New Year 2015
London celebrated the New Year with a bang in great style. The firework display was mounted from the South Bank and from on board lighters moored midstream. The whole display was viewed from the Westminster Embankment for the fortunate ticket holders and for the world’s TV media, fired off just as Big Ben struck the magic hour. The magnificent array of fireworks spinning off the London Eye could never be bettered. The Thames has indeed become a significant venue for celebrations, and vivid memories were fired off again as we recalled the Queen’s Jubilee, followed by Royal Greenwich celebrating the Tall Ships manoeuvring in the river just off the Royal Naval College on four consecutive evenings back in September – perhaps these were rehearsals for their grander global occasion?
2015 will bring even more Thameside celebrations commemorating the Magna Carta signing in Runnymede’s riverside pastures. The promise of a two-day voyage of ‘Gloriana’, the Royal Row Barge, escorted by watermen’s cutters and skiffs will provide a photographic and TV opportunity for thousands lined along the Thames Path from Hurley to Penton Hook – some 25 miles , passing by Cookham, Maidenhead, Windsor, Eton and Staines. Watch this blog as plans evolve. The Magna Carta 800th River Relay will take place on 13th and 14th June 2015 – mark your diaries now!! I am busy drawing the route map now!
Another great celebration to be held in glorious June will be the bringing of the news to the capital of Wellington’s success at Waterloo 200 years ago. A cross-channel re-enactment will be seen in Broadstairs, and ceremonies are planned from Canterbury along Watling Street (the A2) to Greenwich, the City of London and into the West End, with a military procession down Regent Street to St. James Square where a Regency Fair will be held. Numerous other relevant occasions will celebrate throughout Europe by military and civilian enthusiasts commemorating freedom from Napoleonic threats.
Back to Greenwich, and ‘Gloriana’, the new state barge, will no doubt feature if she attracts sponsorship to keep her weatherproof and mobile. This amazing craft is seeking a new base, and I feel Greenwich could well add to it’s maritime attractions by offering a suitable purpose-built floating dock which could be towed off to venues up and down the Thames – bridges and tidal conditions permitting. The essential crews, of course, will have to be trained. Greenwich Reach has centres at the Ahoy, the Blackwall RC on the Isle of Dogs with training facilities at Millwall Dock, and the two clubs next door, The Globe and Curlew, at Highbridge Wharf for tidal training with their ready-made sporting facilities.
I heard through the grapevine that a certain local chief executive was ‘rowed out’ in ‘Gloriana’ as his final fling –manned by oarsmen from our local clubs.
Meanwhile, the Thames returns to normality. I spotted the ‘Nore’, the Port of London’s Royal Barge launch, heading downstream to the PLA’s Denton Wharf at Gravesend – perhaps for a spring clean. The ‘Nore’ plays an important role in ceremonial occasions and for high level corporate and state events. As dawn breaks, swarms of seagulls commute upstream, flying in squadrons low to the tideway in hope of more rich pickings in the City! I also note the river bin men in their purpose-built craft loaded to the gunnels with party boats’ garbage from their river moorings up west! – and the seasonal sight of abandoned Christmas trees being cleared up by our bin men rather than being dumped into the tideway as per the norm!