Have you a head for heights?

Writing from Crane Street is very apt.  As though from an eyrie, I watch through my binoculars a tall and soon to be elegant construction jib crane. One needs time to monitor every phase of erection as the mobile crane hoists each part in the correct order to assemble in a confined space.

Head for Heights001

Looking at its neighbours would give a clue to the type of crane it will likely be. The one long lorry and trailer doesn’t usually have much space to manoeuvre in itself – so the order of unloading is also critical. No doubt the equivalent of a Meccano set of instructions is followed – the installation crew from the hire company have it all planned and slowly, like a dragon fly, the crane spreads its various jibs and sections.

For years since the Canary Wharf era of massive construction I have kept a weather eye out for the arrival of newcomers and surely the Greenwich waterfront has become a breeding place (in more ways than one) – a cluster of apartments have slotted in along creekside and river frontages.

A boat outing on the river really focusses the extraordinary development zones which waterside living has attracted.  The once forgotten industrial sites are becoming  thin on the ground as manon wants to realise its true value. Much of my earlier career was visualising how a new development would affect the local street scene – well before the planners and architects dream up the final scheme – alas, in my dotage, I have become hyper critical as offensive masses are slotted in without too much relevance to their neighbourhood.

Back to my Isle of Dogs crane which is growing as I write – a lazy afternoon watching each delicate move is much rewarding – excitement as the two engineers seem to be working in space moving higher and higher and further out, fixing the suspension wires so that the jib can swing at a touch of the operator in his elevated cabin.  Back in 1990 I was bemused to be able to record the sudden rush of lofty cranes which were imported from every corner of the globe to satisfy the Docklands demand.  While sketching away, a crane operator would come down from his lofty and isolated cabin to see what I was up to – their dreadful isolation and lack of conversation with those working below led to disbelief that I was drawing the rapidly changing scene for pleasure!!

I realise that this new pair of intruders to my usual river view will need further investigation – so I will break my usual DLR train journey at Island Gardens to see what is coming up!!.

About RiverWatch returns

Peter Kent shares his Thames riverside studio viewpoint

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