Fireworks in Clink Street

Clink Street in Southwark which forms part of the Thames Path has a daily ‘fireworks’ display.

The long dark tunnel under the railway used to be a reminder of Dickens’ days. From this week there is extra lighting in the form of a light show every evening.

Also new this week is a branch of Le Pain Quotidien which you will find in Blow’s Yard. Once in Clink Street go left up Stoney Street and left again into Winchester Walk to find the Belgian cafe. It has a communal table for anyone on their own.

See page 33.

Catching eels in London

A reminder that the River Thames is a living waterway comes with news that Environment Agency fisheries enforcement officers have seized three illegal nets on the tidal Thames in London.

An Environment Agency river patrol uncovered the nets last week at Greenwich. Among the nets found was an unattended gillnet, which can trap fish and wildfowl, and two homemade traps.

There is a licensed eel net fishery which stretches up to Tower Bridge and has developed as water quality in the Thames has improved.

Carl Rasey, an Environment Agency fisheries enforcement officer, said: “These discoveries are disappointing, as legitimate eel netsmen respect the rules.

“Whoever has set these traps is in breach of an emergency close season and has also allowed them to dry out, which is a separate offence. Whilst these traps are primarily set for eels, they often catch a range of other species which will die if the traps are left exposed at low tide.

“Eel populations are declining across Europe but if we want to ensure that Thames eel fisheries continue to be sustainable then this sort of irresponsible behaviour is unacceptable. We would urge anyone who sees suspicious-looking traps to contact us immediately.”

There are just fifteen people licensed to use nets or traps to take eels in the tidal Thames. A condition is that the fishermen send in catch-returns detailing what has been caught during the year.

The close season for netting and trapping eel is between 1 October and 31 March.

Turbine test at Chiswick

An unexpected object on the foreshore just upstream of Chiswick Eyot may appear shortly and be around for up to a year.

It’s a model of a tidal turbine which is being tested prior to a full-scale prototype being tried in the open seas.

The spot is between the eyot and the slipway at the church.

See page 52.

Thames Tunnel may involve Thames Path diversions

The sudden announcement that Thames Water must build a major new sewer has caught out London Boroughs who knew nothing of the imminent plan.

The tunnel needs to follow the route of the River Thames so that the pipe can be connected to the combined sewer overflows that are located along the riverbanks. The Thames Tunnel will protect the River Thames from increasing pollution.

The Thames Path will be affected in at least two places needed for works: King’s Stairs in Rotherhithe and Tideway Walk between Vauxhall and Battersea Bridges where the barge Maria is moored.

Downstream a worksite is planned next to The Ship at Wandsworth Bridge although this will not affect the line of path. Barn Elms will also have a worksite next to the towpath.

The reserve list of sites includes Durand’s Wharf (near Surrey Docks Farm) which was closed once before for the Jubilee Line construction. On that occasion the Thames Path was diverted on to the road.

King’s Stairs Campaign

Residents in Rotherhithe have been looking at how the works site at King’s Stairs Gardens would change the riverside during and after the works.

The wide grass area between the arcaded path and the Angel pub would be closed for seven years. The Thames Path would probably be diverted down Elephant Way and along Paradise Street close to St Peter’s Church.

Afterwards there would be an above ground  ventilation shaft with vehicle access.

The Save King’s Stairs Gardens campaign has started a petition.

See page 25.

Wandsworth riverside improvements

Today was a lovely sunny October day and perfect for walking so I went to check out the changes at Wandsworth.

After passing under Wandsworth Railway Bridge and returning to the river one can now stay by the water for most of the time. There is no need to see the main road again.

At Falcon Wharf you continue ahead to a new path which runs inland down the side of Battersea Heliport. A right turn takes you past an hotel before a return to the water. You do miss Prices Candle Factory which is maybe a pity but the Thames Path stays by the water all the say to new steps at Wandsworth Bridge.

Traffic crossing the river was unrelenting as always so you must go left down to the traffic lights at the junction to get across the road and then walk back up the other side to reach steps leading to Pier Terrace and The Ship. It’s an annoying diversion but there is a handy McDonald’s at the junction.

See pages 43 & 44.

Lambeth’s Community Toilet Scheme

Lack of public conveniences is a major issue on Bankside and the South Bank in central London.

There are no public lavatories at Borough Market.

Walkers will be pleased to know that the Garden Museum next to Lambeth Palace allows free use of its toilets as part of Lambeth Council’s Community Toilet Scheme. The museum is paid an annual fee and you don’t have to pay the admission charge.

And you can visit the cafe without paying the entrance fee.

See page 39.

Hammersmith may spoil view from Barnes towpath

The view from the Barnes towpath just upstream of Hammersmith Bridge is of Upper Mall and Furnival Gardens with its old houses known to JWM Turner, HG Wells and Graham Greene. Artists now living there include Sir Peter Blake.

From the rural feel towpath you think that Hammersmith across the water is a small town.

That illusion is under threat from a plan to build 14-storey ¬†blocks inland in King Street. As many as 320 ‘luxury’ flats would loom behind the riverside scene.

Next week there is a protest meeting staged by a group calling itself Save Our Skyline.

To see the effect of the planned development look here.

See page 51.