Walton Bridge to be rebuilt after 70 year delay

A plan for a new Walton Bridge has been approved by Environment Secretary Hilary Benn.

The present crossing is a temporary Bailey Bridge dating from 1953. It was erected following 1940 war damage. Earlier more attractive bridges here were painted by Canaletto and Turner.

The existing bridge will remain in place whilst the new one is built alongside over the coming years. The deadline is 2014.

The lavatory block on Cowey Sale, the Walton Bank with the Thames Path, is to be replaced by a cafe and toilets.

See page 70.

Good cafe at Putney Church

Following last year’s Putney Debates festival at Putney Parish Church I thought it was the right time to check out its new permanent exhibition which is the festival legacy.

Although the Thames Path signage at Putney still directs downstream walkers away from the river and along Putney Bridge Road this is out of date. St Mary’s Putney is on the Thames Path. Indeed the path loops round the back.

The church is famous for the Putney Debates staged in 1647 by Cromwellians during the civil war. The participants’ radical ideas were too radical for Cromwell but their principles were incorporated into the American constitution. Leading lawyer Geoffrey Robertson and television historian Tristram Hunt both rate the event as very significant.

The free exhibition is not only a fascinating account of the debates but gives the background to the church building and the riverside village of Putney. Well worth seeing is the Bishop West chantry chapel built for him during his lifetime by the masons working on St George’s chapel at Windsor. The bishop was the son of a Putney fishmonger. It is interesting to find that his arms in the church include a fine pomegranate insignia as he was chaplain to Catherine of Aragon who also used the pomegranate as a crest.

Entry to the church is through the cafe which is a perfect stop for coffee or lunch. Soup and crusty bread is £4.95. I had homemade fish cakes, chips and salad for £6. If you are starting out at Putney it’s worth knowing about “chef’s UBER breakfast (mega size)” at £7.

The cafe is open daily 8.30am-6.30pm; Sat 9.30am-6pm & Sun 10.30am-6pm.

Sunday Eucharist is at 10am when you might recognise the Vicar as he is Giles Fraser who has a regular slot on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

See pages 46-49.

Thames Path walk listings

Thames Path Guided Events Programme covering March to September 2008 is now available. 

The programme, produced by the National Trails Office, features guided walks and events taking place on the Thames Path.   

Experienced National Trails volunteers, local walking groups and representatives from other organizations lead the walks, the majority of which are free of charge.  There are also suggestions for visitors to follow their own itinerary by combining a walk with other leisure activities such as visiting museums or a flour mill.

The listings are available on the Ridgeway and Thames Path national trails websites.