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Monthly Archives: September 2014

Last of the Tall Ships


Photo by L Katiyo

After the excitement of the Parade of Sail and the Greenwich Tall Ships Festival , life will slowly get back to normal and the river will seem strangely quiet and desolate.  I was very fortunate in my quest to report the activities of the last few days to have the assistance of regular contributors L Katiyo and Eric Pemberton.


Photo by Eric Pemberton

As one last feature on the Tall ships , I would like to feature some of their photographs that captured the once in a generation event.


 Photo by L Katiyo


Photo by Eric Pemberton


 Photo by L Katiyo


Photo by Eric Pemberton


Photo by L Katiyo


Photo by Eric Pemberton


Photo by L Katiyo


Photo by Eric Pemberton

The Parade of Sail at Blackwall


The wonderful sight of  around 50 Tall ships  going down the  Thames was too good an opportunity to miss, but rather than watch them at Greenwich I decided to watch them pass the old Maritime area of Blackwall .


For centuries this stretch of water was famous for its shipbuilding and safe anchorage.


It was also a major demarcation and embarkation point for millions of people.


The Greenwich Festival was the largest fleet  of Tall Ships in London for 25 years.


Lets hope its not another 25 years before they return.




Greenwich Tall Ship Festival Fireworks by L Katiyo


Photo by L Katiyo

With  the Greenwich  Tall Ship Festival coming to its conclusion today, it may be time to reflect on one of its highlights.


Photo by L Katiyo

Every night of the festival there has been spectacular firework displays  which have entertained the crowds.


Photo by L Katiyo

Regular contributor  L Katiyo  joined the crowds to watch Greenwich light up the London skies.


Photo by L Katiyo

Just a reminder that the festival finale , The Parade of Sail takes place today, when all of the Tall Ships that have come to Royal Greenwich for the Tall Ships Festival take to the Thames together .

The ships will gather near Maritime Greenwich at around 12 noon, before departing eastwards in the Parade of Sail along the Thames towards Tilbury from around 1.30pm.

  • The first ship will leave Greenwich at around 1.30pm.
  • It is then expected to cross Woolwich at about 2.30pm.
  • It can take as much as two hours for all the ships to pass a particular point on the river


Photo by L Katiyo


A Sailor’s Life for me ? Visiting the Festival Village at Greenwich


Photo by L Katiyo

With most of the attention of the Tall ships festival being focused on the ships themselves, perhaps some of the other attractions are not featured as much as they should be.

There are a wide range of activities for all the family in all the event areas which offer Drama, Music and Education.

Although we may have a romantic idea of Tall Ships with their sails billowing in the wind, the reality for the people who sailed on them was very different. Regular contributor L Katiyo  went to the Lebara Festival Village at Maritime Greenwich  to find out more.


Photo by L Katiyo

“At the Lebara Festival Village at Maritime Greenwich encompassing the Cutty Sark Gardens and the Old Royal Naval College, visitors can experience life at sea in the age of sail.  Men working at sea had much to endure. Cut off from normal life on shore for months, even years, they had to accept cramped conditions, disease and poor food and pay. Above all, they faced the daily dangers of sea and weather


Photo by L Katiyo

The festival village offers an opportunity to what life was like then, complete with replicas of uniforms, the food sailors ate, muskets and performances of sea shanties.  You can ask questions about the different types of jobs sailors did on board and their living conditions.”


Photo by L Katiyo

The festival which attracted huge crowds over the weekend finishes on the 9th of September .

Today , one of the highlights will be  the ‘Puffers and Dunkirk ships’ flotilla along the Thames – a flotilla of classic boats between Greenwich and Woolwich including puffers (steam ships) that took part in the rescue from Dunkirk in 1940 and a vintage fireboat.

The  programme of entertainment also continues throughout today – as does the chance to climb aboard a Tall Ship.

Tomorrow will be the grand Parade of Sail which sees the ships departing Greenwich .


Photo by L Katiyo

The Tall Ships Festival in West India Dock


After the excitement of the first day of the festival and the Royal visitor yesterday, very large crowds descended onto Wood Wharf to get a better look at the ships and in many cases to climb aboard and have a tour.

As stated yesterday, all the ships have there own story often including participation in Round the World  races. However a number of the ships have considerable historical interest as well.


Maybe is a traditional Dutch sailing ketch built by De Vries Lentsch in Amsterdam and launched in 1933 as a round-the-world cruiser. Whatever the original intentions for ship, the occupation of the Netherlands in the Second World War led to ‘Maybe’ was taken to the Dutch town of Jutplaces where she was hidden in the mud in a remote backwater.
After the war, she was recovered and restored in the same boat yard that had built her. Now she was ready for those sailing adventures and took part in first ever Tall Ships Race in 1956.
Further adventures of sailing around the world led to another complete restoration and finally returned to Tall ship races in 2009


Jolie Brise has a history that gives her a special place amongst  tall ships , Jolie Brise is a 56′ gaff-rigged pilot cutter built in Le Havre in 1913, launched by the Paumelle  yard to a design by Alexandre Pâris.

