The Greenwich Peninsula – the old and the new
Who can remember going down to the Greenwich Yacht Club way out on the marshes of the Greenwich Peninsula? A forlorn collection of old industrial buildings which hugged the shoreline of Bugsby’s Reach. There in the shadow of a great power station with its coaling pier was a slipway at Mudlarks Way which provided a fairly reasonable access into the tideway. A collection of huts and sheds provided keen yachtsmen a primitive yacht club and a yard to work on their treasured craft during the winter months to be ready for the far off summer season.
A cluster of club moorings lay off a shambolic pier downstream towards a series of ballast quays which still survive today. If I rightly recall, there was a large Redpath Brown Dorman Long steel depot amongst an estate of industrial buildings and a railway bridge which led into the vast East Greenwich Gas works. Still surviving at Ceylon Place is a renowned watering hole and essential haven for the watermen, lightermen and gas workers. The Pilot Inn is in a green oasis just off the main vehicle access towards the O2, and set in the Lower Riverside residential development. ‘Aperture’ and ‘The Fulmar’ can also be reached on the Thames Path in the newly developed Parkside.
The Pilot, one of Fullers historic houses, has always offered a good pint in a congenial setting in its newly devised, cobbled cul-de-sac part of a Victorian workers terrace – once at the heart of a working community alas long gone. The industrial hub of East Greenwich has been replaced by a series of warehouse and retail estates, where once electrical engineering giants ruled the world.
Having escaped from the Saturday shop, we arrived at the ‘Pilot’ in its Autumn glory. Alas the gorgeous sun was too low to penetrate the enclosed rear garden, so we grabbed a table with an amazing view over the tree-lined Riverside Park which stretches out towards the O2, providing Greenwich with yet another eclectic park, newly bordered with apartment blocks and a pair of high risers which provide many riverine views as the Thames twists and turns on its way to the capital.
Our chosen table was in the parlour, just where the genial landlord was welcoming weekend guests in a most friendly manner, in spite of being too early arrivals. It was fascinating to meet folk from the provinces who had chosen this isolated pub to enjoy the extensive Halloween pleasures which the O2 and the new and historic Greenwich now offer. Meanwhile we tucked into our Sea Bream with gusto, their freshness remarkable with a touch of garlic in the accompanying salad. The ‘Pilot’ attracts a regular clientele, just a ten minute stroll from the new business sector adjacent to North Greenwich interchange and further afield, who seek the traditional cuisine and pub atmosphere.
The peninsula boasts two other hotels – The Holiday Inn Express just off the main highway linking the A102 to Greenwich Peninsula also has a thriving Chinese Dim Sum restaurant on the ground floor. Meantime Brewery has relocated into Blackwall Lane now under new ownership; this enterprising concern has opened a new sampling venue which is proving to be a great draw to craft beer enthusiasts. At the other end of the spectrum, bang next door to the O2, a brand new five star hotel is nearing completion with 453 rooms across 16 of its 18 floors, two restaurants and an amazing ballroom, ideal for international conferences which will compete with the best that the West End can offer. It’s only 20 minutes away on the Jubilee Line, with the adjacent North Greenwich interchange close by and with direct links to Crossrail and City Airport too!!