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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Supermoon over the Isle of Dogs by L. Katiyo – 28th September 2015


The Isle of Dogs is not usually the best place to go sky watching, the bright lights often obscure the night sky.  However, if you are near the river you can often get wonderful views of the sunrises and sunsets.

Not expecting to get a great view of the ‘ Supermoon ‘, I did not join the skywatcher’s hoping to get a view of quite a rare astronomical occurrence.

One of the skywatchers was L. Katiyo  one of the regular contributors to this site and her persistence paid off with a series of wonderful pictures.


The moon’s unusual appearance in its supermoon state is the result of a rare coincidence. It appears larger than usual because it is at its lowest point in its orbit around the Earth, while its reddish tint is the result of an eclipse.

When a  lunar eclipse coincides  with the moon at its lowest point in its orbit it creates the   “supermoon” or sometimes called Blood Moon.

The eclipse which made the Moon appear red was visible in North America, South America, West Africa and Western Europe. This phenomenon was last observed in 1982 and will not be back before 2033.


From the UK, skywatchers watched the Moon pass through the Earth’s shadow in the early hours of Monday morning.


The eclipse began at 00:11 GMT, when the Moon entered the lightest part of the Earth’s shadow. At 02:11 GMT the Moon completely entered-the inner dark part of our planet’s shadow.


The point of greatest eclipse occurred at 02:47 GMT, when the Moon was closest to the centre and the eclipse ending at 05:22 GMT.


In a total lunar eclipse, the Earth, Sun and Moon are almost exactly in line and the Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun.

As the full Moon moves into our planet’s shadow, it dims  but usually remains visible, lit by sunlight that passes through the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Moon takes an  orbit around Earth, which means that its average distance changes from as far as 405,000km (its apogee) to as close as 363,000km at (the perigee).


So now we know what why the Supermoon is such a rare celestial occurrence and for those of us who are still around in 2033, it may be worth forgoing a good night’s sleep to view the event.

Many thanks to Laureen for the photographs taken from the Isle of Dogs.


Inside London’s Lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf – September 2015


A couple of weekends ago, thinking it was time to catch up with developments at Trinity Bouy Wharf and despite the threatening grey clouds, I set forth to one of the most unusual corners of London. Walking along Orchard Place is a rather surreal experience with old buoys and a Taxi with a tree sticking out of the top. Street Art and Information boards add to the strange mixture of old and new.

ScanTrinity Lighthouse

Photo Eric Pemberton

Reaching Trinity Bouy Wharf and noticing the door to the Lighthouse was open, I thought it was time to explore inside London’s Lighthouse.


Inside the Lighthouse is the Longplayer installation, which has been running since the 31st December 1999,In addition to the listening post, there are 234 singing bowls, used as a part of the 66-foot-wide orchestral instrument to perform Longplayer Live, are on display. The steel structure, designed by Ingrid Hu, was commissioned to display and store the bowls and was installed in autumn 2012. Each tier of the structure, containing 39 bowls positioned sequentially, corresponds to one of the six concentric rings of the Longplayer Live instrument.


The Lighthouse has an interesting history, in 1864–6, a new chain and buoy store was built whose main feature was an experimental lighthouse tower incorporated into the east wall. This was not the first experimental lantern on the site, in the 1850s a lantern in one of the older storehouses was used for the electric lighting trials carried out under the direction of famous scientist Michael Faraday. In the new Lighthouse, Faraday asked for a ‘chamber’ with a rigid iron floor for examining optical apparatus which was provided.


The brick lighthouse tower is 36ft up to the gallery and 57ft to the top of the lantern.  The lanterns were used in 1869 for trials of electric lighting from the eastern side, and the results observed from across the river in Charlton.


After the Second World War, the tower was used in the training of lighthouse keepers. A newspaper report from 1948 shows cadets being trained in all aspects of Lighthouse keeping.


Despite the arduous duties and the loneliness of the life, lighthouse keeping is popular as a career in Britain, and there is no shortage of applicants. To join the lighthouse service a man must be British, between the ages of 19 and 28 years, must have completed his military service and must be single—he can marry after four years’ service, or when promoted to assistant keeper. Cadets receive their initial training at the Trinity House school for lighthouse men at Blackwall, London, where the following pictures were taken. The remainder of the training period is spent at light stations.