She was built for speed and ocean passages and was the last boat to carry the Royal Mail under sail. However it was when she was bought by E.G Martin in 1923 and after a refit she was reinvented as a racing yacht  participating in the Fastnet race four times, between 1925 and 1930, winning three races including the inaugural race in 1925.

In the 20s and 30s , she was generally used for racing or cruising before in the Second World war she was requisitioned by the Royal Navy, she spent the duration of the war laid up on a mud berth at Shoreham.

After the war, she ended up in Lisbon until the 1970s when she was acquired first on lease and then outright by Dauntsey School who now sail and maintain her.

Duet was  launched in 1912  was once owned by the famous explorer  Augustine Courtauld.

Ownership still remains in the Courtauld family on the understanding she is still operated for the purpose of sail training.

In 2012, Duet celebrated her centenary year by sailing around the UK as part of the ‘Voyage to Success’.


Many of the Tall ships undertake valuable work, training mostly young people in sailing skills, this is a creative use of many of the old tall ships that would otherwise been broken up.

Even the larger tall ships still run by the various navies use the tall ships for training for sailors, recent visits by the Gorch Fock and Amerigo Vespucci to the West India Dock show that this tradition is still going strong.

To prove the river is not all about Tall ships at the moment ,on the misty Thames this morning passing past the Tall ships , a flotilla of narrow boats made their way around the Isle of Dogs.

Also the long time West India Dock resident , the Portwey  taking a rare trip up the river.



The Arrival of the Tall Ships in West India Dock


Walking down the east side of the Island this morning, early morning joggers and walkers came across a rather unusual sight, a line of tall ships moored near North Greenwich.


I say unusual sight but if we go back a 150 years ago it would have been extremely common and in many ways the south dock of the West India Dock was the spiritual home of the clipper fleet in London. Many of the famous clipper ships such as the Cutty Sark and Thermopylae were often moored in the dock.


The South Dock 1885 (Photo National Maritime Museum)

The large number of ships moored  today for the Greenwich Tall Ships Festival are not the largest in the fleet but they all have a story and are interesting in their own right.


Over the weekend, I will be looking at some of the ships in more depth and reveal some of their interesting histories .


Although only the first morning of the festival , there were already a large number of people looking at the boats and talking to the crews.


 Just entering the dock is the John Laing with HRH Countess of Wessex aboard


Standing proud on the other side of the dock is the Stad Amsterdam which is not part of the festival but is well worth a look.


Remembering Alice French nee Holland 1925-2014

Mum at about 60 Raes wedding

Alice French

Recently I was contacted by Lee Adams who is the  daughter of Alice French nee Holland, unfortunately Alice had recently passed away after spending her whole life living on the Island.

The following piece , written by Lee is a great illustration how people like Alice spent their life on the Island but managed to have extraordinary lives.

Alice French has recently died after living all her life on the Isle of Dogs.

Alice was the eldest daughter of Chris and Liz Holland , nee Seymour , and had a brother Chris who lives in Billericay and another bother Kenny who died when a young child.

Alice had fond memories of her childhood, despite having a stern grandfather Philip Seymour; she had many funny tales of buying alcohol for her grandmothers and what life was like then , for instance having no running water except in the cellar . She had to work for her mum, as a child selling clothes from a cart and also collecting money from people, which she hated . This was because the family were hard up, her dad worked as a Corn Porter in the dock and was subject to the call on process, often times were hard and he had no work, he was a shop steward in the dock union .Liz began to sell things from her house and eventually ran little shops.

Alice went to Glengall Road School but left when she was fourteen, working in factories, she then joined the Port of London Authority and worked in the dock offices at Millwall as an admin officer –she very much enjoyed this work and was involved politically at this time being a member of the Communist Party .

Alice volunteered for the ATS during the second world, her service took her to Dresden in Germany after the bombing where she saw terrible things, she was a driver and also tracked down missing service personal. We believe she got a medal for bravery but Mum would never talk about it, though she said she threw the medal in the river being disgusted by war.

Mum and Dad at lazedown very happy

Alice with Geoff

Alice met Geoff French a mechanical design engineer in the North Pole pub   and they married in 1949.


The North Pole (recently sadly closed, due to be demolished)

Alice went to work with her mother Liz in their shop Holland’s Stores in Castalia Square where she worked for many years eventually taking over the shop with her brother Chris, they also had another shop in Millwall for a time.

mike seaborne_w600_h400

Alice with her brother Chris at the shop in Castalia Square (Photo Mike Seaborne)

Alice and Geoff had three children: Lee, Jeff and Rae and settled in Stebondale St after the war in a prefab by the park. It was idyllic really despite the bomb sites, we played in the street and the park safely, and went to the wonderful Cubitt Town Primary school up the road run by Miss Delamare.

