Time Travel Explorer Blog

Millbank Tower...What Came Before?

by Matt Brown 10. November 2010 15:54

Millbank Tower in Westminster is very much in the news today, as students protest at the rise in tuition fees proposed by the Coalition government. A minority of those attending the rally have turned to violence, smashing windows and starting fires.

The tower itself was one of the tallest structures in London when it was first built in 1963. Then known as the Vickers Tower, it was the first major office tower in the capital. In recent years, it's dropped somewhat from public consciousness thanks to more shouty buildings like the Gherkin and the Shard. Today, it's right back in the news again.

But what was there before the office complex? Time Travel Explorer offers the perfect tool to find out. Here are views from 2010, 1862 and 1746.


The site of Millbank Tower, in 1862, is largely unmarked. It appears to be some kind of stone mason's yard. The most obvious feature, however, is the huge Millbank Penitentiary, a vast prison which held captives destined for deportation. The prison was demolished in 1890, but its outline can still be partly traced in the street layout of Pimlico. Further back, in 1746, and the area was all fields. Pimlico was a swampy hinterland with very little development.