Posts Tagged ‘River Thames’

Our journey on the Emirates Cable car was certainly a unique experience.

O2 Arena

Tall Ships seen from cable Car

 

Canary Wharf

 

The Emirates Airline cable car gives some wonderful views over East London

O2 Arena

Riverside development

 

Riverboat Station

The area on both side of the river which was once industrial is now being developed for residential, commercial and leisure uses

An old Lightship moored on a wharf

Olympic Stadium, Stratford

The emirates airline cable car allows wonderful views of East London.

O2 Arena

Thames Flood Barrier

East India Dock (now a nature reserve)

Excel Exhibition Centre

Docklands Light Railway

On a recent visit to Greenwich for the tall ships Festival, Keith and I decided to take a ride on the emirates cable car.

In the middle of 2010, Transport forLondon announced plans to develop a cable car across the River Thames. It would connect North Greenwich to the Royal Victoria docks. The final design was 1100 m long with a clearance over the River of between 54 m and 87 m.  The following year it was announced that it would be sponsored by Emirates airline and construction began in August of that year. The cable car was opened on 28 June 2012 just in time for the London Olympics, connecting venues in the dockland area with those at the O2 Arena in Greenwich.

 

The cable car has 34 gondolas, each carrying a maximum of 10 people (although from my experience 110 people would be quite a squash). At its peak, shortly after opening, it carried 42,500 people a week but this is now settled back to an average of 28,000 journeys per week.

 

 

 

And so as Tower Bridge rises we make our way under this iconic London bridge to enter into the Pool of London and our destination. Tower Bridge was opened in 1894 and is the only bridge on the Thames which opens and shuts to allow the traffic to pass.

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The Shard dominates the skyline dwarfing the tower of Guys Hospital

The Shard dominates the skyline dwarfing the tower of Guys Hospital

Leaving Docklands we approach the end of our journey. In the distance can be seen the buildings of the city including the Shard which is visible from many parts of London.

We pass the River police station at Wapping and some diners enjoying their lunch.

Wapping Police Station

Wapping Police Station

 

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Two famous riverside pubs are found on this stretch. The ‘Captain Kidd’, named after the famous pirate who was hanged nearby at Execution Dock in May of 1701 after being found guilty of piracy and murder.

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The ‘Prospect of Whitby’ is one of the oldest pubs on the river. It originally dates from around 1520, when it was known as the Pelican. It was destroyed in the 18th century and rebuilt although the stone floor is original and approx 400 years old. When re-built it was renamed after a ship, ‘Prospect of Whitby’, which was moored nearby. It is suggested that people started referring to the pub as  ‘the pub near  the Prospect of Whitby’ and a landlord took up the name for the pub. It has had many famous patrons including both Samuel Johnson and Charles Dickens. It appears in sketches by the artists Turner and Whistler.

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Tower Bridge is now ahead and we have a grandstand view to see it raised to allow passage into the Pool of London.

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As we proceed to towards central London we enter Docklands, the area that was once the thriving heart of London’s international trade but which as ships became larger and ways of transporting cargo changed became redundant. The area has now been regenerated into one of homes, offices, shopping and leisure activities although in many places it still uses the old dock basins now changed from a commercial use to a leisure use. It is an area of innovative design and architecture.

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Reminders of the area's history can still be found like this dock basin entrance

Reminders of the area’s history can still be found like this dock basin entrance

And the building continues

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We are soon approaching the Greenwich peninsular. Once a major industrial area this area is now one of major redevelopment.

Approaching Greenwich Penninsular

Approaching Greenwich Penninsular

At the apex of the peninsular is the O2 arena (originally the Millennium Dome) built for the 2000 exhibition, it is now one of London’s premier event spaces.

O2 Arena

O2 Arena

This redevelopment included a major upgrading of the transport to the area. The most visible is the cable car which runs across the Thames to the north bank.

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As we make our way past the arena we are passed by the River Lifeboat.

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As we approach Greenwich we pass the power station, built in 1910 to provide power for London’s tram and underground network. It was originally powered by coal and the jetties on the river were used for the delivery of coal and the removal of ash. It now houses 4 gas turbines.

Greenwich Power Station

Greenwich Power Station

The Riverside Almshouses were built in 1812 replacing a set of almshouses built on the site for ’21 old gentlemen of Greenwich’ by the Earl of Northampton in 1613.

Riverside Almshouses

Riverside Almshouses

Bult in 1837 on the site of an earlier inn, the Trafalgar Inn was a place of dining for many distinguished visitors to Greenwich.

Trafalgar Inn

Trafalgar Inn

After his restoration to the throne in 1660, Charles II drew up ambitious plans for a new palace, to replace the old and poorly-maintained Greenwich Palace. Unfortunately, finances and enthusiasm soon waned, and only one new wing was actually built. In 1694 this wing along with the grounds were granted by William III by Royal Warrant as the site for the Royal Hospital for Seamen.

Royal Naval College

Royal Naval College

 

Royal Naval College

Royal Naval College

In 1873 the Naval College in Portsmouth acquired the buildings and the Royal Naval College was established to provide state of the art training for young officers. The Navy left in 1997, and the Old Royal Naval College is open for the public to visit. Parts of the building are now part of the University of Greenwich and Trinity College of Music.

Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark is a British clipper ship. Built on the Clyde in 1869 she was one of the last, and one of the fastest, tea clippers to be built. The opening of the Suez Canal (also in 1869) meant that steamships now enjoyed a much shorter route to China, so Cutty Sark spent only a few years on the tea trade before turning to the trade in wool from Australia, where she held the record time to Britain for ten years. The ship was sold to the Portuguese company Ferreira and Co. in 1895, and renamed Ferreira. She continued as a cargo ship until purchased by retired sea captain Wilfred Dowman in 1922, who used her as a training ship operating from Falmouth, Cornwall. After his death, Cutty Sark was transferred to the Thames Nautical Training College, Greenhithe in 1938 where she became an auxiliary cadet training ship. By 1954 she had ceased to be useful as a cadet ship and was transferred to permanent dry dock at Greenwich, London, for public display. Cutty Sark is listed by National Historic Ships as part of the National Historic Fleet.

 

 

 

QEII bridge at Dartford

QEII bridge at Dartford

As we proceed under Queen Elizabeth II Bridge at Dartford, two strange chimney-like structures are visible on each bank. These are the vents from the Dartford Tunnel. In fact there are 2 tunnels. The first was built in 1963 and carried two-way traffic. A second was added in 1980 with each tunnel now carrying one direction flow. With the addition of the Bridge in 1991, both tunnels now carry northbound traffic with the south-bound using the bridge.

Vents from Dartford Tunells

Vents from Dartford Tunnels

On the north bank we pass the RSPB nature reserve at Rainham Marshes, one of the few protected stretches of estuarine marsh left.

RSPB reserve centre at Rainham Marshes

RSPB reserve centre at Rainham Marshes

On the south bank is the Dartford Creek-tidal barrier which prevents flood waters entering the rivers that feed into the creek and flooding towns such as Dartford

The Dartford Creek Tidal Barrier

The Dartford Creek Tidal Barrier

We pass the dock of the two boats, Thames Clearwater I and II . These are used to aerate the river if oxygen levels fall below a set level in order to try to prevent any loss of marine wildlife.

Thames Clearwater I and II

Thames Clearwater I and II

Another long-standing feature of the river is the Woolwich Free Ferry. This carries vehicles and foot passengers from Woolwich town centre on the south bank to North Woolwich across the river. This has been the site of a passenger ferry since the 15th century, although  the vehicle ferry dates from 1889. The current boats are now over 50 years old and there has been an on-going discussion in London about what will be done to replace them. The current schemes seem to be a bridge downstream and another tunnel upstream as these are seen as more efficient ways of moving traffic than ferries. There are often long queues of traffic waiting to board the ferry and particularly on the southern side this can back -up onto nearby main roads.

Woolwich Free Ferry

Woolwich Free Ferry

Berthed near here is a boat far from home, the Royal Iris. Built in 1951 for the Mersey Ferry, she became famous for the parties held on her in the 1960s with bands such as the Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Searchers and Elvis Costello performing onboard. Withdrawn from service in 1991 she was used as a floating nightclub but has now been berthed on the River Thames. Efforts to return this iconic Liverpool boat to it’s hometown have foundered on the cost of making her seaworthy for the voyage.

Royal Iris

Royal Iris

Beyond Woolwich, we approach the Thames Barrier. Built in 1984 to prevent the flooding of London on high tides. The gates in normal use lie along the riverbed, enabling unhindered passage to shipping but when required they can be raised into place to prevent surge tides reaching the capital.

Thames Barrier

Thames Barrier

 

PS Waverley alongside at Gravesend

PS Waverley alongside at Gravesend

Our trip on the PS Waverley starts at Gravesend, which is a town with a long and interesting history.

Royal Terrace Pier

Royal Terrace Pier

Royal Terrace Pier was built in 1842 to accomodate day trippers from London who arrived by steamer. One notable visitor in 1863 was Princess Alexandria of Denmark on her way to marry the then Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, son of Queen Victoria.

 

St Andrews Chapel and Royal Clarendon Hotel

St Andrews Chapel and Royal Clarendon Hotel

St Andrews Chapel was built in 1871 as a mission church to the waterfornt community. It is now an arts centre. The area around the chapel was known as Bawley Bay and was a wharf for shrimp boats in the 19th century. It was also a departure point for families emigrating to Australia and New Zealand. In the gardens of the Royal Clarendon hotel is the remains of the Gravesend Artillery Blockhouse, which dates from the reign of Henry VIII. It was one of 5 built in the area to protect the river access and docks. The hotel was originally built as a house for James, Duke of York, later James II. It became quarters for the ordinance depot keepers and subsequently a hotel.

Town Pier

Town Pier

Town Pier was built in 1834 and restored in 2000. At the town end is the ‘Three Daws’ which claims to be the oldest Public House in Kent.

Mute Swans at Gravesend waterfront

Mute Swans at Gravesend waterfront

 

Princess Pocahontas, a river cruiser with St Georges church in the background

Princess Pocahontas, a river cruiser, with St Georges church in the background

The cruiser is named after the Indian princess Pocahontas who had married tobacco planter John Rolfe in Virginia in 1614. In 1616 the Rolfe’s decided to return to England and Pocahontas became something of a celebrity even attending a ball at Whitehall Palace, the prinicipal royal residence at that time. In 1617, the Rolfe’s made ready to return to Virginia, but Pocahontas had to be taken from the ship at Gravesend due to illnes. She did not recover and died. She was buried in the churchyard of St George’s church in Gravesend. Unfortunately that church was destroyed by fire about 100 years later and no record survives of the location of the grave.

 

Industrial Thames on the outskirts of Gravesend

Industrial Thames on the outskirts of Gravesend

As we leave Gravesend to make our way upstream the scenery changes and the industrial side of the river becomes evident.