New life for Enderby

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A flotilla of yellow canoes from the London Kayak Company cross the main tideway with a startled cormorant taking flight.  Fourteen paddles ease their way up stream under the constant watch of two custodians in their own single-seater craft.  Each pair of paddlers appear to be full of confidence and no doubt have been fully instructed before they set out.  Their departure points seem varied as I have seen them being towed by their ‘mother boat’.  I have been somewhat surprised at dusk to see a flotilla of smaller canoes ground onto our firm beach at low tide.  The crews disappear into the local hostelry clad in their wet suits, with much surprise.  Upon departure at dusk, their twinkling riding lights add to the romance of Greenwich Reach.  The bright Autumn Sunday afternoon was an ideal time to take the ease of this other river watch as they scan the ever-changing scene as lofty skyscrapers pop up, providing a spectacular change of scene.

Just before lunch we had driven down Christchurch Way to inspect the progress on Enderby Wharf which is nearing completion.  I was warmly greeted by a pretty receptionist yet again, as I have sketched the construction process.  I was particularly curious to see how the conservation of the historic Enderby House is progressing, with its adjoining pier and cable-loading gear echoing its earlier days of the Enderby whaling enterprise and manufacture of sub-sea cables.  It was the communications centre of both Empire and Commonwealth and, later, at the lead of global enterprises – a fascinating tale which deserves to be celebrated.  Perhaps an enterprising entrepreneur might exploit its potential as a tourist visitor venue to everyone’s advantage, alongside the promised cruise ship terminal – an added feature of the new housing source.

As I finish, three empty yellow kayaks return to base having deposited the paying punters on the beach adjacent to the Trafalgar Tavern.

As I muse the afternoon away, I admire the enterprise of the London Kayak operators as they tow their empty fleet back towards Enderby Wharf where they carry their craft ashore up the slippery wooden steps, once used by ferrymen who served the cable ships of yesteryear, manned by stalwart watermen including Bob Aynge – a Greenwich worthy and waterman who once maintained our deck in an amazing cavalier fashion.  Alas, no longer with us, he told the tales of Thameside to us newcomers in a language and style never to be forgotten.

Do pop down To Christchurch Way to view the various developments taking place – the reception at the Visitors’ Showhouse were more than welcoming.  It’s an opportunity to view a new world from the comfort of the first floor show suites.  The adjacent old press cuttings will give you an idea of the dramatic changes to expect along the Thames Path as it threads its way around the Greenwich Peninsula.

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About RiverWatch returns

Peter Kent shares his Thames riverside studio viewpoint

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