6 months in!! – a June report

Now that I have posted my 80th blog I thought it time to take a review of the River and the last 6 months.

The Thames is keeping up its reputation for an ever-changing scenario as the weather makes its mind up, but the tides come and go as ever.  Dare I say it, the river seems to be always in full spate – the thrashing into the shoreline seems rougher than usual;  could it be that the speed restrictions have been eased for the fast ferries which are even more frequent?  As the year wears on, the once hidden mooring infrastructure is being exposed, and limits of the upstream Tudor land stage become more evident. This applies within the Pool of London too as even more defences are being added to the Tower of London’s river line.

Meanwhile, downstream of the Old Royal Naval College, the once busy wharves and industrial buildings are under development pressures.  The giant cable works and the towering refinery silos have all been reduced to rubble.  Morden Wharf still stands, its flank wall defines the overall depth of the once sugar refiners, all awaiting the development of a cruise ship terminal and a hotel which I fear may be even more delayed.  If you remember, the mecca of the first proposed cruise liner terminal at the traditional deep water ship mooring at the entrance to Deptford Creek went into limbo too.  I bet it becomes a giant housing development too!!  Any rate, I never thought such a tourist attraction would ever happen as passengers on cruise ships want to be in Central London with all its wonders.  An arrival into East Greenwich is far from glamorous, especially as access routes are already over-trafficked.  However, I can just remember the James Mackay – a giant white cable laying ship which used to lie just off-shore – loading cross-ocean cable made just here.  Remains of the circular loading gear can still be seen on the pier.  Enderby House, the fine listed building, still survives while the adjacent office building and the boiler house and chimney have been demolished.  Unable to stagger that far, I am reliant on my trusty binoculars to keep an eye on things.  Surprisingly, I spotted a British Rail coach off its track, parked here for use as a canteen or such.

The new, purpose-built marine slipway and boat house still remain unused, erected for the existing shipyard sited just upstream which is supposed to have moved here to permit even further development on Lovells Wharf.  During site preparation a medieval tide mill, believed to have been Flemish, was discovered here, giving local historians food for thought!  It was extraordinary how much was left intact – I really must find out further details.  Perhaps it might have been part of a mill which has been relocated.  Mary Mills and Julian Watson no doubt have further detail as their knowledge of the peninsula is amazing.  I can well remember the bright green coasters from Ireland mooring under the giant silos which carried the maize across the river path into the extensive glucose plant.  Another occasional visitor was an oil tanker which came alongside on occasions to supply local industry.  I await to read Mary’s latest treatise which she intends to put to press.

Riverside walkers will also be tempted to visit Ballast Quay gardens – a unique horticultural enterprise which will be open this weekend as part of the National Garden Scheme.  See the information herewith.  May I suggest a stroll there and beyond to witness old Greenwich before the developers remove all its industrial past.

6 months in001click on image to enlarge


About RiverWatch returns

Peter Kent shares his Thames riverside studio viewpoint

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