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The Lighthouse was a site for Trinity House to test their Lighting equipment and train keepers to carry out the duties if they were looking after the  various types of Light stations, The training included cleaning the glass of the lantern to refuelling the Light, maintaining the machinery and sounding a range of different types of fog signal.

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A trip to Trinity Buoy Wharf is always worthwhile, but if you would like to look around the Lighthouse it is only open at weekends. Admission is free.

Opening Hours: Open every weekend, 11am – 5pm (winter times, October – March inclusive, 11am – 4pm).


Super Yacht Mischief into West India Dock – 22nd September 2015


On a miserable grey day, we welcome the Super Yacht, Mischief into West India Dock. The yacht was formerly called Blue Scorpion and was built by Baglietto in La Spezia, Italy in 2006.


The 172.08ft /52.45m yacht has recently been acquired by an Australian businessman and can accommodate 12 guests in 6 staterooms, including a master suite, 1 VIP stateroom, 2 double cabins and 2 twin cabins. She is also capable of carrying up to 12 crew onboard.


Like many of the Super Yachts, Mischief has the latest technologies and toys to keep the guests amused including Air Conditioning, WiFi connection on board, Deck Jacuzzi, Water skis, Snorkelling gear and 50” Sony plasma television screens.


However, unusually for Super Yacht visits, Mischief will host a series of events to coincide with the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Whilst moored in West India Dock it will offer special hospitality events where you can enjoy meals cooked by celebrity chefs and mix with former rugby union legends in small gatherings of up to 40 people.


If you would like to enjoy an exclusive meal chatting to Rugby Union greats on a  $40 million super yacht, the prices range from £990 per person (excluding VAT).


There will also be charter days where you will have exclusive access to the entire Super Yacht.

The owner also has plans to take the yacht to other sporting events like the Monaco Grand Prix and the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

In the usually secret world of  Super Yachts, owners tend to keep a low profile and limit access to family and friends. It will be interesting to see how many people take up the opportunity to taste the Super Yacht lifestyle, even for a short while.

Light and Dark : Exhibition by Laureen Katiyo at Christ Church, Isle of Dogs – 19th to 27th September 2015


Regular readers will know that Laureen Katiyo is a regular contributor to the blog and I was delighted to be invited to a preview of her paintings at  St John’s Chapel, Christ Church, Isle of Dogs.


Laureen is a talented writer and photographer, however this is her first art exhibition and her paintings show the strong influence of her Zimbabwean heritage.  She is a self-taught artist who began painting at school before putting down her brushes to concentrate on her academic education and then a career in economic development.


In the last couple of years, Laureen has picked up her brushes again and experimented with a variety of styles.


Various wildlife paintings dominate the exhibition and provide plenty of energy and colour.


If the animals provide the colour, Laureen’s monochrome pictures show her skill in portraits.


Another striking portrait in a different style is Damio – Vermelho.


Light and Dark : Exhibition of Selected Paintings by Laureen Katiyo  takes place in the St John’s Chapel, Christ Church, Isle of Dogs  between the 19th and 27th September 2015 : 12 noon to 5pm. Admission is free.


An added bonus if you want visit the exhibition is that you have a look around the church, Christ Church is one of the most attractive churches on the Island and has a number of interesting pieces of religious art dating back to 1852.


Stavros S Niarchos Tall Ship in West India Dock – September 17th 2015


A surprise visitor to the West India Dock today is the Tall Ship Stavros S Niarchos . She was last in the dock at around September last year.

Over the  last few weeks, I have written about how many of the Tall Ships carry out valuable work training  especially for young people and the Stavros S Niarchos is a good example of this.


The Stavros S Niarchos is a British brig-rigged tall ship owned and operated by the Tall Ships Youth Trust. Built in 2000, she has been used to give young people the opportunity to develop skills and  talents whilst undertaking voyages to various locations. She is also available for voyages and holidays which provides revenue to maintain the operation of the ship.


