Shiplake: Diversion route at Marsh Lock changed

Due to the failure of the Environment Agency to repair the wooden horse bridge at Henley’s Marsh Lock there is a new diversion.

This more severe, and at times depressing, 2.7 mile route is necessary as landowner Culden Faw Estate has run out of patience.

For more than a year the estate provided a handy diversion near the river but this has now been withdrawn in an attempt to persuade the Environment Agency to start work.

The Environment Agency is the latest successor to Thames Conservancy which from 1857 to 1974 maintained an experienced in-house work force familiar with the river and able to monitor structures.

The new diversion between Marsh Lock bridge and The Baskerville Arms in Shiplake is explained with a downloadable sheet on the National Trail website


Bambers Steps

Bambers Steps at Richmond

Bambers Steps at Richmond have been named after Thames-side resident Bamber Gascoigne who died two years ago today.

The television personalty, known for his role in University Challenge, lived by the river in Richmond and often swam from the steps.

The water access is found at the end of the length of towpath known as Cholmondeley Way at its meeting with Friars Lane just before The White Cross pub.

The steps at Bambers Steps.
Looking downstream across Bambers Steps from the towpath.

Last chance to visit Deptford’s pie shop

When the Thames Path opened 28 years ago walkers could choose between two pie and mash shops in Deptford High Street.

But this year will be the last chance to enjoy pie and mash in Deptford as it has been announced that the surviving one will close early next year 2025.

Manze’s at 204 Deptford High Street, on the corner of Lamerton Street, opened in 1914 having been founded by Michele Manze from Ravello in Italy who had intended selling ice cream.

The shop is now owned by his grandson George Mascall who is anxious to retire having worked there for 45 years.

The small building is listed Grade II by Historic England for its traditional seating, white tile walls and marble tables. The Twentieth Century Society held its Christmas lunch there last year.

If you are not stopping for lunch at the Dog & Bell on the path it might be worth keeping ahead inland for 300 yards to experience the pie and mash shop for a last time.

Manze’s is open Wednesday to Saturday 9.30am-2pm. The meat pies are handmade daily to a secret recipe.


Blessing the River

Blessing the river in 2023

The 2024 Blessing the River from London Bridge will be on Sunday 14 January at 12.15pm.

This year’s slightly later date is due to The Epiphany (6 January) falling at a weekend resulting in church calendars moving ‘Twelfth Night’ on a day to Sunday 7 January. This displaced the Baptism of Christ Sunday which is the usual blessing of river day.

Next Sunday 14 January processions will set out simultaneously shortly before 12.30pm from Southwark Cathedral on the south bank and St Magnus the Martyr Church in the City to the north.

Charles Dickens had these two churches in mind when he wrote ‘the tower of old Saint Saviour’s Church, and the spire of Saint Magnus, so long the giant-warders of the ancient bridge’.

The stone London Bridge begun in 1176 was dedicated to St Thomas Becket and had a chapel in the middle of the downstream side. The pavement ran under the tower of St Magnus.

Prayers will be offered for those working on the river.

The Cross before being hurled into the water in 2023

Swindon-Lechlade bus restored

Pulhams Coaches is now operating a route 64 between Swindon and Lechlade.

This is the restoration of a bus service used by walkers in the past.

There are four buses out of Swindon and three from Lechlade daily except Sundays.

The timetable shows a bus arriving in Lechlade at 9.31am which could be handy for those travelling by train to Swindon on a Saturday. The last bus from Lechlade is at 4.51pm.

The new route is featured with the timetable in Bus And Train User.


Evensong live from Greenwich

Thames Path in front of Old Royal Naval College, University of Greenwich

Choral Evensong comes live on BBC Radio 3 this Wednesday 4 October from Greenwich’s Old Royal Naval College Chapel.

If you are passing on the Thames Path and wish to attend you should be seated by 3.45pm for the 4pm start.

The service, sung by the chapel choir, is led by the Revd Stephen Stavrou, vicar of upstream St Michael & All Angels church by Barnes Bridge.


Benson Ferry latest

Benson Lock

The Benson Ferry (Benson Lock to Benson Waterfront) is at present running daily 9.30am to 6pm.

Upstream walkers should cross the downstream lock gate and bear left past the lock cottage for the ferry point. The wait is usually about 15 minutes at most.

One way fare: £2

Dogs allowed.

Further updates will appear on Benson Ferry Facebook.

The ferry link is the alternative to the official diversion on road from Wallingford to Benson whilst the weir crossing at Benson Lock remains closed.


Platform for Boat Race starting post

University Boat Race starting post

A long line has been added to the UBR stone on Putney Embankment.

The University Boat Race starting post has been moved slightly forward to allow for a large viewing platform to be built behind.

The starting line runs across the new land reclaimed from the Thames as a result of the Thames Tideway, or Super Sewer, project.

The new space running out into the water includes a ventilation column disguised as a tall sculpture.

The next University Boat Race is on Easter weekend Saturday 30 March.

There is a similar UBR stone on Thames Bank at Mortlake marking the finishing line.

The new starting line for the Boat Race
The ventilation column
The Boat Race starting point platform is between Putney Bridge and Putney Pier.

Great Globe cleaned

The Great Globe on Thursday 7 September days before being steam cleaned

The Great Globe made at Greenwich and now at Durlston Head in Dorset has been steamed cleaned for the first time.

The cleaning of the Portland stone carving was undertaken by stonemason Ian Viney.

Pictures of the Great Globe looking as new as when it stood by the Thames in 1887 have been published by Swanage News.

The large stone globe, ten feet in diameter, was the idea of stone merchant George Burt of Swanage whose London base was Granite Wharf on the Greenwich Peninsula. Purbeck stone, which had been loaded at Swanage, was unloaded on Granite Wharf.

The fifteen segment globe would have been welcome ballast for a return journey.

Earlier Burt’s uncle George Mowlem, who was also from Swanage, built many of London’s Victorian buildings with the stone.

Granite Wharf on Greenwich Peninsula was recently replaced by flats but a plaque on the Thames Path recalls the many spare stones which 0nce formed a boundary wall.

Durlston is near Swanage and the Great Globe is displayed below Durlston Castle which in summer has been likened to the Amalfi coastline.

Plaque indicating the location of Granite Wharf on Greenwich Peninsula.
Granite Wharf with a symbolic wall and plaque
View from Durlston Castle

Waverley at Swanage

Paddle Steamer Waverley passing Southwark’s Wellington Tower at Swanage today

The Waverley paddle steamer has arrived at Swanage on her way to London.

She will be coming up the River Thames on Saturday evening 23 September.

An unexpected easterly wind prevented a planned berthing at Poole Quay last night but today in perfect weather the steamer moored at Swanage Pier.

There she was opposite the Wellington Tower which used to stand in the middle of the road on the south end of London Bridge.

Later this month the Waverley will turn immediately downstream of London Bridge.

The tower was originally a clock tower but when moved to Swanage in 1867 it arrived without its clock. The spire was lost in 1904.

Transportation from the capital was untaken by George Burt who shipped Purbeck stone from Swanage to Granite Wharf on the Greenwich Peninsula. For return trips he needed ballast and the dismantled Wellington Tower, which had proved unpopular with increased horse-drawn traffic on the bridge, was ideal.

The tower on the end of London Bridge next to the former priory which is now Southwark Cathedral