Historic Teddington boathouse ‘under threat’

The Velma Boathouse near Broom Water at Teddington is thought to have an uncertain future following proposals to move the two-storey building and redevelop the site.

The boathouse was built in 1884 by physician John Langdon Down who lived in nearby Broom Close and gave his name to Down’s syndrome.

Broom Water is a natural creek which was extended three times its length twenty years before the boathouse was erected on the Thames bank.

The boathouse is just upstream of Broom Water and opposite Stevens Eyot. Here the Thames Path is on the opposite bank where  Kingston’s Boaters Inn is found.
Press reports highlight a move by English Heritage to list the charming building.


Should the Thames Path start in Kent?

The Thames Path national trail starts at the Thames Barrier but there is now a viable and mainly riverside path which starts downstream at Erith.

However, Chris Smith is suggesting pushing further east into Kent and through Gravesend. His route, called Kentish Thames Walk, would start next the Isle of Grain where the lonely London Stone can be seen near the riverbank.

The significance of the London Stone is that it is the end of the old Corporation of London river jurisdiction which started here and ended at Staines where there is another London Stone.

If a bridge can be installed over the River Darent there could be an almost continuous path which avoids Dartford.

Where should the Thames Path start?

The London Stone is a reasonable suggestion since going further east would be very difficult. The wide confluence with the Medway is a barrier.

Looking across the Thames from the Isle of Grain there is Leigh-on-Sea so it can be claimed that here the river is becoming estuary.

Or the Thames Path start could be Gravesend which is the last town and ancient ferry crossing on the river. It also has good transport links.

Chris describes the river near Dartford as “the wild, wide, working Thames, frightening in its potential power” and quite unlike Gloucestershire.

Osney Lock: Temporary footbridge

A temporary bridge has been installed at Oxford’s Osney Lock to keep the Thames Path open whilst work on the lock is completed over the winter.

The two weirs are being refurbished and a hydro installed to generate enough electricity to power more than 50 houses.

Some of the weir timber has been dated back to 1883. The lock is expected to reopen by the end of February.


Bugsby’s Reach to be renamed Watermen’s

Bugsby’s Reach is to be renamed Watermen’s Reach.

This change, which appears to have the support of the Port of London Authority, takes place  next year to mark the 500th anniversary of the Watermen’s Company.

Bugsby’s Reach is the name of the River Thames between Woolwich Reach (where the Thames Barrier was built) and Blackwall Reach where the river turns south by the O2.

This first reach of the Thames Path has been known as Bugsby’s for almost 200 years. Who was Bugsby? He may have been a market gardener on the Greenwich Peninsula where one of the roads is called Bugsby’s Way.

The change is a surprise and many will say confusing.


St Edmund’s Day

Archbishop of Canterbury St Edmund of Abingdon grew up by the Thames which he knew well at home and at Oxford where a college is named after him.

He was born on 20 November 1174 and died on 16 November 1240.

Death came in France where he is buried at Pontigny Abbey.

Today Saturday 16 November 2013 is St Edmund’s Day as well as St Margaret’s Day.