Path about to close at Blackfriars

By the end of this week the Thames Path will close between Tate Modern and Blackfriars Bridge and stay closed until New Year 2012.

The closure was delayed until the annual Thames Festival last weekend.

The riverside work is part of building a south bank entrance to Blackfriars Station which will now span the river on the existing railway bridge.

The diversion is being signed down Hopton Street, right into Southwark Street and right again into Blackfriars Road to reach Blackfriars Bridge.

There is also some extra signage pointing unhelpfully to non-existent toilets.

The Founders Arms pub is remaining open.

See page 34.

Another Eel Pie Island blaze

Reports of a blaze on Eel Pie Island over the weekend will have concerned many. We all knew it must be serious as a fire boat was called upstream. Unfortunately it was low tide on Saturday night which did not help with pumping.

We now know that the house which has burnt down belongs to architect Clive Chapman who has worked on several local projects including one for Twickenham riverside. The remains of his house, which he designed, can be seen from the towpath.

The disaster brings back memories of Eel Pie Island Hotel which burnt down in 1971 and another serious fire on the island in the 1990s.

Inventor Trevor Baylis who also lives on the island said that the flames were above the trees.

See page 61.

Syon lion missing

Walking downstream from Richmond to Kew this afternoon I was surprised to see -I had to look twice- that the lion was missing from the top of Syon House. I wondered about my eyesight.

This evening I learn that I was not mistaken. The lion was lifted down in March for restoration.

The lion is the crest of the Percy family, better known as the Duke of Northumberland family, and this big version dates from 1749. He first stood downstream on the top of riverside Northumberland House which gave way to Northumberland Avenue off Trafalgar Square. Since the 1874 he has been on the roof of the Duke’s country house at Syon.


At Kew Green I found a cricket match and the church open. On the way to the station I called in at the teashop in Kew Road to buy  some Maids of Honour cakes which are made to a secret Tudor recipe. Back home I warmed them up as instructed. Delicious.

Vital Shiplake link ‘to reopen’

Very good news on the front page of South East Walker.

‘New path opens up a mile of Thames riverside’ says the headline.

I had been waiting for the result of a public inquiry over a disputed path at Shiplake linking the road with the isolated towpath.

I can remember in the 1980s walking from Shiplake Station into Mill Road where I turned left at the wooden Lashbrook Mission Room. This path led to open ground and the river.

Unfortunately the path was not on the definitive map when the Thames Path was opened and a new landowner disputed the path status. This why the Thames Path misses out a long and lovely stretch of towpath opposite Wargrave.

A government inspector has now confirmed an order made by Oxfordshire County Council to add the path to the map.

A confirmation order will be posted within the next few weeks and, providing there is no appeal, the path should be declared to be part of the Thames Path  sometime next year.

See page 121.