Chelsea Harbour

My new day job contract has me working at Chelsea Harbour. It’s not an area that I know well, and not what I pictured in my mind when I thought about Chelsea, before working here.

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On the first day, I went through the Chelsea Harbour Design Centre to get to the office I was going to be working in – I didn’t even know that there was a design centre in Chelsea! It houses 116 showrooms, focussing on interior design. Vogue describes it as, “The interior design world’s Mecca.” With over 600 different brands on sale here, it’s probably an accurate description. It’s quite lovely to walk through there, but there is a quicker way in and out of the office, so that often takes precedence…

The surrounding area is quite a mixture of new and old, private and public. A few hundred yards one way, down towards Lots Road, is what I would call “Old Chelsea,” with residential terraced houses, schools, pubs and all the normal day-to-day life you would expect to find in a city. The other way is a private estate, where there are barriers across the road and modern office blocks and flats. (Are they called apartments because it’s Chelsea, I wonder?). Apart from the local Tesco Express, I haven’t ventured down there yet; only because of time, not because I think I might get thrown out on my ear.

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The harbour itself is different again. It was built on the site of an old coal yard and dock. The whole site was derelict when planning permission was granted back in 1986. There were contaminated materials that had to be cleared out before any building work could take place.

In the year from April 1986 when work started, there were some impressive activities taking place, if you get excited about building works: three new bridges were completed onsite, 55 acres of floor space were built to name but two.

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The 18-storey high Belvedere Tower in Chelsea Harbour itself has what looks like a little ball shaped weather-vain on the top, I’ve looked at it often when standing on the station waiting for my train. I’ve since discovered that it’s not a weather-vain at all, it’s a hollow sphere connected to a tide gauge by the lock gate by the Thames that indicates lock availability. Apparently, and I must look out for this next time I happen to be aboard a boat or the banks of that part of the river, the tower is visible for quite some distance in both directions.

Chelsea Harbour is an interesting place to work. I don’t mean just the job (although that is interesting) but the whole area. Our office is in part of the harbour development but there is a lot of glass – good because it lets in lots of natural light, but bad because it’s hot now, and will be a nightmare in the summer. Hey ho. I will have to try out some of the local amenities, although there hasn’t been time for that yet. I’ll keep you posted.

© Susan Shirley 2016

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