Ready, steady, go!!
A remarkable scene on the Thames when Rob Powell captured this unique event at his home town Gravesend. It takes a practiced eye and a lot of luck with a sunny September day to be there, but his knowledge is topped up each day to access what’s happening on our river. His photos of Gloriana, the Queen’s Row Barge, at the Magna Carta celebrations at Runnymede made the front page of the Times. His annual calendars have become a collectors’ favourite.
The bright red lightship usually based on the Medway was towed down to Gravesend Pier for a river festival. The paddle steamer Waverley from the Clyde has been an annual treat for thousands as she cruises around the UK coast each summer and still thrills me day or night as she flap-flaps past our Greenwich house with her powerful paddles. Just behind Waverley a white car transporter can also be spotted as she plies her trade exporting and importing brand new cars and trucks from a pier at the entrance to Tilbury Docks, which now boasts a new wind-powered generator.
My idea of having Gloriana, the Queen’s Row Barge, to winter at Greenwich fell upon deaf ears. By chance she did, indeed, pass last winter on the PLA’S wharf/dock at Denton just a mile or so downstream on the Kentish marshes. To have a light ship moored in Deptford Creek at Dowells Wharf would be another maritime attraction for our Royal Borough – very fitting too as she was one of many guarding our shipways provided by Trinity House who were founded at Deptford Strand, just across the Creek, in 1527! The light ship ‘Gannet’, also based on the Medway, is also on the market and would provide a splendid spectacle illuminating this fast-developing maritime scene moored alongside Waitrose – what a treat!!
Historical footnote: As I write, a Russian battle flotilla headed by their only aircraft carrier smokes its way down the English Channel – including the cruiser Peter the Great. Yes, I remember seeing a Russian destroyer visiting Greenwich anchored just here when the statue of Peter the Great was unveiled by President Putin!!