diamond geezer

 Friday, November 18, 2022

Earlier this week, during that rare sunny slot, I went for a walk round the outside of the big loopy Thames meander from Rotherhithe to North Greenwich and took some photos along the way. And I wondered what would happen if I restricted myself to two hours to write the whole lot up, would there be any noticeable difference in quality, appreciation and engagement? That's five minutes down already, let's see how this goes.

This is Greenland Dock in Rotherhithe, the largest dock south of the river. I took this pretty photo while standing outside the Moby Dick pub, which is appropriately named because this is where London's whaling fleet used to process their prey. Here are three sentences randomly selected from the Wikipedia article about Greenland Dock. From the 1720s, Greenland whalers also used the dock and substantial blubber boiling houses were built to produce oil on the south side. Between 1895 and 1904 Greenland Dock was greatly expanded by being extended at a cost of £940,000 to the west in a project carried out under Sir John Wolfe-Barry, the engineer who built Tower Bridge. A masterplan was produced that advocated evicting the remaining industrial occupiers of the quaysides and transforming the dock into a residential area. I particularly like the seagulls sitting on their buoys.

This is the exit from South Dock, which unsurprisingly is just to the south of Greenland Dock. You can still walk over the lock gates but you might have to wait for a bike coming the other way first. That's Greenland Pier sloping down into the Thames which gets a Thames Clipper service every half hour or so. If London had a magic money tree, or properly funded transport provision, you could nip over to Canary Wharf in four minutes for free whereas it currently costs £3.80 and it's only that 'cheap' because they introduced a cut-price Cross River fare earlier this year. Greenland Pier was built on the site of Dog and Duck Stairs, and the leafy promenade where I'm standing was called South Dock Pierhead, and that metal lump behind the railings is an original capstan, and I'm just reading all this off an old Ordnance Survey map, I'm not super-knowledgeable.

This isn't just any old boundary stone, this is the dividing line between St Paul's parish Deptford and St Mary's parish Rotherhithe and it's been standing beside the Thames for over 200 years. More importantly until 1889 it was the actual dividing line between Kent and Surrey, after which both sides both became proper London, but it always seems amazing that the counties of Kent and Surrey came this close into the heart of what we now know as the capital. Unfortunately this isn't the precise location where the boundary used to be because they moved the stone in 1988 when all the surrounding housing was being built, it used to be on a nearby bridge over the Earl's Sluice which is one of London's lost rivers. I've not done any specialist research here, I'm just reading the information off that plaque you can see on the wall but can't read because I've shrunk the photo down far enough to make me appear well-informed.

This is the slipway of the former Greenwich Steam Ferry and can be seen at this level of clarity if you're fortunate enough to turn up bang on low tide. The steam ferry opened in 1888 with a highly innovative design whereby passengers and vehicles were transported down the foreshore on moveable platforms to the waiting ferry. The platforms were pulled up and down on cables operated by engines in the cellar of the ferry terminal building. Greenwich Steam Ferry only ran for a few years before commercial and operational difficulties led to its suspension in the early 1890s and closure in 1899. Again I haven't looked any of this up, I copied the last three sentences verbatim off an information board installed by the Environment Agency earlier this year because copying is easy.

This is a sign I saw on the railings at Crowleys Wharf, which is where the Greenwich Meridian crosses the Thames Path but that's not relevant here. It says: Text 999 "Register" to text police in emergency. I wondered what the hell that was about and when I got home I Googled and ended up on one of those clickbait pages local newspaper websites write these days and that explained everything. Apparently it's a scheme for the deaf and hard of hearing to contact the emergency services without having to talk, you just send a text message to 999 instead. Anyone can do this but it only works if you register first by texting the word "Register", so best to do that now before you find yourself hiding from a burglar and unable to make a noise without being caught. And I never knew that before.

This is Enderby Wharf, a recent housing development on the banks of the Thames in Greenwich. I think it's about five years old, also it's where the cruise liner terminal was going to be but now isn't, sorry I don't have time to check. There's now a new gastropub on the site in what I think was an old office building for a company that I think used to make submarine cables, which is cables that go underwater not cables for submarines because that would be silly. All I really want to say is my God aren't those flats ugly, the colours are garish like you might find in a limited edition of TicTacs, quite horrible. I'd never have agreed to that combination, you have to pity the folk who live in those shoeboxes because their view is all blue and orange, typical bloody Barrett homes, horrible stuff, and it turns out emotional invective is so much faster to write than facts.

This is the Thames Path at Morden Wharf, the narrow bit with the lovely weeping willow trees. But they're doomed because I saw a planning notice pinned up beside the path dated 4th November and it was titled "Essential Revetment Repair Works consisting of the full refurbishment and replacement of the existing revetment and associated raising and widening of the Thames Path and River Wall with associated works and alterations". You can't fully replace a revetment without killing off the trees embedded in it, plus I know they're for the chop because I read about it on the 853 website a couple of weeks ago. Darryl's got the full story and all the appropriate links to planning documents plus the revelation that all the trees were expected to be dead within 10 years anyway, and thank goodness for sites that still do local news properly, not least because it saves me doing it.

This is the view across the Thames from North Greenwich near the end of Drawdock Road. It's amazing how this view has changed, even quite recently, from a few Docklands towers to a forest of steel and glass with some extraordinary shapes, but that's Wood Wharf for you. I've got a photo from 2010 somewhere but I don't have time to delve into what these new towers are because I've run out of time, my two hours are up. Look at that, I've managed to write over 1200 words in the time it normally takes me to write much less and all because I've plagiarised and waffled rather than wasting time on proper background research. That's brilliant, I now have the rest of the afternoon free and can also go out this evening, because if you take a few nice photos it seems you can get away with any old rubbish underneath.

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