Londoners love to give nicknames to all things, of course this applies to the buildings. One of the best things about London is the variety of the different buildings we have, the contrast of the very new right next to some historical masterpieces. Here are the top 7 Nicknames for London Buildings, can you guess where they came from?
1) The Gherkin
Address: 30 St Mary Axe
The Gherkin is named after the fact that it looks exactly like the vegetable gherkin (or a pickle). It is one of the most iconic buildings in London. It is majority offices but there is a restaurant and bar at the top you can eat at to get a panoramic view of London. The Gherkin used to be called the Swiss Re building after it’s previous owners but now they have embraced the name Londoners gave it.
Fun fact: Even though the building looks completely curved, there is only 1 piece of curved glass in the whole building. All of the glass panes are flat except 1 located at the very top of the building.
2) The Walkie Talkie
Address: 20 Fenchurch Street
The Walkie-Talkie is one of the most profitable buildings in London. The rental cost in London increases the higher the floor. Because the highest floors have a larger surface area, the walkie talkie is very cost effective.
The top 3 floors of the walkie-talkie are the Sky Garden which is free to visit. There is a café as well as a restaurant up there too which is a great spot for a brilliant view over London. The Sky garden being free to the public for the lifetime of the building was one of the ways the building was able to get planning permission. Even though it is free, you need to book an entrance slot in advance to visit the Sky Garden.
Fun fact: because of the way the glass is curved, the sun reflecting on the street was actually strong enough to melt cars in the street below. Imagine coming back to your car to find it melted by the building above!
3) The Egg
Address: Kamal Chunchie Way
The Egg was built to be London City Hall, home to the offices of the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority. It is a curved building almost completely glass that looks like an egg. Previous London Mayors have called this building ‘The Glass Testicle’ or ‘The Glass Gonad’, I prefer Egg personally! London City Hall moved in 2021 as it found that the Egg was too expensive, it is now offices. It is not possible to visit the building as it is private offices.
Fun fact: The Apprentice TV show final episode was filmed here in 2018.
4) The Wobbly Bridge
Address: Thames Embankment
The Wobbly Bridge, known officially as the Millennium Bridge, opened officially in 2000. The first 2 days the bridge moved with the movement of the people walking on it, claiming its name of the ‘wobbly bridge’. The bridge was closed after 2 days and didn’t reopen again until 2002. The bridge has not ‘wobbled’ since the rework they did on it. I actually walked on it on it’s first day of opening and thought the wobble was really fun. 10 year old me was very disappointed when the bridge reopened and the fun wobble game had stopped.
The bridge is a pedestrian bridge that is free to cross and connects St Paul’s Cathedral to the Tate Modern across the Thames. It is one of the nicest views in London and I highly recommend visiting it.
Fun fact: The wobbly bridge was destroyed by dementors in the film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Don’t believe it, it still stands strong to this day.
5) Big Ben
Address: Houses of Parliament, Westminster
Big Ben is one of the most famous landmarks in London but not many people know that Big Ben is not it’s correct name. The correct name for the Tower is the Elizabeth Tower. Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell which rings within the tower.
Big Ben is in the Palace of Westminster Complex which is home to the British Houses of Parliament. It is possible to visit Big Ben with a Tour of the Palace of Westminster. This is a very popular visit so must be booked in advance. For a great picture of Big Ben, walk across Westminster Bridge.
The Elizabeth tower has just in 2022 completed a 5 year renovation that cost £80 million. During the renovation the clock was covered in scaffolding and the bell did not ring.
Fun fact: The bell continued to ring throughout the Second World War although the clock faces were not lit up at night during the Blitz to try and not give away the location of central London.
6) The Cheese Grater
Address: 122 Leadenhall Street
One of the funniest nicknames for London buildings, The Leadenhall building is nicknamed The Cheese Grater because of its wedge shape. One of the sides is completely vertical but slanted on the opposite side. This building is home to offices and cannot be visited for the views. One of the reasons behind the thinning out of the building at the top is to protect the view of St Paul’s Cathedral. The view of St Paul’s and other landmarks is protected from other points in London and this determines planning choices for many of the new buildings in London.
Fun fact: The building’s tapered shape means that each floor is 0.75m narrower than the one below it.
7) The Shard
Address: 32 London Bridge St
The Shard is the tallest building in London. It is called the Shard because the top of the building looks like a shard of glass. The Shard is the correct name of the building. The Shard managed to avoid getting a nickname as throughout the building works, the building site had THE SHARD written across the top visible from all sides. This was very clever marketing that clearly works because to this day, Londoners use the ‘correct’ name for the building.
The Shard is home to offices, private residences and the Hotel Shangri-La. There is a viewing platform on the top floors of the Shard that you have to pay to visit. There are also many restaurants and bars you can visit for dinner and drinks with a great view.
Fun fact: The Shard is called the Shard because it is made to look like a Shard of broken glass at the top of it. The top floors are open and the walls do not meet like shards of glass. The architect wanted the building to be ‘a shard of glass through the heart of historic London’.
That’s all of the Best Nicknames for London Buildings!
Now you know all of the best Nicknames for London Buildings. Did you guess them? Which one did you prefer? Let me know in the comments!