Next Sunday 12 January will see the annual blessing of the River Thames on London Bridge.
This is London’s oldest river crossing point and this year has an added resonance since it is where the recent terrorist attack took place.
On Sunday 12 January, Baptism of Christ Sunday, processions will set out from St Magnus the Martyr Church in the City (the old Bridge pavement runs under its tower) and Southwark Cathedral to meet at 12.30pm in front of The Monument at London Bridge’s north end.
Here there will be a ceremony for the Removal of Flowers laid following the deaths of Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones in the terror attack.
(The floral tributes will be made into compost to be made available to the families of the victims.)
The processions will then merge to proceed to the middle of London Bridge for the River Blessing.
After prayers, for those who work on the river and have died in the water, a wooden cross will be thrown down to the rising water as in the Orthodox tradition.
The bridge once had a chapel on its middle downstream side dedicated to St Thomas Becket whose 850th anniversary is this year.
During 2020 many Becket pilgrims will be setting out from here to Canterbury on foot whilst others will be walking upstream on the Thames Path which passes below the south end.
Earlier on Sunday morning a decorated cross will be hurled into the Thames estuary at Margate and retrieved by members of the Kent Greek community in the presence of the Greek Orthodox Archbishop.
The future of much loved weeping willows on the Greenwich Peninsula appears to be uncertain.
The trees, existing and renewed at least since 1970s, are alongside the Thames Path just as it returns to the river after Bay Wharf. The path with trees is on the former Primrose Wharf at the northern end of Morden Wharf.
In recent times terraced beds were created and planted with reeds.
There are more than a dozen weeping willow and crack willow trees on the river bank.
A planning application for the site has been submitted for “Provision of hardstanding and wheel washing facilities, conveyor belts and associated refurbishment works to jetty, and revised boundary treatment”.
This involves overhead conveyors.
At present the trees do not appear to be safeguarded.
St Saviour’s Dock footbridge will be closing on Tuesday 3 and Wednesday 4 December from 9am to 3.30pm.
This is to allow for further restoration work on the crossing.
The alternative route is:
At the west end of Bermondsey Wall West, bear left to follow Mill Street past Vogan’s Mill to the main road.
Holy Trinity Church Dockhead is to the left. Go right past the Co-op to have a good view (right) down St Saviour’s Dock.
Go right again to enter Shad Thames which into the late 20th century was noted for a strong smell of spices. Here are Jamaica Wharf, St Andrew’s Wharf and Java Wharf.
At the far end the road bears round to the left past Tea Trade Wharf (right) and under a bridge (the old Design Museum) to a junction. Turn right up steps for the River Thames and rejoin the main route on Butler’s Wharf.
The Pilgrim Fathers sculpture at Rotherhithe has been relit by the restoration of its lamp.
The artwork, placed at the upstream end of Cumberland Wharf, is encountered by walkers as they turn inland to go through Rotherhithe village.
Rotherhithe resident Peter McClean who created the work in 1991 was present on the Thames Path just after dark last Saturday to see the integral lamp turned on.
The work is called The Sunbeam Weekly and the Pilgrim’s Pocket because it depicts an open mouthed ‘back from the dead’ Pilgrim Father looking in astonishment over the shoulder of an early 20th-century boy reading a copy of The Sunbeam Weekly.
The two figures were originally standing under a lamp post.
This light has been replaced with a working replicas now shining ready for next year’s 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim Fathers leaving Rotherhithe for America.
The light restoration is the result of pressure by local activist and historian Sheila Taylor and funding from Southwark Council.
The switch-on countdown was led by technology entrepreneur and philanthropist Michael Tobin.
The information board alongside has recently been updated following research by Bermondsey historian Debra Gosling.
Twenty years ago the Queen and the President of Hungary dined at the Compleat Angler by the Thames.
The hotel terrace is alongside Marlow Bridge which is why the venue was chosen.
William Tierney Clark, who had designed Hammersmith Bridge in the 1820s, was the engineer for Marlow Bridge completed in 1832.
Budapest’s landmark Széchenyi Chain Bridge across the River Danube, linking Buda and Pest, is also the work of Clark. In 1839 he designed a large scale version of his Marlow work for the city. It took ten years to build.