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Silver Spirit Cruise Ship at Greenwich
The PS Waverley at Tower Bridge
Regular readers will know that one of my favourite walks on a Sunday morning is from the Isle of Dogs to the Tower of London. Once you leave Canary Wharf behind, you enter the old docklands walking along Narrow Street in Limehouse to Shadwell Basin and then passed by Tobacco Dock to Wapping.
Finally you can walk around St Katherine’s Dock where you will often see the Gloriana and Havengore moored before finally arriving at the Tower. Quite often I will cross Tower Bridge to explore the south side of the river, this week my progress was halted by the raising of the bascules to allow a ship pass through. Although I have seen the bridge raised many times, I have never been on the bridge when it has happened. Therefore I joined the excited throng of people looking over the bridge to see what ship was coming underneath.
To my great surprise, it was the PS Waverley being pulled by the tug General VIII. The PS Waverley is the last seagoing passenger-carrying paddle steamer in the world and since 2003 Waverley has been listed in the National Historic Fleet by National Historic Ships UK as “a vessel of pre-eminent national importance”.
Built in 1946, she used to sail from Craigendoran on the Firth of Clyde to Arrochar on Loch Long until 1973. She was then restored and now operates passenger excursions around the British coast.
She is a regular visitor to the Thames and is one of the great sights of the river chugging up and down with lots of passengers.
Unfortunately there was little chugging this time as the PS Waverley was pulled through the bridge and off to be repaired.
Thames Sailing Barge Parade and Open Day in West India Docks – 17th and 18th September 2016
It is a great time for nostalgia on the Thames with Tall Ships floating past the Island and one of the biggest parades of Thames Sailing Barges seen for a long time in London over the weekend.
Lined up in West India Dock is around ten Thames Sailing Barges which at around 3.30pm on Saturday will form a parade and make their way onto the Thames and sail up to Tower Bridge.The Barges going under the raised Tower Bridge will be a wonderful sight and reminder of when hundreds of the barges would sail into The City of London to pick up and discharge cargo.
The Thames sailing barge was the name given to a type of working sailing boat common on the Thames in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The flat-bottomed barges were perfectly adapted to working in the Thames Estuary and beyond. Some worked along the coast and even went to continental European ports.
They carried many different cargoes, but often transported bricks, sand, coal and grain. Due to the efficiency of a Thames barge’s design, they only needed a crew of two for most journeys. Known as one of the ‘workhorses’ of the Industrial Revolution, in their heyday there were thousands of Thames Sailing Barges but it is now estimated that there are less than one hundred.
If you would like to see the Barges close up, on Sunday 18th September there will be a Sailing Barge Open Day at West India Dock. The Barge area will become a Popup Museum, open free to the public.
Shoreside activities at West India Dock include full access to the partaking barges so the public can learn of the barges history as well as meet and mingle with barge owners and crew members,.
The Thames Trafalgar Race 2015
Photo L Katiyo
Yesterday on a misty Thames , regular contributor L Katiyo managed to take a few photos of the Thames Trafalgar Race, the race is not as well known as other river races but provides an interesting test for the competitors.
Photo L Katiyo
The race, which is in its third year, is the brainchild of round-the-world-sailor, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and is organised jointly by the Little Ship Club and Erith Yacht Club. Held over two days, the unique event is open to all types and sizes of yachts both racing and cruising.
Photo L Katiyo
The first days racing starts just below Tower Bridge and carries competitors downriver to the Queen Elizabeth Bridge stopping at the Erith Yacht Club for the Saturday evening’s Trafalgar Dinner. The return leg finishes outside Greenwich Naval College on the Sunday.
Photo L Katiyo
Some knowledge of the river is a great advantage in the race that offers the rare opportunity to race sailing boats competitively on the Thames.
Photo L Katiyo
The finish at Greenwich Naval College on the Sunday is very appropriate considering part of the race is to honour the Battle of Trafalgar and Lord Nelson.
Underneath the Arches – The Bridges of London
In a previous post I wrote about the forthcoming exhibition called Bridge at the The Museum of Docklands. To give some insight into the exhibition, the museum organised a trip on the river by Thames Clipper to have a closer look at some of London Bridges.
With renown architectural historian Dan Cruikshank as our guide, we departed London Bridge Pier and were made aware that it was once London Bridge that dominated the Thames for over 1700 years.
It was in the 18th and 19th century that a series of bridges were built over the Thames that meant that London Bridge lost its unique position in London and when the medieval bridge was finally pulled down in 1830 to be replaced by an elegant but not iconic stone bridge, it lost most of its historical significance.
The bridges opened up the city to encourage development of the South of the River and enable freedom of people to move between the North and South especially when tolls were done away with.
When your on the river and get past Tower Bridge heading west, you quickly realise how many bridges there are, ranging from pedestrian, railway and multi purpose bridges.
A few surprising facts are given by Dan Cruikshank such as the solid-looking London Bridge is actually hollow inside, in fact in the exhibition is a photograph by Lucinda Grange which illustrates this.
Inside London Bridge (copyright Lucinda Grange)
A couple of rather unusual facts was that Waterloo Bridge is known as the ‘Ladies Bridge’ because it was said it was mostly built using the labour of women in the Second World War , it also has a more melancholy reputation due to the high number of people who have committed suicide throwing themselves from it.
The exhibition will have a large number of exhibits that will show existing and demolished bridges in paintings, prints and photographs, however it will also look at the way artists and writers have used bridges in their work.
It is perhaps with some irony that the Bridge Exhibition will take place in a warehouse in the West India Dock area because it was the shipping trade that curtailed any suggestion of bridges east of Tower Bridge.
The only major crossings attempted in this area were the tunnels at Wapping, Rotherhithe and Blackwall.
For those who cannot make the exhibition, I will be writing a review next week.
The Bridge Exhibition will run from 27th June – 2nd November at the Museum of Docklands
For more information visit the Museum website here
Clipper Round the World Yachts in St Katherines Dock
In the picturesque setting of St Katherine’s Dock sit the twelve 70 foot racing yachts due to take part in the Clipper 2013-2014 Round the World race.
The race itself starts on September 1st from London Bridge and will be the first time in 40 years that the Thames staged a round the world sailing event.
Sunday 1 September:
1000 – Official departure ceremony starts
1300 – 1330: Parade of Sail on the Thames
The fleet will not return until July 2014 after 670 crew race 40,000 miles and visit 16 ports on six continents, in the world’s longest ocean race.
The first leg of the Clipper Race ends in Marina da Gloria, Rio de Janeiro, the destination for the 2016 Olympic sailing events. They then continue on via South Africa, Western Australia, Sydney (including the world-famous Sydney-Hobart Race), Singapore, China, San Francisco, Panama, Jamaica, New York, Derry Londonderry and the Netherlands before returning to London’s St Katharine Docks for Race Finish in July 2014.
What is unique about the race is that the crew is made up of professionals and amateur sailors of all abilities allowing anyone to experience this once in a lifetime adventure.
Just around the corner from the Clipper Yachts is the Gloriana which played an important part in the Queen’s Thames Pageant last year.