June is bursting out all over
The remarkable changes to the Greenwich waterfront will become even more apparent when the new Waitrose store opens in Creek Road. A new waterside promenade will surprise if not shock Greenwich folk who are familiar with the working wharves of yesteryear.
The last working shipyard run by Pope & Bond has long gone – the once ‘open top’ lighters have been replaced by a containerised rubbish system and the services of a slipway are no longer required. (Did you know that a cross river horse ferry once operated from here?)
I can vividly remember sharing the first floor view at Wood Wharf across the working yard armed with a mug of steaming tea – the ‘Swiftstone’ tug was purchased by a trust for £1 and lay alongside another oldie – the ‘Massey Shaw’ fire tender – mine hosts, now long retired, will be relieved to know that both vessels are being well looked after by volunteers elsewhere. Tony Othen and yours truly recently visited Trinity Buoy Wharf to find a working party hard at it sprucing up the ‘Swiftstone’ at their Leamouth creekside wharf. Here a visitor can view London’s only lighthouse – a light ship and the working base for the successful Thames Clipper fast ferry service. These slick Australian catamarans, however, have to go down to Chatham’s historic dockyards to have their annual MOT and corporate colour scheme maintained – there being no appropriate facilities on the Thames!
Even further afield the ‘Massey Shaw’ is being refurbished down at Gloucester’s historic dock. Once maintained by Fire Brigade volunteers at Wood Wharf she is due to be trucked back to the Thames this summer. Alas she missed participating in the joyous Thames Diamond Jubilee River Pageant. Darren Knight, the appointed PLA River Manager, has kindly sent me a copy of the PLA report that skillfully summarises the event from concept to actual event on June 3rd last year. I feel extremely fortunate to have been involved in preparing planning sketches along with numerous views of that extraordinary event which will be long remembered by all who enjoyed the majestic occasion – a dream which actually became reality and another chapter in ‘liquid history’ [see http://www.peterkentgreenwich.co.uk]
Re reading this piece I must not forget to remind readers that Deptford Creek is still a working port – a daily service to the concrete plant at Brewery Wharf in Norman Road brings golden sand from Prior’s Pits at Fingringhoe on Colchester’s River Colne. I feel all is well with the world when I hear the sturdy little coasters chug by. These craft have their annual overhaul at Rochester’s Acorn Wharf – how spick and span they look as they leave the Medway and cross the busy Thames estuary utilising channel ways used by ancient mariners for donkeys’ years – chug chug chug.