Jo Cox flower dinghy arrives at Westminster

red boat

The House of Commons’ Serjeant at Arms has given permission for a flower laden dinghy decorated in remembrance of Jo Cox MP to remain on the river in front of the House of Commons.

A barge carrying the family of Jo Cox, and towing the dinghy, left Wapping shortly after 2pm preceded by a police boat and a Port of London launch. A fire boat followed.


Jo Cox ‘s family sail to Westminster

From the Thames Path in London this afternoon (Wednesday 22 June 2016) you may see a craft carrying the family of the late Jo Cox MP who was murdered last week.

Today is her birthday.

The family is sailing at about 3pm from Jo’s houseboat mooring in Wapping, opposite Bermondsey Wall West, upstream through Tower Bridge to Westminster.

Friends will tow a dinghy laden with flowers and tributes which have been left at the Hermitage Moorings where she lived.

The plan is to land at the Palace of Westminster which is something Jo was planning to be able to do daily as an MP in preference to having to cycle along busy streets.

She was trying to overcome security issues about mooring outside the House of Commons. The trip in a rigid inflatable boat takes just ten minutes. She and her immediate family made the trip a week ago with an ‘IN’ flag to counter the Nigel Farage ‘OUT’ flotilla.

The return to river transport for MPs and other visitors to the Palace of Westminster was something many have wanted for some years. It seemed ridiculous that a temporary pontoon had to be used for the annual Parliamentary Regatta when Speaker’s Stairs and Black Rod’s Stairs, at the Lords’ end, were purpose by the Victorians.

Jo knew the Thames very well. She and her husband Brendan once lived on a boat at Port Meadow and moved up and down the non-tidal river. In London their boat rose and fell with the tide and from the capital they recently took their 92 year old houseboat barge out into the Thames estuary.

The party landing today at Westminster will go on to Trafalgar Square where there is memorial gathering at 4pm.

Find Leon behind Tate Modern

Leon on Bankside
Leon on Bankside
View from Leon of the new Switch House
View from Leon of the new Switch House

The Thames Path has another attraction.

The relaunch of Tate Modern with the opening of its new addition with viewing gallery means that there are even more stopping places for refreshment on Bankside.

It is now possible to walk through the middle of the Tate Modern building to the south side.

Directly ahead is a branch of Leon. It has been there for some years and is much loved by locals who have enjoyed not only its healthy reasonable menu but the until now lack of crowds.

It is a little busier now but it still offers a good resting place for refreshment on the Thames Path. The informal self service restaurant (no plates and little cutlery) has chairs and seats outside.

On the way to Leon there is Tate Modern’s new Bar with outside seating.

Tate Bar
Tate Bar
A Leon dish
A Leon dish

Pool of London welcomes RMS St Helena

Passing Rotherhithe
Passing Rotherhithe

Royal Mail Ship St Helena sailed up the River Thames on Tuesday afternoon (7 June) on a farewell visit.

The ship is due to be sold and its regular Cape Town to St Helena voyages carrying the Royal Mail replaced by an aircraft.

It was exactly 4.55pm as RMS St Helena passed through Tower Bridge. Her approach from Tilbury was as the rising tide turned and the tugs manovered her slowly into the Pool of London.

A small group of people standing outside the The Angel near Rotherhithe watched the ship gradually turn into the Upper Pool.

Meanwhile a group of Saints, exiles from St Helena, waited near HMS Belfast to see their Royal Mail ship come home.

Approaching Tower Bridge
Approaching Tower Bridge

Concern about the future of the ship was raised two hours earlier upstream in the House of Lords.

International Development minister Baroness Verma was questioned by Lord Foulkes about the failure of the replacement air service. The new airport is experiencing crosswinds and no commercial aircraft has landed.

The minister said that the government was “looking at potential providers” but meanwhile the sea service would continue.

Three more return trips from Cape town are planned with the last scheduled for 9 September.

Lord Shutt said that the RMS St Helena should not be sold.

Admiral Lord West spoke of the importance of “a regular presence in waters which belong to us”.

Lord Collins asked if there had been a risk assessment before the contract for building of the new airport was agreed. The minister indicated that there had been.

Princess Anne will visit RMS St Helena in the Pool of London on Wednesday.

Tower Bridge is due to lift at 5.45pm on Friday 10 June for the departure of RMS St Helena.

* The new Cicerone guide Walking The Thames Path is this month available at 25% discount and post free.


RMS St Helena is alongside HMS Belfast until Friday
RMS St Helena is alongside HMS Belfast until Friday

Thames Path 20th anniversary walk

The Thames Path opened twenty years ago on 24 July 1996.

This anniversary year 2016 is being marked by a baton relay from source to beyond the Thames Barrier.

The first walk is from Kemble to Cricklade. There are sixteen stages with the numner of walkers limited to fifty persons.

The start is on Saturday 7 July in order that the climax can come on Sunday 24 July – the actual anniversary.

But this will be marked by arriving at Slade Green Station near Erith because this where unofficially the Thames Path (although not the official national trail) now starts.

The walkers will arrive at the Thames Barrier, where the grand opening took place, on Saturday 23 July.

On that first day twenty years ago those of us who had long worked on the path and written guides, including David Sharp and me, walked from Greenwich to be welcomed at the Barrier. Some houses near The Trafalgar Tavern had decorated their front doors for the occasion.

More details on how to join in any one of the walks forming the 2016 relay led by The Ramblers are here.

The new edition of the Cicerone guide Walking The Thames Path includes the new alternative start at Erith.

For the first time the book comes with a 1:25000 route map booklet which also includes the new section.

The new book is available direct from Cicerone at 25% discount post free until 30 June 2016.