Where can I find cool urban photo greeting cards?
Billington Pix has a great selection of blank urban greeting cards that are based mostly around Southwark, London. These unique photographic cards are superbly captured and can be used for any occasion.
Here are 10 cool urban greeting cards that we know you will love. Whether you are looking for a birthday card, a friendship card, a more thoughtful greeting card than you normally find on the high street, or simply a piece of photographic urban art to hang on your wall, you won't be disappointed.
Billington Pix greeting cards are hand-printed on high-quality eco-friendly paper. We care about the environment so you can be rest assured that our paper is sourced only from Forestry Commission approved land.
Rich in social and industrial history
But let's get straight down to it and look at these excellent urban greetings cards that we have for sale. When we look at the urban theme it is important to see the history of the local area. Most of our urban-themed greeting cards are captured around the Southwark area. This unique London location is rich in social and industrial history that is captured perfectly in our cards.
I've written previously about the influence of Charles Dickens on the local area. Darwin was passionately concerned for the welfare of the poor in Victorian Britain. It is a good thing that a lot of the slums from Darwin's day have since been cleared. More recently Southwark has become home to a number of hugely modern buildings, both residential and commerical. This provides a wonderful contrast against the remaining older properties, which we can see in some of these urban-themed greeting cards.
Equally so, it is interesting to look at the decay that comes with construction. I have a fascination with bricks and buildings. The humble brick can provide much strength and integrity to a building. However if left to fall into disrepair this has the opposite effect. Nature has a way of working its way into these man-made constructions, which for the photographer can provide a wonderful juxtaposition of urban decay.
1. All Hallows inner city church
Take this image of All Hallows Church on Copperfield Street (named after Dickens' protagonist, David Copperfield). It sits at the corner of a lovely church garden. Unfortunately, however, this building looks rather worse for wear, having been bombed significantly during WW2. In fact most of the original 1879 church designed by George Gilbert Scott Junior was obliterated. This side does remain and during the 1980s it was used as a recording studio. However, the wonderful patina on the external walls and the dislodged brickwork remind us just how delicate these Victorian inner-city buildings can be. If ever you go to visit this churchyard, at least in the near future, you might be a little shocked by the large ominous cracks that have appeared down the side of it. Hopefully somebody might be able to rescue it soon, before it is too late. For the time-being, however, it makes a wonderful image in its Victorian Gothic style and provides a lovely patina to add to the warmth of its surrounding neighbourhood.
2. Shard and old Victorian factory building
Now have a look at this superb urban image. It's taken from a south-east aspect of the Shard, just along the elevated railway line out of London Bridge Station.
What a fantastic juxtaposition of old urban with new urban! On the left we have a somewhat neglected Victorian factory warehouse rising high up into the skyline. It's a tall building in its own right, but no match for the Shard, which rises an amazing 310 metres. However, perspective plays with the mind here as the Shard is further away, allowing the old factory to dominate once again.
This Victorian urban factory is usefully situated near to the railway station for transport of goods and really gives an insight into Victorian life. You can just imagine the workers hauling up raw materials to the top of the building using the pulleys whilst others toiled in the dim light inside the building. I really wish we could see inside.
3. Crucifix Lane meets Druid Street
Further along the London Bridge railway elevation we have some interesting urban decay to explore. Crucifix Lane runs parallel to the railway bridge as it comes out of London Bridge and is (currently) wonderfully un-modernised right the way along from Bermondsey Street onwards. It then sweeps underneath the bridge where it joins the fantastically named Druid Street.
And what a meeting that is, full of years of dripping rainwater staining down the brickwork, urban pollution and graffiti. The result is a patina of brickwork and moss just crying out to be captured in this urban greeting card. I hope you'll agree that this is exactly what I have done here, celebrating these maturing aspects of the Victorian age.
I really hope this part of London remains untouched. It is beautiful just the way it is. That said, the boarded-up archways along Crucifix Lane could probably do with some more shops.
4. Graffiti beneath London Bridge railway line
Just along Crucifix Lane, as it opens out to meet Druid Street, you might spot a skateboard area and accompanying graffiti, which makes a wonderful urban image.
The area is surrounded by metal fencing but it is possible to peep inside if you are careful. The local kids have found a great haven to practise undisturbed here. As we move further out of London Bridge the number of occupied railway arches diminishes, providing a great opportunity for some creative thinking that is also away from the tourists.
I'm sadly a bit too old to jump over the metal railings, but I was able to capture this image between the gaps! To me this greeting card is the epitome of what is urban. Again I just hope it remains like this, which to be fair it probably will as there is not much demand for development under this section of the bridge.
5. A great Southwark boozer
Just off Borough High Street, hidden down Newcomen Street, there is a pub with an interesting history (thankfully it is now open again too following Lockdown!). The street was called Kings Street from 1774, probably when the pub would have taken this name. It changed to Newcomen street in 1879.
