Travelodge opens at Richmond

Travelodge has opened Richmond-upon-Thames.

The budget hotel,  9 Paradise Road TW9 1RX in the town centre, is handy for the river.

Christina Hardyment: Writing the Thames


Christina Hardyment grew up in Richmond where she played by the lock and went upstream to Hampton for school. She danced on Eel Pie Island. Later she lived at Ashton Keynes in Wiltshire where you can almost jump across the river.

Now the author lives in Oxford where she knows Port Meadow in summer and winter. She has sailed and taken a punt on a long journey. She has even tried swimming in the river although wisely it was above Inglesham where such activity is safer than in the Home Counties.

So Christina really does know the River Thames and her new book Writing the Thames (Bodleian Library; £25) is about other writers who have known the river.

There is not a lot on the London end for most of the best literary heritage is to the west in more delightful corners. London is rightly described as now being a series “boom areas for ritzy developments intended as investments”.

But it is good to be reminded that one of the earliest poems to mention the River Thames was written by Chaucer’s friend John Gower who lived in the capital.

In Confessio Amantis he claims to have met Richard II when rowing on the river. Gower’s lovely tomb and effigy can be found in riverside Southwark Cathedral where his head rests on a copy of his book.

The cathedral was a priory and Christina highlights Hilaire Belloc’s claim that the dissolution of the monasteries changed the character of the river. The religious communities had provided the bridges and accommodation all along the Thames.

But as the Reformation approached, the Thames became the fast route for top people. Thomas More found Chelsea handy for both Hampton Court and Greenwich.

Thomas Arne’s tune Rule Britannia was written in a pub passed by boats heading for Hampton Court and first heard at riverside Cliveden.

We are reminded that Discovery, which a century ago was sent to rescue Ernest Shackleton marooned in the Antarctic, was once moored on the Embankment. There was a lovely view of her down Cornwall Road near Waterloo Station before the gap was blocked by the IBM building and the ship moved to Dundee.

The book mentions another 2016 anniversary. In 1816 Percy Bysshe Shelley arrived with his new wife Mary at Marlow. In two years time we shall have the bicentenary of Frankenstein which was written at Albion House in West Street.

There is much much more to be found in this book which most readers will wish to return to from time to time after a walk along the towpath known to Thomas Love Peacock, Charles Dodson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, William Morris, H G Wells, Robert Gibbings and many others.

The notes and reading list are extensive.

The illustrations include sketches by John Evelyn and Shelley. A special delight is a 1951 lithograph called Fishing at Marlow by Edwin La Dell for Lyons Tea Rooms.

Ramblers say no to Garden Bridge

Tom Copley AM at the meeting

Tom Copley AM at the meeting

“The Ramblers of London oppose the Garden Bridge.” said Inner London Ramblers chair Phil Marson speaking at St John’s Waterloo on Monday.

He was addressing a packed meeting called to rally opposition to the proposed Garden Bridge and press new London Mayor Sadiq Khan to cancel it.

After suggesting that the money involved could be spent either on London’s footpath network or the proposed Rotherhithe foot and cycle bridge, he said: “We call on Sadiq to stop it.”

Earlier architect Ian Ritchie had described the Garden Bridge as “celebrity hype and hubris”. He also suggested that the design would result in a crossing which was too big and unbalanced. His summing up was “a dangerous folly”.

The opposition appears to centre most on loss of a world famous view from Waterloo Bridge, loss of the view from the Thames Path just downstream of the NFT and the felling of mature trees on a much loved stretch of the national trail. Trees on the bridge will, apparently, be of a different nature and not so tall.

The meeting was chaired by Kate Hoey MP who said the bridge was “not much of a garden, and not much of a bridge”. Speakers included Tom Copley who has been re-elected to the London Assembly.

A crowded St John's Waterloo on Monday evening

A crowded St John’s Waterloo on Monday evening

Stop the Garden Bridge public meeting

This view would be blocked by the Garden Bridge

This view would be blocked by the Garden Bridge

Thames Central Open Spaces is hosting a public meeting to ask new London Mayor Sadiq Khan to reconsider the funding for the proposed Garden Bridge.

The meeting is on Monday 16 May at 7pm at St John’s Church Waterloo, opposite the IMAX and near the Garden Bridge site. Local MP Kate Hoey has agreed to be in the chair.

Kemble to Cirencester railway restoration plan

A surprise plan has been announced to reopen the Kemble to Cirencester railway line.

One of the pleasures on reaching the source of the Thames in a remote Gloucestershire meadow is that there is a railway station nearby.

