The sands of time – did Trump ever visit his new embassy?
Witness the contented chug of the crusty old coaster ‘James Prior’ as she slipped down into the tideway having navigated under the Deptford Creek Road lift bridge where she earlier had delivered to Brewery Wharf a cargo of freshly-washed sea aggregate from her base downstream of Gravesend.
A larger craft dredges this cargo out of the Thames Estuary to the end of Walshes’ Pier where it is scrubbed clean and loaded into this tiny coaster which has traded for 9 years, mostly out of Prior’s extensive sand pit on Colchester’s historic river. Romans and the Dutch once traded here – my home town. ‘James Prior’ follows the tradition of delivering the essential ingredient to concrete wharves up and down the tideway for their insatiable appetite. Alas, their tall, elegant dockland crane has just disappeared to be replaced with a yellow painted mechanical grabber.
Likewise up in Battersea and Cringle Wharf, new arrangements had to be made to accommodate Trump’s Thames Tower for the US embassy. (The once twin cranes also have been booted out and shipped downstream to be refurbished and, hopefully, to be reinstalled).
(Photo by PK when last in Manhattan – donkey years ago!)
Earlier this year I made my first sighting of the new US embassy built on the South Bank in a once-industrial and market area across the river from the Chelsea Embankment, with its palatial apartment blocks – many owned by Arab entrepreneurs around fashionable Pimlico. The significant new US tower block provides excellent views onto elegant Chelsea and Westminster beyond, onto the New Covent Garden fruit market and a multiplicity of rail tracks.
On the exterior, large sail-like screens obscure the office floors from public gaze and from surrounding buildings and sun glare. My light-hearted sketches are based on images kindly supplied by visitors on an official tour. The new building echoes the spacious layout of the previous Grosvenor Square edifice which I was privileged to view upon its opening back in the fifties. I am told there is a north aspect viewing balcony for the Ambassador and those who wish to inspect Westminster and the MI5 HQs in nearby Vauxhall!
Did the President go south of the river? (Not his style, perhaps!!).