Tall Ship weekend
Our ‘Tall Ship Pop-up Show’ mounted around our front door – my pre-prepared sketches attracted maritime types who had strolled along our beflagged Crane Street section of the Thames Path, which was dressed overall. We were delighted to meet Polish supporters of the gleaming white ‘Dar Mlodziezy’, which was moored up at ‘Tall Ship Island’, and had come over from Gdynia Maritime University to see their pride and joy in London’s river. I was given a useful handbook published by Thames Clippers to accompany their guests, which I had illustrated. Greenwich, with its university and the National Maritime Museum makes a fascinating place for a weekend break. A young Russian couple also purchased some of my postcards to send home. I pointed them up river to see the monument of Peter the Great at the head of Deptford Creek, who had a commanding view of the adjacent anchorage; also the continuous stream of tall ships passing upstream on an hourly basis.
A steady flow of clippers served Tall Ship Island from London Bridge City Pier and Greenwich Pier. I welcome their enterprise to create such a project – dare I hope for more enterprises of this ilk? Our usual tripper boats plied their trade and also added evening trips to view the nightly illuminated Parade of Sail which followed the extraordinary firework display. Floodlit London is really magnificent, to be enjoyed by visitors and also by those families who live in and around London town.
Another enthusiastic couple from Kingston up Hull returned to view the old working river. Recollections of his time as a member of the crew of a regular Dutch coaster that came up to Tunnel Refineries and also to the scrap yards at Crowley Wharf brought disbelief to see the disappearance of the once-working wharves scattered around our borough. I was able to express my appreciation for the Dutch organisation to have masterminded such a wonderful weekend, of course, with on-shore promotion by the Royal Borough of Greenwich, the PLA and our local watermen who worked the moorings.
The Sunday crowds turning up to savour this unique maritime occasion also cheered the departing participants of the Round the World Yacht Race as they motored downstream in convoy prior to sailing around the world. The grey old day contrasted with their flying, colourful banners and hull graphics which would have been well enjoyed by those down at Woolwich Arsenal, the venue hosting the main tall ship fleet alongside the historic waterfront with its gleaming new blocks of flats.
As I complete this diatribe, the fireworks organisers are preparing for their final fling before the fleets’ Bank Holiday Monday departure. We are all looking forward to seeing the complete fleet sail off in the traditional manner.
Today’s Bank Holiday Monday brought heavy downpours and our pedestrianised Crane Street became a no-go area due to blocked drains caused by our adjacent cottages being refurbished. The dug out mortar still had life in it as it sealed drainage along this historic pathway. In vain were appeals to the Town Hall before the weekend and, of course, to the sub-contractors. But no need to worry as a flood warning from the environment agency owing to spring tides only added to the threat!! I was not pleased that yesterday’s crowds also got a drenching as they tried to navigate past the College’s Royal Gates. The Kiwi boys staying across the path had great fun as they experienced the excitement of living on the river – memories to take home to Granny!!