March Jottings from our waterfront
Signs of spring activity on the tideway
The ducks are out and about looking for suitable B&Bs and perhaps a suitable nesting place. It’s just as well, as we have been up to Thompson’s on Shooters Hill to top up the colour on our deck, also the tubs which grace our Crane Street frontage. The newly acquired ceramic pot has been planted with an architectural Bay tree – we just hope and pray it won’t go for walkies as we live not only on a doggie trail but runners gearing up for the marathon. Would you believe it, we have athletes pounding past well before dawn just as cyclist commuters speed on their way to the City.
Other cross river travellers include the green invasion force from the higher grounds of the park – the parakeets make survey sorties into Island Gardens chattering on their way. Gatherings of younger cormorants ascertain the quality of fish to be caught here in Greenwich Reach – newcomers will need to get their take off speed sorted to avoid the speedy Thames Clippers from gobbling them up. Fortunately their skippers don’t seem to be attracted to this sport, but drenching pedestrians at the top of the tide is another matter. Visitors beware as they admire the noble architectural scene which Christopher Wren bequeathed.
Signs of spring as well, as at the floating PLA Cruise Terminal and mooring buoys just off Deptford Creek are being scrubbed up for the incoming season of large ships which moor up here on their London visits.
A new footbridge is being built across the tideway at Creekmouth, so another link is being added to the popular Thames Path – also another hazard for Priors aggregate coasters just before they squeeze under the Creek Road lift bridge to their Norman Road base – alas, the last of trading ships to use the creek.
Reconstruction here about is plainly evident as once working wharves are being developed into yuppie dormitory blocks, some with striking, new, all glass façades which are surrounding the award-winning Laban Centre (well worth a visit!). The essential ration of balconies is satisfied for marketing purposes – just the place for barbecues and storage of bikes. Similar waterside schemes abound as even more high rise developments on Bugsby’s Reach are promised either side of Millennium Village down by Greenwich Yacht Club. A note from PLA has asked me about my views on a name change from Bugsby’s Reach to a celebratory name of Waterman’s Reach in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the 1514 Act of Parliament regulating watermen. By chance, I attended the monthly meeting of the Greenwich Industrial History Society where I aired this suggestion to the very people who are now actively involved in reviewing this stretch of tideway. Some felt that the name change was a marketing ploy as Waterman’s Reach sounded rather posher than Bugsby’s Reach. What price history these days?
It’s this very same stretch of the Thames which has seen the most dramatic revival of trade which my map illustrates. For the record, Mr. Bugsby happened to own a stretch of marshland which he farmed basically for silage and also as a nursery man. Mary Mills, who lives in Humber Road, has recorded all these changes from her lofty residence and written a series of booklets which I recommend.