The ship is in dock at the end  of a voyage when 34 young people aged 14 to 15 have been selected from schools nationwide to take  part in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to helm the Tall Ship. Supported by HSBC’s community investment programme, the crew set sail from Southampton on Tuesday 8 September, the ship then sailed along the south coast, visited a European port  before sailing up the Thames yesterday and passed iconic landmarks and under Tower Bridge.


Since its inception in the 50s the organisation has taken 100,000 trainees to sea and sailed 1.9 million nautical miles. The ship has a Length of  197ft , Masts of 148ft  and Beam of 32ft, she usually operates a crew of 69 which include regular crew and volunteers.


The Stavros S Niarchos is relatively new but was put up for sale last year, it does not appear that she has been sold yet, however the market for second-hand tall ships must be quite limited.


Attending The Island Gardens 120th Year Celebrations – Saturday 12th September 2015


After reporting on a number of water based attractions this week, it was nice to attend a very important celebration in one of the most attractive parks on the Island.

The Friends of Island Gardens organised an afternoon of summer fun to celebrate the 120 years since Island Gardens were opened to the public by Will Crooks in 1895.


On a lovely late summer’s day, there were a number of attractions including a Magic show, Face painting, Children’s games, Balloons, Live music, Cake stall, Penny farthing and Plant stall.


There were plenty of interest in the various stalls that told the  history of the park and how it has developed over the last 120 years.


One of the highlights of the event was the  plaque unveiling ceremony in which well-known local campaigner Gloria Thienel and Tower Hamlets Mayor, John Biggs made speeches that paid tribute to Will Crooks fight to provide a ‘little piece of paradise’ for locals over a century ago.


They also made the point that it was important to protect the park from any future developments.  It was one of these planned developments that led to the formation of The Friends of Island Gardens who have been instrumental in raising the profile of the park but also have helped to bring  a number of initiatives to make the park an even better place to visit. The plaques in the small courtyard bring to life the history of this very special place.


Congratulations to all involved, especially to Eric Pemberton who is a regular contributor to this blog for bringing history alive and acknowledging our debts to those who fought to make  this little spot in the East End, a place for everyone to enjoy.

If you would like more information or would like to join the Friends of Island Gardens , contact them on friendsofislandgardens@gmail.com.

The Start of The Great River Race – Saturday September 12th 2015


It is always a pleasure to have a look at the boats and crews at the start of the Great River Race , the range of boats waiting on the Millwall slipway vary in size and shape. The same could be said about the crews, many in fancy dress who stand in anticipation of the challenge ahead.


It is known as the ‘River Marathon’ because the course is  21.6 Miles from the Isle of Dogs  to Ham in Surrey.  The UK Traditional Boat Championship or the Great River Race as it is known has become a favourite with crews and the public.


The start from the Isle of Dogs is one of the great sights on the river as  over three hundred boats make their way around Limehouse reach to begin their approach to the centre of London.


The event  is a spectacular boat race up the River Thames that often attracts over 300 crews from all over the globe and appeals to every level of competitor from the fun rowers to the more serious racers.There are 35 trophies at stake for the various classes of boats and competitors..


The Race began in 1988 , but has grown each year and is a real global event attracting crews from all over the world. To give all crews an equal chance, entrants were handicapped according to the calculated potential performance of their boats. This was done using a sophisticated computer programme.


As well as the crews , the entertainment is provided by the amazing array of boats on display from  the ever popular Dragon Boats to Waterman Cutters.


To make sure you don’t miss the race here are some timings:

From 7:35 hours.

Competing crews arrive, register and prepare their boats for the launch and of course the Race.


The start of the first of the 300-odd entrants.
Boats leave on a ‘slowest first, fastest last’ handicap basis, giving all crews an equal chance.
























For more details visit The Great River Race website here

Dutch Navy, HNLMS Johan de Witt (L801) at the Victoria Deep Water Terminal – 11th September 2015


Photo Eric Pemberton

Regular contributor, Eric Pemberton was alert to the arrival of a very unusual visitor, HNLMS Johan de Witt  is the second Landing Platform Dock, amphibious warfare ship of the Royal Netherlands Navy. It was designed in conjunction between the Netherlands and Spain. This large ship Length, 176.35 m (578 ft 7 in) and beam 29 m (95 ft 2 in) was launched in 2007.


