Drawn to the UK by a weakening pound, hordes of tourists have hit London Town. Nowhere better to see this than at Westminster Bridge Pier, where the photo opportunities are at their most inviting as crowds pass through the Bridge and river pier, where tourist boats gather to convey passengers to view London’s most eclectic landmarks from the upper decks’ elevated viewpoints. In particular, the unexpected view of Big Ben, now clad in a gigantic network of heavy-duty scaffolding which is likely to obscure the Palace of Westminster from public view – no folks, nothing to do with the gunpowder plot or the drama of Brexit which might well last for ever!!
The capital, however, is changing rapidly as large-scale civil engineering projects are taking place on and under the river. Giant tunnels are being built under the tideway, with huge depots built to convey new materials and spoil serviced by a new breed of strange looking tugs and cranes. The only way to see this enterprise is from a passenger craft. City Cruises run a fleet between Westminster and Greenwich; the open top deck provides that opportunity for iconic panoramas of Old Father Thames and the brash new high-rise structures on both sides of the river, all at a reasonable pace. The speedier Thames Clippers glide past at a rate of knots in an enclosed environment not dissimilar to the comforts of an airliner! However, lofty cranes show the hot spots of construction. The now-familiar high rise landmarks are being obscured by even more projects as far downstream as Woolwich, while upstream we see similar blights to the bucolic tideway as far as Battersea and Chelsea – go and explore!
The Thames sailing barge ‘Will’ slips downstream as elegantly as the feeding swans – what a contrast! ‘Mein Schiff 3’ arriving at Tilbury’s Cruise Ship Terminal, as reported in my recent ‘Riverwatch’.
Meanwhile, no news on the proposed Terminal downstream from Greenwich – handling the numbers of passengers into Central London could be a problem.