hard times.
It was bombed in World War Two and has lain derelict for most of the intervening decades, but it’s now the Asylum creative space and is popular for weddings and movie shoots.
- Maunsell Sea Forts
Maunsell Sea Forts must rank amongst Britain’s weirdest buildings — protruding from the water on stilts in the Thames Estuary, they were constructed to defend the UK against aerial attacks from the Luftwaffe and were later used to house pirate radio stations.
Find out more about these unique buildings at maunsellseaforts.com.
Catch a coach from any major UK city to London Victoria station to start exploring our abandoned hotspots.
And there are plenty of well-connected airports to choose from which each have their charms — for example, Gatwick has an express train to central London and smaller hubs like Luton are well served by parking providers like Looking4.com.
Explore forgotten London and unearth secrets of the city’s unusual underbelly.
That’s our list! Add your own abandoned London attractions in the comments section.