Tragically Geoff died suddenly in 1967 at the age of 41 leaving Alice to bring us up alone, She never looked at another man and we guess never really got over dads death, she always worked very hard and instilled this strong work ethic into us her children; she was very independent and strong minded

Alice was a very kind and generous person, a good friend and neighbour and wonderful mother .She enjoyed going out to visit places, exhibitions and her children when they left home , she loved having her grandchildren-8 of them- to stay and taking them out , and in her last few years she loved to spend time with her great-grandchildren Jude and Coco.

In later years she suffered first a stroke and then a heart attack but continued to live at home in East Ferry Rd with help from carers and family. Even when she was wheelchair bound and not that well She enjoyed going out to Greenwich and having meals out .

Alice lived a good life ,she was very attached to the Island and to all the people she had known there and had many fond memories.

If anyone remembers Alice , or us do get in touch

Via Leeadams6952@gmail.com



Dutch Tall Ship, Stad Amsterdam in West India Dock – September 2014


In the few days before the Greenwich tall ships Festival, it is perhaps appropriate that we welcome a regular visitor to West India Dock, the tall ship the Stad Amsterdam.


The Stad Amsterdam (City of Amsterdam) is a three-masted clipper that was built in Amsterdam in 2000.


The ship was built when Frits Goldschmeding, founder of the Randstad employment agency and council of Amsterdam decided that the Dutch needed to build a tall ship to represent the historic maritime nation.

stad amsterdam

The ship was designed by Gerard Dijkstra basing his design on the 19th century frigate Amsterdam, however although she looks like 19th Century ship she is fitted with modern materials which means that she was fast enough to win the 2001 Cutty Sark Tall Ships’ Race.
The Stad Amsterdam follows in the wake of famous clippers Cutty Sark and Thermopylae who often frequented the West India Docks.


The Stad Amsterdam is used as a training ship but also undertakes luxury cruises and adventure holidays all over the world, in 2009 she was used by Dutch Television to retrace the second voyage of the HMS Beagle.

stad in sail

She is a fully rigged tall ship with an overall length of 76 m, height of 46.3 and over 2000 square metres of sail. She usually operates with a crew of 32 and can accommodate 120 passengers for day trips and 58 for longer journeys.


Tall Ships coming to West India Dock – The Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival 2014

Tall Ships And Glamour Camping Coming To Greenwich For Summer 2012

From 5 to 9 September, Greenwich will host five days of maritime activities to welcome over 50 tall ships from around the world.

Although most of the action will be focused in Greenwich, it is expected that up to 24 tall ships will be moored in West India Dock and there will considerable activity up and down the river.

Here is a list of the highlights.

Tall Ships events

Launch extravaganza: Peixos by Sarruga
Location: Maritime Greenwich
Date: 05 September 2014
Time: 20:30 – 21:15
Cost: Free

Fireworks Display – Maritime Greenwich
Location: Maritime Greenwich
Date: 05 September 2014
Time: 21:15 – 21:30
Cost: Free

River Festival: Thames barges
Location: Maritime Greenwich to Royal Arsenal Woolwich
Date: 05 September 2014
Time: 15:00 – 16:30
Cost: Free

River Festival: Traditional ships
Location: Maritime Greenwich to Royal Arsenal Woolwich
Date: 06 September 2014
Time: 12:00 – 14:00
Cost: Free

Crew parade and prize-giving
Location: Maritime Greenwich
Date: 06 September 2014
Time: 14:00 – 17:00
Cost: Free

Fireworks Display – Royal Arsenal Woolwich
Location: Royal Arsenal Woolwich
Date: 06 September 2014
Time: 21:45 – 22:00
Cost: Free

River Festival: Royal Pageant
Location: Maritime Greenwich
Date: 07 September 2014
Time: 11:30 – 13:00
Cost: Free

Ship Visits – Wood Wharf, Canary Wharf
Location: Wood Wharf, Canary Wharf
Date: 06 September 2014 – 08 September 2014 (Every day)
Time: 10:00 – 18:00
Cost: Free

River Festival: Puffers and Dunkirk ships
Location: Maritime Greenwich to Royal Arsenal Woolwich
Date: 08 September 2014
Time: 14:00 – 15:30
Cost: Free

Ship Visits – Greenwich Peninsula
Location: Greenwich Peninsula
Date: 05 September 2014 – 08 September 2014 (Every day)
Cost: Free

Ship Visits – Maritime Greenwich
Location: Maritime Greenwich
Date: 05 September 2014 – 08 September 2014 (Every day)
Cost: Free

Parade of Sail
Location: All along the Thames east of Greenwich
Date: 09 September 2014
Time: 13:00 – 16:00
Cost: Free