Holborn’s New Free Panoramic Rooftop
Thanks to the tip off from Londonist for a new free rooftop in Holborn. I popped in to visit yesterday and not only is it spectacular but there’s some fun geeky history to find too!
The rooftop can be found on top of the Post Building in Holborn. The building – as the name suggests – was once a Royal Mail sorting office and you’ll find the rooftop entrance on New Oxford Street. A small sign for ‘public roof garden’ is on the large glass double doors (I’ve added a yellow arrow for clarity)
It’s completely free and open Monday-Sunday 10am-7pm. You’ll need to sign in and go through security then head up in the lift.
Views from the Post Building
As you exit the lift, the view over to Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia opens up ahead of you.
Behind it is the green dome of the British museum, surrounded by the glass cushion of its Great Court which looks like this from the inside.
The 7,500sq ft roof is stepped to allow a full panoramic view across London and its seriously impressive.
You can see all the way over towards The City and Canary Wharf in the East.
As well as the London Eye and House of Parliament in the West.
History of the Post Building
The former sorting office for the General Post Office was completed in the 1960s. But intriguingly the Western Central District Office wasn’t just a sorting office, but also a stop on the underground Mail Rail.
Built in 1911 and covering over 6miles under London, the Mail Rail worked 22 hours a day shuttling letters and parcels 70ft below the city. You can read more about it here and walk through the former tunnels here.
In the entrance for the rooftop there’s a map of the Mail Rail, I’ve circled the former station below.
But there’s an even cooler addition in the entrance lobby. A surviving spiral chute which eased the heavy lifting on staff and made the process more efficient!
On the wall is an infographic explaining the process of sorting letters and parcels.
You can read more about the history of the General Post Office (and a strange survivor in Walthamstow) in my blog post here.
Visiting Holborn’s Free Rooftop Garden
The public rooftop garden is open Monday-Sunday, 10am-7pm and completely free with no pre-bookng required. You’ll have to go through airport-style security and sign in with a name and email. Large bags might have to be left in lockers at the front desk. There are toilets (including disabled toilets at the top).
Let me know if you’re planning to visit in the comments!
More London Inspiration
Latest Blog Posts
Orange Street doesn’t look very historic at first glance. The narrow Westminster street lies between the National Gallery and Leicester Square but there’s a lot more to see than you might guess. Firstly, it was only known as Orange Street from 1905, a reference to......
Nestled behind the Bank of England you can find St Margaret Lothbury. It’s easy to miss, hemmed in by other buildings, but if open it’s well worth popping in to admire its treasures and history. (I’ve previously written about the beautiful Italianate building next door,......
Within the extensive grounds of Chatsworth House in Derbyshire you can find remnants of inspiration for one of London’s most extraordinary buildings, The Crystal Palace. It gave its name to an area of London (and a football team!) but thanks to a disastrous fire you......
Have you admired this dolls house-esque building on Tower Hill? This is Trinity House, an institution whose history stretches back to 1514, based here since 1794. What is Trinity House? Today Trinity House is a charity and its primary concern is the safety of shipping......
For the everyday passerby, there’s not much reason to venture into Strand Lane. It’s not a convenient cut through to the Strand however it has two quite amazing bits of history to discover! I’ve previously covered one of them on the blog, the history of......
As part of my new walking tour Hidden Wonders of Waterloo I’ve been researching the history of Surrey Chapel, an 18th century church that once stood by Southwark Station. Although it no longer stands today, it’s a prime example of the historic twists and turns......