A City of London residents’ association were the lucky guests of the Port Health Authority enjoying a day out on the River Thames seeing everything from huge ships to seals basking on the river bank.
The trip was kindly arranged by Mr Graham Packham, chairman of Castle Baynard Ward Club, who is one of the elected councillors of the City’s local council, the Court of Common Council.
Twelve lucky souls boarded the Lady Aileen, a 47 ft boat with three crew, to carry us down the river towards the estuary and back again seeing the varied sights of modern and historic London on the way.
The party travelled nearly 25 miles down the River Thames passing many famous sites along the way.
The Thames is the historic waterway which used to carry much of London’s trade. The original port is huge stretching for miles down the river. Today modern buildings adorn its banks but many historical sites remain.
We passed the Thames Flood Barrier, a marvel of modern engineering, designed to be closed if bad weather and high tides combine to risk flooding London.
The Port Health Authority has multi role tasks ranging from import controls, monitoring food safety standards, and environmental issues. The crew generously let the guests steer the boat giving full supervision and instruction at all times.
Well done London!
It was a wonderful surprise to behold a seal basking on the river bank. The water must be at a certain level of cleanliness for them to flourish.
Further down the river the ships get bigger with modern vessels being unloaded with state of the art docking facilities.
Coming back we saw historical features such as the docks below. Sailing ships would come up the River Thames with the rising tide. The dock gates open to let them in, then close as the tide turns and starts to go out, trapping the water and enabling the ships to stay afloat. Gangs of dock labourers would swam aboard to unload the cargo sacks by hand.
The National Maritime Museum is reputed to be the largest of its kind. It is situated at Greenwich on the banks of the River Thames.
Greenwich is also the home of the Cutty Sark. In her 19th century heyday she was a fast sailing ship racing home to London with cargoes of tea from the South China Seas.
It was surprising how many busy working boats were bustling along the river carrying passengers with many pick up and drop off places. Canary Wharf is home to some of Britain’s best loved daily papers.
Alongside the modern offices are historical pubs and some private houses, many of which command extravagant prices.
The banks of the River Thames is a wonderful mix of the old and new.
We started and finished at the Tower of London pier. Opposite of which is the permanent mooring of HMS Belfast. A World War Two armoured cruiser she saw action at D-Day in 1944. She fired so many salvos of shells with her six inch guns supporting the troops ashore, her gun barrels wore out and had to be replaced.
A truly excellent day provided by The Corporation of the City of London and its many servants.