Amazing new spring growth along the Marathon route…


…after a long, enduring spring which hid our lofty neighbours over in Canary Wharf from view.  The low clouds and mist enwrapped even the tallest construction cranes, their essential navigational highlights only just visible!  Flights in and out of London City Airport were cancelled, emphasising the isolation of the Isle of Dogs from its partners – thanks goodness for Eurotunnel.

Well, hoorah!  Today spring matured into summer, just in time for the Marathon when the world gasps with delight as TV follows the runners through the capital’s green, tree-lined avenues and parks.

Aerial views of the capital intrigue one and all, as they thread through and over some amazing landmarks.  The O2, sited on the Prime Meridian, is indeed the superb landmark for passengers lucky enough to have window seats if approaching from the East.  I was, indeed, lucky to be invited up front with the pilot to follow our passage over the Thames inbound from the Continent, reminding me how the Luftwaffe navigators found London such an easy target during the Blitz.  The devastated docks, in fact, helped the birth and development of this new trading post, as did the East India Company of old.  The Royal Docks have at last attracted the expected development   For the curious an outing by DLR to Beckton or, indeed, Woolwich will easily reveal City Airport’s recent extensions.  Arrivals and departures are best viewed from East London’s University Dockside campus, easily reached at Beckton Park station.  A stroll along the Heron Quays will also amaze, as development to the East and West have nearly doubled the Canary Wharf Estate.

I can’t believe it’s over thirty years ago that I first saw the test flight onto Heron Quay initiated by Reg Ward, the LDDC’s first Chief Executive.  The ‘touch-and-go’ exercise was backed by Mowlems who financed and built the City Airport complex in the Royal Docks just where my sailor brother John’s Royal Mail ship ‘Loch Ryan’ used to unload Argentinian beef!!  Vivid memories of the working ‘Royals’ where ships were loaded with export, moored stem to stern with fleets of lighters and Thames Sailing Barges in attendance.

Nowadays fleets of incoming and outgoing aircraft join the merry-go-round provided by the O2 landmark with its great white Dome as they align for Heathrow, while City-bound aircraft make their final approach with flaps and wheels primed for landing.  Departing aircraft climb at full power to clear Canary Wharf’s lofty towers.

A thrilling flight on the Emirates Airline cable car provides similar exciting views which I ‘highly’ recommend.  A return trip will permit wonderful river and dockland panoramas as you cross high above the River Thames.

I helped illustrate Reg Ward’s dreams of even more Thameside developments down at Tilbury, which have been partly realised just before he passed away.

About RiverWatch returns

Peter Kent shares his Thames riverside studio viewpoint

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