An octogenarian river watcher reports yet again from his Greenwich eyrie
Unexpected swings of weather extremes are certainly making a mark as London, yet again, reacts to them. New panoramas open up as great storms rearrange the usual grey outlook which citizens associate with March, and spring threatens to burst upon us revealing storm-cleared vistas through the trees prior to the welcome return of a leafy London.
The tide line is also rapidly changing as once-hidden pier pilings and extensive chalk reefs are exposed by the increased speed of river traffic and tidal flow, once used by our forebears to utilise level riverside moorings. Riverside moorings, once used by our forebears, have fast become obscured from sight as riverside loading into the once-crowded warehouses is now replaced by vast new distribution centres linked to the M25 hinterland. New developments rely on a hard, modernised, concrete waterline, and we see the original tidal marshland acres rapidly disappear.
On once-marshy Greenwich Peninsula, the last giant gasholders are unpicked for redevelopment as this busy spine is readdressed for a network of new cross-river tunnels, and access roads attempt to relieve the dense traffic trap of the essential north-south Blackwall Tunnel.
Alas, the ancient river crossing at Woolwich is being frustrated by manning problems as new vessels have been introduced. Especially relevant as giant new residential areas, due to be served by the proposed DLR extensions to the east, loom over the old Dockland zone around City Airport – perhaps snarling up the giant new wholesale markets planned to ease Smithfield, Billingsgate, Covent Garden and such.
Just now, the view from my studio window towards Canary Wharf is remarkable well beyond the Dockland dream, as skyscraper office buildings contend with neighbouring new residential skyscrapers to outsmart the City of London, Mayfair and Dubai!!
One cannot ignore London’s ancient river superhighway as Father Thames provides a rapid ferry service for both passengers and cargo. New craft abound, recently built especially for the conveyance of spoil from the riverside tunnelling complex for the new super sewer’s construction sites all along the tideway and waterway network serving the capital, together with additional passenger piers serving new residential schemes both upstream and downstream right into the heart of the capital.