The Thames at night
On a calm night the tideway is a sparkle of lights which are ever-increasing as high rise developments and their cranes are clearly marked, alive with lights of all colours reflected in the still waters, unblemished in the early hours when there is little or no river traffic. But be surprised how late party boats ply their trade and how early the fast ferries start again, the earliest being the commuter run downstream from Putney to Blackfriars Pier with stops at Battersea etc. It’s a long haul from their base at Trinity Buoy Wharf just opposite the O2 which in itself is a lively landmark for incoming pilots as its pylons sparkle with light and the giant canopy usually shines away up until midnight.
Looking both up and down the tideway, fast track developments are soon alive with lights beaming down from their lofty heights. What a difference when we first came here to our riverside house when darkness reigned before the rise of Canary Wharf, when only the occasional epic floodlighting of the Royal Naval College and perhaps the lofty mast of the Cutty Sark pierced the sky.
Now the catamaran ferries and faster craft flash warning lights as they speed up the tidal reaches. Likewise, flashing blue lights denote the River Police, RNLI Rescue and perhaps the Harbour Master on patrol. Incoming aircraft’s navigational and cabin lights rotate round the O2 as they descend on their flight paths towards the overcrowded air space of Heathrow and beyond. Helicopters are a bane as they are forced to follow the tortuous tideway awaiting air space to cross the capital, the heavy military whirlies often have to circulate around the Park or Blackheath to await their traffic control clearance. The recent dramatic O2 illuminations present themselves to incoming aircraft; passengers must be thrilled to see this landmark welcome to London!! Sited right on the Prime Meridian – a navigator’s dream!