Whizz Bang Wollop

Rockets sped through the air above the West India Dock entrance to the Thames – a ship in distress?  The red flares illuminated the shoreline buildings across to the great white whale of the O2.  Strange, heart-shaped sparklers were whipped away by the gale as the display broke out in full glory – oh no, just some bright spark who had dreamed up this Valentine display high above the famous Gun pub. 

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How the pyrotechnists created such an illusion is another trade secret – perhaps from the Orient where Chinese New Year is really taken seriously over the splendid Bund overlooking Shanghai’s new wonder city, as the bright pink clouds sped over Blackwall where ships bound for the Orient were built and nurtured.  The East India Company’s enterprise built the first massive ship building complex with a giant mast crane housed in a landmark building which, like Canary Wharf’s One Canada Square, could be seen for miles.  Romance was certainly in the air this Friday night!!  Perhaps the mood had been set that morning when the Othens and Kents were shown over Trinity House’s amazing HQ high on Tower Hill – certainly the most palatial maritime HQ in the City, abounding in fine paintings, ship models, statuary and the like.  Eager to extend my foray into the wonders of Trinity House’s diverse activities, I hastened back to amend and update themes depicted in last month’s  exhibition at the The Greenwich Gallery, enthused by what Trinity House had been at these last 500 years!

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Talking of enterprises in East Greenwich, I must report on an exhibition to take place this Thursday and Friday at The Forum @ Greenwich, opening between 3 – 7.  News from London and Regional Properties that their planning application to build three high-rise apartment blocks with four seven-storey attachments has been dropped, as per illustration.  Local pressure groups felt that the sensitive Ballast Quay scenario would have been dwarfed.  A visit to the atmospheric Cutty Sark pub there would illuminate their concern.  An invitation has been issued to view their exhibition to be held at Christchurch Forum on 19th/20th February between 3 and 7.  It was at this venue that I heard Ralph Erskine, the renowned architect from Sweden, express his design philosophy on exposed sites.  His masterplan for the Millenium Village dealt with extremes of the British weather.  How right he was.  His Newcastle scheme at  Byker showed the way but, alas, his concept has been dumbed down – look out for more high risers!!  The overall planning for new residential and business schemes planned to be of a similar density to Marylebone’s West End area has been retrieved at the revised Lovells Wharf proposal.

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The architectural quality of residential schemes to the East and West of Greenwich town centre is surprisingly upmarket compared to their maritime industrial predecessors.  I await to comment on the University School of Architecture opposite the unimaginative newish hotel;  and again for the Norman Road Creekside schemes, which will transform this part of town.

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About RiverWatch returns

Peter Kent shares his Thames riverside studio viewpoint

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