The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 54 From London to Tilbury and Gravesend

Lower Thames 1

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B. BY RIVER. A steamer trip on the Lower Thames is essential for those who wish to obtain an idea of the vast sea-borne commerce of London. The ascent of the river at sunset is especially fine. There are no intermediate steamer halts between London Bridge and Greenwich. The ROYAL SOVEREIGN (7 Swan Lane, E. C. 4) plies daily in summer (except Friday) from Old Swan Pier at 8. 30 a. m. for Southend (3/, return 4/6), Margate (6/, 8/), and Ramsgate (6/6, 9/). The GOLDEN EAGLE (General Steam Navigation Co., 15 Trinity Sq., E. C. 3) plies daily (except Friday) in summer from Greenwich Pier at 8.55 a. m. and North Woolwich Pier at 9.25 a. m. for Tilbury, Southend, Margate, and Ramsgate, connecting at Tilbury with a train from Fenchurch Street Station. Fares to Southend 3/, return 5/; to Margate 6/, 10/; to Ramsgate 7/, 10/6. The CRESTED EAGLE, of the same company, sails daily from Old Swan Pier (9.30 a. m.) and Greenwich Pier (9.55 a. m.) to the same ports. On the return journey passengers for London are disembarked at North Woolwich and conveyed by train to Fenchurch St. Station. No passengers are carried upstream above Greenwich. The BELLE STEAMERS (91 Bishopsgate, E. C. 4) ply daily in summer (except Friday) from Old Swan Pier at 8.30 or 8.45 a. m. and Greenwich Pier at 9.15 a. m. for North Woolwich, Tilbury, Southend, Clacton, Walton, Felixstowe, Southwold, Lowestoft, Gorleston, and Yarmouth (10/, return 15/). Fares often raised on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays. Leaving Old Swan Pier the steamer passes beneath London Bridge, which is adjoined on the north by Fishmongers' Hall and on the south by the tower of Southwark Cathedral. The reach between London Bridge and Limehouse, thronged with shipping, is known as the Pool of London. Both banks of the river are lined with wharves and warehouses. On the left rise the tower of St. Magnus the Martyr and the Monument; then Billingsgate Fish Market, off which Dutch fishing-boats are usually to be seen, and the Custom House, with its quay. In the background is the tower of the offices of the Port of London Authority. Next appear the ancient buildings of (2 miles) the Tower, with the Traitors' Gate in front. Beyond Tower Bridge, on the left, are the entrances to St. Katherine's Docks and the London Docks. Opposite lies Bermondsey, with the ancient St. Saviour's Dock. Farther on (left) lies Wapping, opposite (3 miles) Cherry Garden Pier, on the site of cherry-gardens frequented by Pepys. On the left is Tunnel Pier, adjoining the site of the old Execution Dock. Opposite is Rotherhithe, with its parish church and its picturesque old riverside houses, a little short of the entrance to the enormous Surrey Commercial Docks. Shadwell, Ratcliff, and Limehouse, with the entrance to the Regent's Canal Dock, succeed each other on the left bank. Opposite Ratcliff is (4 miles) Globe Pier. Beyond Cuckold's Point (on the right) the river bends sharply to the south (Limehouse Reach) and describes a wide loop round the Isle of Dogs (left), in which are the West India Docks and Millwall. On the right bank, beyond (5 miles) the south entrance to Surrey Commercial Docks, lies Deptford, with the Royal Victualling Yard and the former Foreign Cattle Market. Then follows Greenwich, with its famous hospital, park, and observatory, separated by Greenwich Reach from North Greenwich, at the south extremity of the Isle of Dogs. The river now bends to the north (Blackwall Reach). On the right stretch Greenwich Marshes, now occupied by wharves and large gas-works; on the left are Cubitt Town, and, beyond the east entrances to the West India Docks, Blackwall, with (8 miles) its railway station and the entrance to the East India Docks. At Blackwall Point (right) the Thames bends again to the south east (Bugsby's Reach), with Bow Creek (mouth of the Lea), the entrance to the Victoria Dock, and a series of large factories on the left. The river now runs due east (Woolwich Reach). On the left is Silvertown, the scene of a disastrous munitions factory explosion on January 19th, 1917. On the right is Woolwich, with (10 miles) the Royal Dockyard, beyond which lies St. Mary's Church and the steamboat pier. Opposite lies North Woolwich, served by a free ferry.