The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 51 The Thames from Westminster to Hampton Court

Thames 1

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51. THE THAMES FROM WESTMINSTER TO HAMPTON COURT. STEAMERS leave Westminster Pier in summer for Kew, Richmond, or Hampton Court (21 miles in circa 4 hours) about six times daily (with extra boats on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays). Passengers for Hampton Court usually have to change boats at Richmond. As the steamer service on the Thames is constantly being altered, previous inquiry should be made at the pier. The steamers sometimes touch at Chelsea, Putney, Hammersmith, Kew, and Richmond. The first part of the journey is mainly between industrial suburbs, but later we obtain an idea of the characteristic scenery of the Thames valley: low hills, charming woods, green meadows, handsome country houses and pretty bungalows with gardens and lawns sloping down to the river. The words right and left used in the following description refer to the journey upstream. Opposite Westminster Pier rises the large building of the new County Hall. Just above Westminster Bridge is the terrace of the Houses of Parliament, on the right; opposite are the pavilions of St. Thomas's Hospital, beyond which rise the old walls and towers of Lambeth Palace, with St. Mary's Church. On the right are the Victoria Tower Gardens. Passing beneath Lambeth Bridge, we soon have the Tate Gallery (Walk 43) on our right, with Doulton's Pottery opposite. Above (1 mile) Vauxhall Bridge the banks are fringed with factories and wharves, off which lie strings of barges. We pass beneath (2 miles) the wide Grosvenor Road Railway Bridge and the Chelsea or Victoria Suspension Bridge. On the left appear the trees of Battersea Park, and on the right are Chelsea Embankment and the grounds of Chelsea Hospital, which is visible through the trees. Then, on the right, begin the red-brick houses of Cheyne Walk. We pass Cadogan Pier (25 minutes from Westminster), on the right, just below the Albert Suspension Bridge. The square tower of Old Chelsea Church now comes into view. Beyond (3 miles) Battersea Bridge lies the picturesque part of Cheyne Walk, ending at the Electric Generating Station, a prominent landmark with its four tall chimneys. The river is now flanked on either side with factories; we obtain a view of the distant Surrey hills. On the left is Battersea Church, short of which are Mayhew's Flour Mills. We pass beneath the bridge of the West London Extension Railway and then beneath (4 miles) Wandsworth Bridge. On the left is the mouth of the Wandle. On the right lies Fulham, with the leafy grounds of Hurlingham Club, opposite (5 miles) Wandsworth Park, beyond which begin the houses of Putney. Next come the iron latticebridge of the District Railway (with a footway) and the handsome stone Putney Bridge, flanked by the parish churches of Fulham (right) and Putney (left). Then, on the left, Putney Pier (40 minutes from Westminster). Opposite lies Fulham Palace, hidden by the trees. The public Bishop's Park skirts the river for + mile, ending at the Craven Cottage football ground. Meanwhile, on the left, we pass the boathouses of several rowing clubs. The University Boat Race begins here, and various points on the river between Putney and Mortlake acquire a temporary fame as stages in that classic struggle. To the left, hidden by trees, is (6 miles) Barn Elms, now the home of the Ranelagh Club. Between this point and Barnes the left (Surrey) bank of the river, which describes a great curve, is occupied by the reservoirs of the Metropolitan Water Board. On the right are the Crabtree Wharf and Inn. We pass Hammersmith Pier (7 miles; 50 minutes from Westminster), on the left, close to Hammersmith Suspension Bridge.