All posts by Leigh Hatts

Rotherhithe: Finnish Fair

Fair & cafe in Rotherhithe’s Finnish Church until Sunday

The Finnish Church at Rotherhithe is open this lunchtime with lovely food as part of its Christmas Fair.

The church is in Albion Street -cross the road from the station near the river- where Friday to Sunday there is a Scandinavian Christmas Market with more food.

The Norwegian Church Christmas Fair also runs Friday to Sunday in the same street.

Rotherhithe lamp

The sculpture on Cumberland Wharf with light again

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.

Peter McClean watching the ceremony from the riverside


Marlow & Budapest linked by bridges

Traffic flows more easily on the wide bridge in Budapest than the original in Marlow. (Photo: James Hatts)

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.

Plaques in Budapest record the link.

The plaque in Budapest mentions William Tierney Clark and Marlow. (Photo: James Hatts)
The plaque installed by the Danube in 1998 and a matching one has been next to Hammersmith Bridge since 2014. (Photo: James Hatts)

Streatley: Best Budget Hotel

The Swan at Streatley is one of The Sunday Times 100 Great British Hotels.

Most are expensive, especially for a walker wanting just a sleep and not a health club, but The Swan is The Best Budget Hotel winner.

“…agreeable nooks, booths with Thames views and a terrace. The menu sounds standard -burgers, pizza, pasta- but is executed with aplomb.”

Doubles at The Swan are from £70.

Fighting Temeraire on new £20 bank note

JMW Turner’s painting The Fighting Temeraire is to feature on the new £20 bank note.

Confirmation of the suggestion made three years ago was given this morning at the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate where Bank of England Governor Mark Carney announced that the note will be issued on Thursday 20 February 2020.

The painting, in the National Gallery, shows the Trafalgar ship in 1838 being towed up the Thames to be broken up at Bull Head Dock Wharf in Rotherhithe.

Turner began the painting by sketching from Cherry Garden Pier on Bermondsey Wall East near Rotherhithe.

Rotherhithe church has an altar made from Temeraire wood.

The painting was exhibited in the Royal Academy the following year.

The bank note will be the first to feature the signature of Sarah John, the Bank’s first female Chief Cashier.

“The new £20 note celebrates Turner, his art and his legacy in all their radiant, colourful, evocative glory,” said Mark Carney.

He was speaking a short distance from Long Nose Spit which will eventually be the start, or finish, of the Thames Path.

Milestone at Rotherhithe
Long Nose Spit near Margate

Reading Festival: Towpath closed at night

There will be a night-time closure of the Thames Path (9pm to 6am) in Reading from Thursday 22 August to Saturday 24 August.

The closure for the annual Reading Festival will start around Caveresham Bridge and end at Scours Lane near Tilehurst.

During the day walkers will see a temporary footbridge spanning the river near Scours Lane.

This first appeared in 2008 and replaces a temporary ferry where queues built up.

Marchioness Anniversary

Marchioness memorial in Southwark Cathedral

This year sees the 30th anniversary of the Marchioness Disaster on the River Thames.

In the early hours of Sunday 20 August 1989 the Marchioness pleasure boat sank in the River Thames having collided in the dark with the Bowbelle dredger. 51 people died in the water following the accident downstream of Southwark Bridge.

There will be commemorations on the anniversary of the night when the boat set out on the party cruise and on the actual anniversary date of the loss of life.

Monday evening 19 August

An open air service of remembrance led by the Bishop of Southwark will take place on the Thames Path on Monday 19 August at 8.15pm.

A procession will leave Southwark Cathedral at 8.05pm and make its way along Clink Street and past The Anchor pub to a location on Bankside between Cannon Street railway bridge and Southwark Bridge.

Those attending are invited to bring a candle in jam jar and natural petals to throw on the water.

Tuesday lunchtime 20 August

On Tuesday, the 30th anniversary of the Marchioness Disaster, the Bishop of Southwark will preside at a Memorial Eucharist in Southwark Cathedral at 12.45pm.

Flowers can be laid at the memorial at the end of the service.

Deptford street closure

Dog & Bell on May Day when road closure would be good

Prince Street in Deptford is being closed to traffic this month. 

This has always been part of the Thames Path and will remain so until a new long planned path is created across Convoys Wharf. 

The temporary closure of Prince Street is to assess the possibility of making it permanently traffic-free.

The best known building in the street, linking Watergate Street to Sayes Court, is the unique Dog & Bell pub.

St Ethelwold of ABINGDON

The Thames at Abingdon

If you are walking into Abingdon on Saturday 3 August you might think of St Ethelwold who knew the Thames.

Saturday is St Ethelwold’s Day.

In 955 he re-established Abingdon Abbey.

He also restored downstream Chertsey Abbey.

He died on 1 August 984 and was buried in Winchester. An arm and a leg were taken to Abingdon Abbey when he was recognised as a saint.

St Ethelwold

St Saviour’s Dock Bridge open

St Saviour’s Dock seen from Dockhead

St Saviour’s Dock footbridge is now back in use although refurbishment work continues.

“We still have work to do at dock level …. including minor works to the decking,” say contractors Conway in an update statement.

“The unique design of the bridge means that all the parts of the mechanism which facilitate the opening, are bespoke. “

“There will need to be two further days of closure to complete the inspection and commissioning of the bridge ‘swing’ mechanism.”

Conway’s Helen Mcconnell adds: “To ensure all checks are completed, a ‘full day’ closure to the pedestrian access may be required. The dates are likely to be the same day on two consecutive weeks.”

St Saviour’s Dock is near Tower Bridge. The footbridge, spanning the dock entrance, links Jacob’s Island and Butler’s Wharf.