Gabriel's Wharf review (Oct 2015)
This is an old review Read my most recent review here
To be honest, I'm only reviewing this place because every other guidebook includes it, so I figured that you might miss it if it wasn't there. But it's just a little ramshackle square of shops on the Southbank. It's nothing special. I don't even bother popping in when I'm walking past.
For some unknown reason everybody loves Gabriel's Wharf.
Maybe it's because the shop fronts are all made out of wood? Maybe because they have painted the shop signs in bright pinks and blues? Maybe because the shops have got quirky names like 'The House of Eunice' and 'Nordic Nicnac'? But when I look through the windows they just seem like normal shops to me — shops selling women's clothes (old fashioned clothes) and baby's pyjamas. They've got a couple of art galleries selling prints and very average-looking paintings -- the kind of paintings that get knocked up out the back to flog to the tourists.
In the middle of the square is a fairly interesting collection of carved wooden benches and strange figurines. They look like they have been chiselled out of gnarled old logs and driftwood. You might like one for your garden I suppose -- but good luck trying to carry it home.
I think it's much more interesting to stand outside on the river bank and listen to the dirty water sloshing up against the wall. This is one of the few places in London where they have actually got a proper beach with sand (albeit very small). You sometimes get guys standing down there carving out huge sandcastle scenes -- sleeping dogs and racing cars -- who then bellow at the passersby to chuck down a few pennies as payment (what, for building a sandcastle?). Right now I'm watching one person chucking some money to the sculptor, whilst another one is chucking some breadcrumbs to the ducks.
The last thing worth seeing (or worth noticing) is the ITV Studios overlooking the path. It's that low white building on the corner, with the big dark windows on the first floor. They always have them dimmed down so it's very difficult to see inside, but you might just be able to glimpse a few lights and cameras where they film some of their TV shows. They use this river scene as a picturesque backdrop, so if you jump up twenty feet in the air maybe you'll end up with a bit-part on This Morning.
I’ve been here before…
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