Just take a look at that breathtaking coat of arms above the door with the lion and unicorn, dating from about 1728. It's quite something! Would you believe that it originally came from the old London Bridge? That's not the bridge that was demolished and then rebuilt in Arizona. We are talking about the earlier bridge that had stood since medieval times and which, indeed, was constantly falling down! The South Gate entrance to the bridge was famous for its spiked traitors' heads poking up on top, including that of William Wallace, Oliver Cromwell and John Cade (this practice thankfully ended in 1678). It also originally held this very coat of arms. When the approach to the bridge was widened in 1760, the date and the "GIII R" were added to the coat of arms and it was relocated to the original pub on this street. I just can't believe how the unicorn's horn hasn't snapped off at some point in the past!
6. Victorian warehouse door in Southwark
There is so much colour around Southwark. Some of the buildings might be old, but there is no denying how rich and colourful they are. Take this old warehouse door. Just breathe in that richness of old orange and pink paint, flaking beautifully. It's almost like a flavoured ice-cream - peach and raspberry, perhaps?
Just imagine how often this door was used to collect or to deliver products. There is one door for each floor of the building and at the very top there is a pulley system to help manoeuvre the items. It's been a while since this one was last opened probably, but it is doing pretty well just how it is. I just hope that it is not subsequently modernised, although it is true that this wonderful building could perhaps be used to provide useful housing.
Should we convert all our industrial heritage buildings into accommodation? Let me know in the comments below what you think.
7. Modernity at Tate Modern
Not everything in Southwark is old and decrepit! There are some amazing examples of contemporary architecture too. In fact it is the contrast that I think makes the area so special. This is a close view of Tate Modern at Bankside. It has the familiar hue of the local brick but it is certainly new. This honeycomb-type effect is actually a skin that covers the main concrete core of the building, which in itself is a very unusual shape.
The Switch House was added as an extension to the original 1930s Bankside power station that originally opened as Tate Modern in the year 2000. This modern architecture is the design of Herzog & de Meuron. It certainly adds a new dimension to the area and complements the original building perfectly.
8. Victorian railway bridges
An imposing blue cast iron railway bridge juts out from behind a large and quite ornate brick support with some added graffiti on the side. Below that a Georgian whitewashed house looks quite smart. That was actually restored a couple of years ago (in fact we have a superbly urban greeting card for sale depicting the original building, Devonshire House). To the left is a wooden entrance to what is now a bit of a cultural hub, Flat Iron Square, where you can usually find open air drinking, eateries, live music and flea markets.
It is quite incredible how Southwark has transformed its urban image over the past few years. These buildings were previously quite derelict. As much as I am hesitant about the gentrification of the area, sometimes the end result is worth applauding. If it makes unused buildings have a purpose then there is indeed merit to that. Let me know what you think!
9. Decorators on Great Suffolk Street
This shot came about quite by chance as I walked down Great Suffolk Street one day on my way to Blackfriars Railway Station. I was struck by the composition of the decorators on their scaffold dressed in fluorescent, painting the period building in white. They were doing rather a good job of it too!
You might ask yourself what the name Suffolk is doing in Southwark. It's not a misspelling - there is a correct association here. That association is with Suffolk Palace that stood opposite Borough Tube Station during the reign of Henry VIII. It's owner, Charles Brandon, was the Duke of Suffolk after supporting Henry in his military campaigns and being rewarded with the title. I have written about this fascinating story, and the incredible house that once stood on Borough High Street. In those days the area around Borough High Street was fields and orchards, not the urban metropolis it is today. There is an interesting history to this area which you can explore for free after reading my blog about what was the Liberty of the Mint. Take a look and let me know what you think!
10. Urban buildings in use today
I love this building. It is in an area that I would consider the heart of Southwark. The area is a mixture of original 19th and early 20th century buildings, and also the occasional Art Deco building such as this. At least I think it is Art Deco - although those red frames and darkened-windows look remarkably like 80s design.
Southwark was heavily bombed during the war, so it is great that these streets survived. All Hallows church, which I have previously talked about, is actually in the same area. Walking around really is an urban-lover's dream.
To get there take a turn off Southwark Bridge Road into Sawyer Street and follow this road round. Take some time to explore the streets that come off Sawyer Street, including Copperfield Street, Pepper Street, Loman Street and Risborough Street.
What is so good about urban greeting cards anyway?
I've previously written about why I think so many greeting cards are boring. The facts still remain that it is not always easy to find cerebral photographic greetings cards that are more than a closeup of a flower or a landscape during sunset. Urban greeting cards provide a bit of social commentary that can be shared with the receiver.
I don't presume to think that everyone will find Billington Pix greetings cards favourable, but at least they are trying to provide a message. That message is simple: these wonderful urban locations, not just in Southwark, but most urban environments, are under threat. They have a richness and a history, but more often than not they also have a poverty that is impossible to shake off without regeneration. Sometimes regeneration can be a good thing, to be fair. If an urban area is deprived, and could benefit from an injection of capital investment to provide an economic boost, then why not? All too often, however, this simply means that, once the commercial centres or the luxury accommodations are built, this then pushes out the local people who simply can't afford to shop or live there. It might also push out the local businesses too if they cannot afford the new higher rents. If regeneration and gentrification is done well, however, this can be amazing. I'd be really keen to know what your thoughts are about the regeneration of Southwark that has taken place over the past twenty years. Let me know in the comments below.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. If you enjoyed it, please be sure to share it with friends and colleagues. And please be sure to take care of your own local community. When they're gone, they're gone.
Try our suggested other things to do in Southwark!
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