Back in London now after a brief stint in Berlin and Brighton. I've a busy week ahead. Possible trip scheduled tomorrow or Friday to experience a railway service from an open access operator (as I'm currently studying about that mystical world of railway business at the moment), and on Thursday I have to get my photograph taken for an upcoming book about London (which features some writing from myself, and the likes of Stephen Fry), before heading off to my Trade Union's branch meeting. Somewhere in the middle of all of that I need to sort out my application for a Distinction from the Royal Photographic Society, which I've been meaning to do for years but just never get around to actually doing it because of the work that's involved, and when you're studying for an unrelated diploma at the same time, as well as zipping across the capital and the country, it does get a bit exhausting.
Anyway, I attended an Institution of Railway Operators talk on Public Sector Franchises yesterday evening, hoping to get some notes or pointers from it to help with some of the railway industry's business aspects and legislation that I'm studying about at the moment. The speaker was a Michael Holden, the former Chief Executive of Directly Operated Railways (a holding company set up by the Department for Transport). He basically stepped in when the likes of Connex and East Coast went back into the public sector and he turned them both around; his talk was very interesting and gave a great insight into the way the government can get in the way of things when railways come back into public ownership.
I always take the stairs going back down to the lobby as the lift isn't really much to write home about (though the lift lobby areas above the ground floor are, of course) and it's just laziness if you take a lift going downstairs anyway, plus it gives you the chance to appreciate the building as you wander down, especially when it's outside of office hours.
As it goes, most of our IRO talks for the South East region take place at what was my employer's headquarters. Most of our departments have been moved to the glass monolithic office block of doom outside Southwark Station, but some of our core departments, like Scheduling Services (who design things like the duties for Train Operators) still remain at 55 Broadway. I'm often here to use the library for research (we have a small, but very useful library on the 3rd Floor), so it's easy to take the building's striking architecture and art deco interior for granted when you're in and out of the building quite a lot. Though lunches on the rooftop can be quite fun when you've got some of London's landmarks for a view.
I understand that every now and again 55 Broadway has been accessible to the public on the Open House tours, but most recently, the London Transport Museum's 'Hidden London' tours have been offering access on some weekends. Worth a punt if you can get tickets and or cannot get access to the building like I do. One of my favourite parts of the building is the staircase for some bizarre reason, but there's plenty to like here if you like heritage design and architecture.
At some point I'll talk about and show you one of the other floors where our Managing Director's office used to be (lots of dark wood panelling down the corridors, though the offices themselves are a bit shit), but in the meantime, you can read more about the Grade I listed 55 Broadway on Wikipedia: wikipedia.org/wiki/55_Broadway