For centuries Londoners have had the expertise of teaching hospitals on their riverside ‘doorstep’, and nowadays the angst of public transport to and fro has been much alleviated by the regular timetabling of Thames Clippers.
Fortunate Greenwich folk can now travel by river to adjacent piers at Guys and St. Thomas’ – the London Eye return trip, bouncing over the tideway, instantly relieves the high pressure in clinics and around the wards. Of course, in the old days, medicine was dispensed in the floating hulks and at special hospitals for seamen too. Seafarers were somewhat prone to the oddest of complaints; it doesn’t seem that long ago that one saw dressing gowned ‘matelots’ taking the air at the Dreadnought Seamen’s Hospital ashore at King William Walk – now being further upgraded for University use. Let’s hope the historic ceramic panels are retained recording the donors of old.
My dear wife Judy had patiently waited a good five months for her hip replacement, booked in to the orthopaedic department of Guys and St. Thomas, all now part of the Kings’ empire. Amazingly controlled in spite of the Junior Doctors strike, I have never seen such busy wards humming with youngsters glued to their computer screens like bees at a hive!! My poor old bones also received a knee replacement some years ago next door at London Bridge private hospital where my cross-river view was along the site of the medieval bridge crossing into the City. Now days the Shard and the massive redevelopment of the LB station dominates the once historic Southwark scene – poor old Shakespeare would have a fit!!
With sketch book to hand, I popped into the Bridge-side Fullers pub ‘The Barrow Boy and Banker’, a vast Edwardian decorate folly with a mural of the Charge of the Light Brigade, frequented by an amazing cross-section of folk who even breakfasted here. Since the opening of Fullers new riverside pub in Greenwich, I have been busy investigating numerous riverside locations which I hope to illustrate at my leisure (their coffee is excellent too!). A quaint corner view of Southwark Cathedral intrigued, so a return to the Harvard Chapel there was part of my treatment too!
Judy’s return from Guys by ambulance car coincided with a fleet of incoming Dutch pilot boats – motorised yachts which give much pleasure to their pensioner owners who are able to use the extensive waterways of the low countries to cruise at will.
Also ‘L’Austral’ – a mid-size cruise ship bearing a French tricolour but registered in Malta kicked off the new season too. My good Gravesend friend had forewarned me of her up Thames passage to moorings up at the Pool.
Riverwatch is now taking a month’s leave!