However, many walkers would like to pause at the end rather than catch a train from Kemble station on the same day. Most bed and breakfast accommodation is a few miles away in nearby Cirencester rather than the village.

The branch line to Cirencester was closed in 1964.

Cotswold District Council cabinet has considered a plan to restore the three mile track. Consideration is being given to having a light driverless train service as run by the Docklands Light Railway in east London.

The main expense in relaying the track would be near Kemble where the Thames Path crosses the main road. It is at this point that a railway bridge has been demolished.

There were two halts between Kemble and Cirencester. One was Park Leaze Halt just north of Ewen and next to a bed and breakfast farm.

Supporters are suggesting that the line could be reopened sometime between 2019 and 2021.

May Day by the Thames

The 'green man' on London Bridge in 2007

The ‘green man’ on London Bridge in 2007

Sunday 1 May is May Day when the Deptford Jack in the Green will be seen on the Thames Path.

There the Jack, or the ‘Green Man’, is being dressed the night before from 8pm at The Dog & Bell in Prince Street which is also the Thames Path at the back of Convoys Wharf.

The traditional procession with music sets off from the pub on Sunday morning sometime after 11.30am. The route is at first inland along Stowage to cross Deptford Creek at the road swing bridge.

The Thames Path will be followed from the new Sail Loft pub (12.30pm) downstream to the Cutty Sark stopping for lunch at The Gypsy Moth pub (1.15pm).

Shakespeare on the Thames Path

Thames Path at Shakespeare's Globe on anniversary eve

Thames Path at Shakespeare’s Globe on anniversary eve

This Saturday 23 April is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and the place to be is the Thames Path in London.

Next to the river on Bankside there is the Shakespeare’s Globe theatre and Southwark Cathedral where Shakespeare’s brother Edmund is buried between the choir stalls.

Over the weekend there will be 37 screens on the Thames Path between Potters Fields and Jubilee Gardens showing Shakespeare’s plays filmed where he imagined them.

The Duke of Edinburgh, a long supporter of the Globe rebuilding, will be at the cathedral at 11am on Saturday for a special service.

All tickets have gone but the cathedral will be open in the afternoon for viewing of the flowers at the memorial where the Shakespeare effigy holds rosemary ‘for remembrance’.

In the cathedral at 2.30pm Arthur Smith reveals the truth about Shakespeare’s first publishers and Jane and Rick Jones perform lute songs from the plays; admission free.

Queen’s 90th birthday on the Thames

The Queen’s 90th birthday on Thursday 21 April will be marked along the Thames.

A 62 round gun salute will be fired across the Pool of London from the Tower of London at 1pm.

Her Majesty will be at Windsor Castle where she and Prince Philip are due to go into the town.

In the evening the Queen will light a beacon outside the castle. Soon after another will be llt at the Copper Horse at the end of Windsor Great Park’s Long Walk.

The 900 chain of beacons includes one on Wittenham Clumps near Dorchester which should be visible around 8.15pm not only from the River Thames below but as far away as Oxford.

Whistler’s Thames views on show

The largest exhibition of prints by James McNeill Whistler can be seen at the Fine Art Gallery in Bond Street.

James McNeill Whistler Prints as expected includes a significant number of Thames scenes. Most are dated around 1859 and so there is Old Putney Bridge and Old Hungerford Bridge.

The view from Billingsgate Market shows Old London Bridge seen through a row of masts. The location is confirmed by Southwark Cathedral’s tower in the corner. Whistler who spent a lot of time on the south bank would have known it as just Southwark’s large parish church.

Two men sitting in The Angel pub on Bermondsey waterfront have sight of St Paul’s free of skyscrapers upstream.

Other surprises include a view from Chelsea across the water to Price’s candle factory at Battersea.

But Whister also visited the upper Thames. The Storm records driving rain at Mapledurham above Reading. He was on a camping trip and had rowed there from Sunbury with fellow painter and etcher Matthew White Ridley whose painting of the Pool of London is in the Tate collection.

This is an unusually rich exhibition and marks the Society’s 140 anniversary.

James McNeill Whistler Prints continues at the Fine Art Society, 148 New Bond Street
London W1S 2JT, until Thursday 28 April.

TV magician Paul Daniels dies by the River Thames

Paul Daniels has died at his Wargrave home.

He moved to the riverside village in 1998 and enjoyed a view across Shiplake as well as experiencing flooding.

He and his wife Debbie McGee both loved the Thames and faced the flooding with good humour.


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