Wednesday, March 31, 2010
THE LOST RIVERS OF LONDON
10) Chelsea Creek
Counter's Creek used to flow south into the Thames at Battersea Reach, but construction of the Kensington Canal diverted its last few hundred yards eastward along an artificial tidal waterway known as Chelsea Creek. The water here was only deep enough to be navigable at high tide, and this impractical oversight is one of the main reasons why the canal failed to make any money.
As recently as the early 1990s it was still possible to trace the old canal back as far as the King's Road, but a council highways depot now covers this part of the filled-in channel. [photo]
The inland tip of Chelsea Creek now lies in a muddy tree-lined basin [photo], conveniently shielded out of sight from the luxury apartment complex at Chelsea Harbour. A steady stream of taxis crawls across the creek's only bridge, helping the isolated Thames-side residents to escape to somewhere more convenient.
The mouth of Chelsea Creek is best viewed from St Mary's Church on the Battersea shoreline, with the twin chimney stacks of the former Lots Road Power Station standing as an imposing backdrop. [photo] [photo]
Following Counter's Creek: The last few hundred yards of Chelsea Creek are accessible only by boat. Lots Road Power Station flanks one bank, currently with most of its roof off as the interior is rejigged for flats. On the opposite shore a former warehouse [before] has recently been reduced to a pile of rubble [after], opening up the view, and no doubt this site is destined for apartments too. The Chelsea Harbour development looks like it was attempting to be St Katherine's Dock but forgot to include a dash of character. The architecture's dated terribly in 20 years, and I can only assume the flats look somewhat more desirable on the inside. The site boasts a central marina where over-successful people moor their yachts [photo], and also a Design Centre which is the deadest shopping mall I've ever seen on a Saturday. Riverside living isn't all it's cut out to be.
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