Photo Eric Pemberton

It was built at the Damen Shipyards Galați, Romania but was fitted out at the Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding, Netherlands and its home port is Den Helder in the Netherlands.


Photo Eric Pemberton

It has an enormous capacity for 170 armoured personnel carriers or 33 main battle tanks and carry 555 marines with a crew of 146.

DSC_0eric 5

Photo Eric Pemberton

The ship is equipped with a large helicopter deck for helicopter operations and a dock for large landing craft. It can carry 6 NH 90 helicopters or 4 Chinook helicopters. It also has a well dock for two landing craft.


Photo Eric Pemberton

It can turn into a command base with a complete Class II hospital, including an operation theatre and intensive care facilities. A surgical team can be stationed on board.


Photo Eric Pemberton

It has already shown its effectiveness in  anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia and in humanitarian situations.

It is not known how long it is here for, but if you are travelling down or near the river, you are not going to miss this enormous military ship.


Tall Ship Tenacious in West India Dock – 11th September 2015


Recently in West India Dock it has seemed to be a case of one tall ship departing and another arriving.  That pattern has continued today, when we welcome the arrival of the regular visitor, STS Tenacious. The Tenacious is a wooden sail training ship which was specially designed to be able to accommodate disabled sailors. Launched in Southampton in the year 2000, it is one of the largest wooden tall ships in the world. It is 65 metres long with a beam of 10.6 metres at its widest point.


The Tenacious and her sister ship the Lord Nelson who visited the West India Dock a couple of weeks ago are owned by the UK-based charity the Jubilee Sailing Trust who have for many years have pioneered sailing for the disabled. The Jubilee Sailing Trust became a registered charity in 1978 and was the brainchild of Christopher Rudd, a school teacher and sailor who wanted to give the disabled children he taught the same experiences his able-bodied students had.


Since its launch Tenacious has taken nearly 12,000 people sailing of these 3,000 were physically disabled and 1,000 were wheelchair users.


The Tenacious is due to depart tomorrow and often sails around the British Isles and Europe, however she has sailed all around the world and often takes part in Tall Ship races.


It promises to be a busy weekend on the river with the Great River Race and the Classic Boats at St Katherine’s Dock.


The Island Gardens 120th Year Celebrations – Saturday 12th September 2015


The Friends of Island Gardens have organised an afternoon of summer fun celebrating the 120 years since Island Gardens were opened to the public by Will Crooks in 1895.
The event takes place between 1pm–5pm, in Island Gardens and will feature a Magic show, Face painting, Children’s games, Balloons, Live music,Cake stall, Penny farthing and Plant stall. There will also be a plaque unveiling ceremony at 2pm.


The story of Island Gardens is quite an intriguing one, up to the 19th Century most of the Isle of Dogs was farmland, however when shipbuilding and other industries began to spring up along the riverfront, the land that became Island Gardens was leased to the Admiralty who wished to preserve the site to maintain the famous views to Greenwich. However, the Admiralty did little with the site and it became a derelict plantation, in the 1880s the idea was raised to turn this area into a municipal park.


In 1889, the newly formed LCC began the negotiations for its purchase, in 1892, A deputation from the LCC, led  by Will Crooks and the chairman of the Parks Committee, J. S. Fletcher, met the First Lord of the Admiralty to get permission for a park. Crooks argued that the park would be a ‘little paradise’ for local people.

The purchase was eventually made in 1895 for £6,500, the state of the ground was very poor but Lieutenant-Colonel John J. Sexby who designed the new park, laid out  plants on the north, west and east sides with paths, a riverside walk and a wooden bandstand.


The Island Gardens were formally opened by Will Crooks on 3 August 1895 who had worked tirelessly to find open spaces and turn them into children’s play-places, Crooks argued that the Council should rescue every vacant plot of land that remained in the heavily built up area and convert it into a recreation ground, no matter how small.


His campaign had a number of successes other than the Island Gardens, he helped to create the Bromley Recreation Ground and the Tunnel Gardens at Poplar.

The Friends of Island Gardens  plaque will pay its respect to this remarkable politician.

The celebrations will be open between 1pm–5pm and everyone is invited.