Improved route at Vauxhall

Changes at St George Wharf alongside Vauxhall Bridge mean that there is a slight improvement in the Thames Path route.

Having passed under Vauxhall Bridge from the MI6 building there is no need to go up on to the bridge approach. Traffic can be avoided for a little longer.

Walkers emerging from the tunnel should now keep ahead along the St George Wharf frontage. At the new Young’s Riverside pub turn inland to reach steps leading down to the main road. Go right past Tesco and Brunswick House (swathed in scaffolding) and follow the pavement back to the river.

It is always a pleasure to pass the 18th-century Brunswick House which is now open as a shop selling architectural salvage. But eventually, when the St George development is completed, the Thames Path will run along the entire riverside here and avoid the Vauxhall traffic.

Spencer collection moved to Reading

The Spencer Gallery at Cookham has closed for refurbishment until June 2007.

Meanwhile the Gallery’s entire collection of Stanley Spencer’s paintings and drawings is on view at Reading Museum until 22 April.

Each Saturday custodians from the Stanley Spencer Gallery will be in the exhibition to chat to visitors about his work and Cookham where he lived.

Reading Museum is open Tue-Sat 10am-4pm and Sun 11am-4pm. It will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

New Chambers Wharf to include the Thames Path

Plans have been unveiled to open up the riverside at Chambers Wharf at Bermondsey in central London.

At present there is no river view and walkers are forced to turn inland and follow Loftie Street and the long Chambers Street (page 26) round the back of a cold store.

Initial proposals by the St Martin’s Property Group include a wide riverside path alongside a new public garden. This would allow the Thames Path to continue with the river from Fountain Green Square on the east side to within a few yards of East Lane Stairs on the west side.

The new development plan comprises of eight buildings with a total of 750 residential apartments including studios and three bedroom flats.

The cold store was built in the 1930s and has recently been used for document storage. It was the erection of this huge warehouse which split the continuous Bermondsey Wall lane into Bermondsey Wall East and Bermondsey Wall West.

The new Chambers Wharf riverside garden would be flanked on the north side by the Thames Path and on the south by an extended Bermondsey Wall lane on its original line.

If Southwark Council grants planning permission next year, building work will begin in 2008. The new path could be opened in 2013.

Greenwich pie shop closes

Goddard’s Pie House in Greenwich is closing having been run by three generations of the Goddard family.

The shop which was open every day has been popular with walkers wanting a cheap filling meal served speedily. The menu had not only pie and mash but also fruit pies for a pudding course.

Tables were often crowded and it was sometimes necessary to go upstairs to find a seat. Many foreign visitors sought it out.

Closure has come as a surprise. The building was saved from demolition when the Docklands Light Railway was extended across the river from the Isle of Dogs. The new station was squeezed into a small space leaving the popular pie shop unscathed.

Indeed the vegetarian pie was called a Banks Pie in honour of vegetarian Tony Banks who in 2000 had the building listed when he was a minister.

The last day of trading is Sunday 12 November when the shop is due to close at 7pm. The building will reopen later this year as a branch of the small upmarket Gourmet Burger Kitchen chain.

Deptford’s Borthwick Wharf appeal fails

The Borthwick Wharf campaigners have been refused leave to appeal in the High Court at a hearing before Lord Justice Moses.

The judge concluded that demolition of the riverside building in Deptford does not need planning permission and that the planning authority cannot prevent it.

There is a fear that demolition will commence shortly although Greenwich Council is not expected to confirm approval for the new development for some weeks.

Updates will be posted here.

Deptford route change and demolition threat

There is a minor change of route for the Thames Path at Deptford which will keep the way nearer the river.

Just after Deptford Creek, the route turns inland at the Ahoy Centre. But instead of continung south along Deptford Green you now walk behind the Ahoy Centre along Borthwick Street.

After passing behind Borthwick Wharf there is a junction with Watergate Street. The river is along the walled passage to the right which runs between the 18th-century Master Shipwright’s House (west) and Payne’s and Borthwick Wharves (east).

The Thames Path continues to the left. Later go right into Princes Street to rejoin the old route at the Dog & Bell.

BORTHWICK DEMOLITION THREAT
However, Borthwick Wharf is under threat and only remains standing thanks to a tremporary injunction obtained at the High Court last Friday.

Developers are proposing an 18 storey tower on the riverside and a 9 storey block fronting Borthwick Street.

The neighbouring 19th-century Payne’s Wharf will retain its Italiante arches fronting the river.

Donations to Borthwick’s Fighting Fund should be made payable to ‘Creekside Forum’ and sent to:
John Taylor
Creekside Forum
St Nicholas Church
Deptford Green
LONDON
SE8 3DQ

To receive campaign updates email: creeksidecf@freeuk.com

020 8692 5666

Henley towpath unexpectedly blocked during festival

“The Henley Festival appears to have blocked the Thames towpath, a popular national trail, without lawful authority” declares the Open Spaces Society’s local activist David Parry who visited the site yesterday and today (3 and 4 July).

“The festival has consent to close the path during the performances, starting at 5.45 pm on Wednesday 5 July. It does not have consent to close the path before that” says David speaking from the OSS nearby office in Henley.

“Indeed, earlier this year, it did apply to close the route for an unprecedented seven days but it withdrew that application after receiving a barrage of objections. Now, it has pigheadedly decided to close the path anyway, and is trying to get away with it.”

“There is a wire fence across the route and walkers are required to deviate from the river and around the back of the festival enclosures” David explains.

“This is unpleasant and annoying for the many walkers of this prestigious, long-distance path, which is especially enjoyed by those with disabilities because it is flat and smooth.”

The OSS has called on Wokingham District Council, the highway authority, to investigate the matter and to require the festival to reopen the route until the official closure starts at 5.45 pm on Wednesday.

Thames gardens’ open days

Several riverside gardens on or near the Thames Path are open this summer as part of the National Gardens Scheme.

Sutton Courtenay Manor, a former grange of Abingdon Abbey and once home of Observer editor David Astor, opens its garden above the water meadows on Sunday afternoon 25 June. A new garden in the grounds of 17th-century Radcot House, just north of Radcot Bridge, will be open afternoons over 2-3 September weekend.

Ewen Manor, the last big residence before the Thames source, is open 11am-4pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays until 29 June.

The garden openings are listed in the 2006 edition of The Yellow Book (£7.99) and on www.ngs.org.uk

Grandpont House and Opus Dei

Leigh Hatts writes: In writing a paragraph about Oxford’s riverside Grandpont House I tried to concentrate on history rather than now. But maybe I subbed too much by just saying of today “it remains a residence”.

Since 1959 it has been the residence for male members of the now well-known Opus Dei. Indeed the house was visited by the Opus Dei founder St Josemaría Escrivá in August 1958.

This is just another chapter in the fascinating history of the house which has part of the Thames flowing underneath. It is also a candidate for the site of the town’s ox-ford although in the book I suggest upstream Binsey Ford could be the original.

Worrall Thompson to sell Shiplake cottages

Antony Worrall Thompson is leaving historic Rivermead Cottages in Shiplake near Henley.

The celebrity chef has put the early 19th-century long building in Mill Lane up for sale and is moving to a larger property nearby. The row of cottages, built for workers at Shiplake Mill, was purchased by his grandfather and gradually turned into a single home during the last century. Antony grew up there and recently has been growing fruit and vegetables and raising pigs in the waterside garden which is known to flood.

At Shiplake Mill neither the towpath nor the Thames Path run through gardens. Instead the national trail follows fields between the main village street and the mill.

From the Sea to the Source