Garrick’s Villa damaged by fire

News of the very severe fire at Garrick’s Villa in Hampton is a shock. 

Famous actor Richard Garrick bought the house in 1754 and twenty years later employed Robert Adam to make major alterations. 

The fire could be seen from the towpath on the opposite bank at midday today.

The grounds are divided by the road so the riverside Garrick’s Shakespeare Temple, which the actor built in 1755 as a tribute to William Shakepeare, is safe.

It’s good to hear that nobody has been hurt. Let’s hope that enough of the building is left to allow for a restoration.  

See page 68.

Good Pub Guide’s 2009 recommendations

The Good Pub Guide 2009 published this week highlights as always some Thames pubs.

The Baskerville Arms at Shiplake is in the Oxford chapter along with, much further upstream, The Trout at Godstow. This has become expensive and rather too upmarket inrecent years although it is very good to see that bar food is available all day.

In Gloucestershire it is depressing to read that anyone dining outside at Ewen’s Wild Duck must leave their credit card behind the bar.

The best pub is at the end of the Thames Path. This is the Tunnel House at Coates near the source which is described as an “eccentric bow-fronted stone house”. It sounds unchanged and as good as ever and deserves its mention.

The Good Pub Guide 2009, edited by Alisdair Aird and Fiona Stapley, is published by Ebury (£15.99).

Thames Path to link to Thames Estuary Path

A London to sea Thames Estuary Path is now government policy. 

The Thames Gateway Parklands Vision was launched this week by architect Sir Terry Farrell, the Government’s Parklands design champion, at the Thames Gateway Green Forum.

Speaking alongside Sir Terry at the Royal Horticulural Hall, Housing Minister Iain Wright said that urban parks, marshlands, waterways and green spaces will be as integral as housing, jobs and commerce in the Thames Gateway of the future. 

A Thames Estuary Path, a continuous link on both banks of the estuary from the Isle of Dogs to the coastal path network, exists in places as the Parklands Vision document published last Thursday acknowledges. 

It seems realistic when it suggests that “there are some unavoidable obstructions in some locations along the water’s edge. It is essential that diversions away from the river are of the highest possible quality”.

One interesting passage reads: “Hinterland connections could function as alternative routes in the event of unusually high tides.” 

The Thames Path National Trail has already been unofficially extended east on the south side as far as Erith. The very last stretch to Margate in Kent exists as the Saxon Shore Way.

In 1980, when I was asked by Thames Water to start work on a Thames Path feasibility study, the London end was to be Westminster Bridge. This was soon extended to  the Barrier. 

In my report, eventually published by the Countryside Commission in 1984, I suggested that “the Walk could be extended downstream to Essex and Kent”. Nearly thirty years later it’s good to see the full route now being seriously discussed. 

The main aim should be to achieve the easier southern route.

Chambers Wharf demolition starts on Bermondsey Wall

Demolition has begun on  Chambers Wharf ready for a new development which will restore the riverside path along Bermondsey Wall.

Chambers Wharf lies between Rotherhithe and St Saviour’s Dock near Tower Bridge. At present walkers have to divert along Chambers Street at the back . 

On Wednesday Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat MP for Southwark North and Bermondsey, joined representatives from property development company St Martin’s on the four acre site to mark the official start of the first phase of work. 

The present cold store has recently been used for document storage. The major residential scheme will provide 200 affordable homes.

See page 26.