Thursday 17 May 2018

The end of the London Boat Show

Not too surprising the London Boat Show is to be no more. It used to be a childhood highlight when it was at Earls Court. The Excel site, right by Royal Victoria Dock, seemed to offer such possibilities and should have been brimming with boats. But the show has not had vessels moored in the dock since 2013, when I took this picture of second-hand boats for sale, which was part of the exhibition, and attendance in January this year was thin. With the houseboats at Chelsea and the boatyards at Brentford and Greenland Dock threatened, and the hideous developments around Trinity Wharf, we can only conclude that London has treated its marine inheritance abysmally. The end of the Boat Show is just one more bit of London's culturural life to die.

Thursday 6 July 2017

Royal Academy's annual whitebait dinner

Every year since around 1818, academicians from the Royal Academy have enjoyed a whitebait dinner on the Thames, thought to have been started by JMW Turner when he was living in Sandycombe Lodge in Twickenham (soon to open the public). The first one took place in Eel Pie House. Charles Saumarez Smith, the current CEO of the Royal Academy, is an enthusiast for these dinners, which in recent years have taken place at various venues on the river. This year, on July 4, it was held in Greenwich, as reported in his blog. which also shows photos of some of the modern building they party passed on their way downriver.

Sunday 2 July 2017

The shape of ships to come

The Viking Sky by Deptford Creek in Greenwich today. The $300m, 227m, 930-passenger ship was built by Fincantieri in Ancona, Italy, with interiors by SMC Design of London. She was delivered to Viking Ocean Cruises this year and “offers destination-oriented cruising experience”. Expect more of this sort of thing when the London City Cruise Port opens in Enderby Wharf on the Greenwich Peninsula in 2018/19.

Wednesday 28 June 2017

The Thames catch of the day

An Environment Agency team were casting a seine net at Strand-on-the-Green yesterday as part of London Rivers Week. They make these surveys of the river’s inhabitants twice a year, this time of year looking for the newly spawned. The seine netting was followed by a trawl net in the middle of the river. The biggest catch was a 58cm bream, but for the most part there was just small fry, up to about 40mm long, especially perch and roach, plus a few flounders and tiny shrimp. A single small eel turned up, 

Before we arrived a seal had been seen heading upriver. Not an uncommon occurrence they said. Nothing can be extrapolated from these counts, which can vary enormously, and were certainly different from the ones ZSL caught here last year. The agency just likes to know what is in the river. The landing stage opposite has a monitor that keeps regular track of the health of the water -- its oxyygen, PH and ammonia levels, plus turbidity and temperature. 

Around this time last year, the smelt team from the Zoological Society of London was casting its net. See the earlier blog 

Monday 26 June 2017

Thames River Week

At Erith yesterday, on a walk organised by Thames Estuary Partnership’s Amy Pryor at the start of Thames River Week. London’s longest pier is community-run: the former landfill opposite at Rainham is now just green hills: from now on all London rubbish is being recycled. Unsurprisingly, there is no sign of Henry VIII’s naval dockyard here, but the coastal walk to the River Darent, where London ends and Kent begins, revealed how conservation is “re-wilding” the tidal margins. See the free events for the rest of this week, visit the website.

Tuesday 20 June 2017

The Longest Day at the Lighthouse

Tomorrow, June 21, is the longest day, and it is being celebrated as 'Longplayer Day', organised with Artangel. Events start at noon at Goldsmith's College and include the Royal Naval College in Greenwich, with Shoreline performances, ending at Trinity Buay Wharf (9.15pm to midnight) , where Longplayer continues its Eastern bongs at the top of London's only lighthouse. 

Full details of events:

Thursday 8 June 2017

Dutch prince leads invasion celebrations

Prince Maurits of the Netherlands was in the Medway today to kick off festivities commemorating the 350th anniversary of one of Britain’s greatest naval defeats, the retaliatory Raid on the Medway, when Dutch ships came up the Thames, sank 13 naval ships off Rochester, and departed with the prize flagship Royal Charles. Frits de Reuter, descendant of the Dutch admiral who commanded the raid, was among the party. 
The day began at Upnor* Castle (below, the Prince is the uniformed officer third from the right) where the party watched the arrival of a flotilla of Dutch vessels, expected to number more than 70 by this weekend, led by the sailing ship Aphrodite. An exhibition in the castle explains the battle, with an interactive model. He then went on to Chatham Dockyard where marine bands marched and played, and speeches were made — the best joke coming from the Dutch commander who remarked that Churchill had described the Navy as a life of “rum, sodomy and the lash” — “ He was obviously talking about the British Navy.” he said. ”The Dutch Navy gave up the lash a long time ago.”
The prince then went on a tour of ‘Breaking the Chain’, an exhibition in the Dockyard, which has drawings and paintings from Holland as well as from British collections, though the prize carved coat of arms from the stern of the Royal Charles is still in the Rijksmuseum. He then boarded the Dutch ship Holland, which is in Chatham marina, and can be visited by the public this weekend, before flying home. 
This weekend see the start of celebrations, including firework displays, that go on until June 30. See…/battle-of-medway-commemoration/

* THE LONDON STONE at Upnor marks the extent of the City of London Corporation's ancient jusisdiction over the Thames, which includes the mouth of the Medway up to Chatham Dockyard.