Greenwich Map London

Thames: Sacred River

“In the reaches before Lechlade the water makes its way through isolated pastures; at Wapping and Rotherhithe the dwellings seem to drop into it, as if overwhelmed by numbers. The elements of rusticity and urbanity are nourished equally by the Thames. That is why parts of the river induce calm and forgetfulness, and others provoke anxiety and despair. It is the river of dreams, but it is also the river of suicide. It has been called liquid history because within itself it dissolves and carries all epochs and generations. They ebb and flow like water.”

Peter Ackroyd, from Thames: Sacred River (Chatto & Windus, London 2007, pp.490)

Peter Ackroyd has published 26 blogs including London: The Biography, The Great Fire of London, Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem and biographies of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Thomas More, Newton, JMW Turner, Dickens, Blake, TS Eliot and Ezra Pound, all of which feature the London River and the people of the River Thames.

Greenwich Map London Photo Gallery

The Woolwich Free Ferry

The Woolwich Ferry was established in the 14th century following the granting of a Royal privilege. In 1889 large vessels were provided to carry vehicles, passengers and goods. A fleet of paddle steamers was finally retired in the 1960s and replaced by the present generation of double-ended roll-on roll-off vessels. The ferry service provides an essential link between the Eastern ends of the North and South Circular roads which in the West are linked across the River by Kew Bridge.

A photograph from the 1960s showing the old and new ferries.

The Ernest Bevin, built in Dundee in 1963. She is one of the three diesel ferry boats that replaced the old paddle steamers She and her identical sister boats John Burns and James Newman entered service in 1963 and remain in use to this day.

The Tate & Lyle sugar refinery facilities at Silvertown on the North Bank.

John Pudney, an RAF intelligence office, lived in McCartney House, home of General James Wolfe, at the upper western entrance to Greenwich Park. Pudney was a distinguished authority on the history of the London River and the London Docks. This, his most famous poem, was written on the back of an envelope during an air raid in 1941 for the many Battle of Britain pilots who failed to return from combat.

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