Holborn's New Free Rooftop | Look Up London

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!

Holborn's New Free Rooftop | Look Up London

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)

Holborn's New Free Rooftop | Look Up London

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.

Holborn's New Free Rooftop | Look Up London

Directly ahead is the very odd steeple of St George’s Bloomsbury, made famous in Hogarth’s etching of Gin Lane.

Holborn's New Free Rooftop | Look Up London

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.

Public Domain by Dilif CC BY-SA 3.0

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!

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5 Comments

  • PETER DAWSON

    Reply

    I was intending to visit after reading about it on the Londonist but especially now I’ve seen that Blue spiral shoot … just love spirals

    September 21, 2022 at 10:41 am
  • Rebecca S Kornegay

    Reply

    I plan to visit, but it will be a while before I come over from North Carolina. Still, I’m keeping this post, as I keep many of your posts. Previous visits have never include walking tours, but I will sign up for one of yours. May you keep at it!

    September 21, 2022 at 3:08 pm
  • Nick Harrison

    Reply

    It’s now on my list for a visit, for whenever I’m in London. Thanks for sharing !

    September 22, 2022 at 9:29 am
  • Jan Garbett

    Reply

    Definitely will try this.
    I usually add something to the day when I have hospital appointments in London, in order to make good use of the time.
    Was planning on going to an “open house,” but my Sept 19th needed rescheduling. So this will fit nicely on October 10th.
    Thanks so much for your informative blog.

    September 22, 2022 at 12:40 pm
  • Saskia Adam

    Reply

    I’ll try to visit in November when I’m London. Latest addition to my mapstr 🙂

    September 22, 2022 at 4:19 pm

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