A wintery Easter Tide
Coinciding with the lowest of tides, a group dressed in wet suits gathered at the waterline and, after much discussion, cast a net in to the briney at its lowest point of the ebb tide and then hoisted ashore their catch – a pair of Dace which they inspected minutely through their magnifying lens, and retreated back to the sandy beach line for an even closer inspection. Suddenly I recalled that last year a similar visiting team from the Zoological Society in Regents Park. As curious as ever, I challenged the picnic party who reaffirmed that a monthly inspection will be played when the water gets warmer!
Another unusual sighting was the passage of a grey patrol boat from the border patrol? This time of a rib design which would permit shallow water operation. The three-deck bridge carried radar domes and aerials ready for instant detection. Alas, I couldn’t spot any other identification.
A more familiar craft under way was a floating ‘conservatory’ restaurant based near Charing Cross; this time stripped of tables and chairs and, of course, dining guests, she was bound for a boatyard somewhere to undergo a refit. Also back on the tideway after the Easter break, a purposeful tug-like tender suitable for moving mechanical plant on and off the various construction sites which serve the Tideway tunnelling enterprise.
A further piscatorial thought comes to mind that – even today- Deptford Creek plays an important role as a nursery for many new fishy residents in its mile-long course through Greenwich up to Deptford Bridge. Years ago the famous Parliamentary Whitebait Feasts were held at my neighbouring Trafalgar Tavern, supplied by local fishermen who once harvested the local Thames speciality as well as eels, much loved by Cockneys of old!
Alas, fishing fleets were forced to move from these polluted waters up to Grimsby and fishing grounds as far away as the cod-rich Newfoundland Banks. Also on this falling tide, ‘Bert Prior’ coaster leaves the Norman Road Brewery Wharf aggregate depot bound for its replenishment pier just downstream of Gravesend and, of course, tug-handled barges full of London’s rubbish bound for the Cross Ness treatment plants and landfill sites. Inbound, up river, fuel tankers creep upstream to dodge under the bridges to refuel their working craft and houseboat customers.