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A Thames River Trip

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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.

 

Motor Launch Lady Aileen of the City of London's Port Health Authority
Motor Launch Lady Aileen of the City of London’s Port Health Authority

 

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.

Crew explain sights to guests
Crew explain sights to guests

 

The party travelled nearly 25 miles down the River Thames passing many famous sites along the way.

 

Millennium Dome
Millennium Dome

 

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.

 

Emma Edhem CC with her husband
Emma Edhem CC with her husband

 

Cable cars stretch across the Thames near City Airport
Cable cars stretch across the Thames near City Airport

 

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.

 

Thames Flood Barrier
Thames Flood Barrier

 

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.

 

Chairman Graham Packham CC at the helm
Chairman Graham Packham CC at the helm

 

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.

 

A seal basking on the mud flats
A seal basking on the mud flats

 

Further down the river the ships get bigger with modern vessels being unloaded with state of the art docking facilities.

 

A yellow ship
A yellow ship

 

A green ship
A green ship

 

A Blue and red ship
A Blue and red ship

 

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.

 

West India Dock-famous names
West India Dock-famous old names in modern London

 

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
Greenwich

 

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.

 

Cutty Sark
Cutty Sark- A Clipper Ship

 

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.

 

Canary Wharf jetty
Canary Wharf jetty

 

Alongside the modern offices are historical pubs and some private houses, many of which command extravagant prices.

 

Prospect of Whitby public house as seen from the river
Prospect of Whitby public house as seen from the river

 

The banks of the River Thames is a wonderful mix of the old and new.

 

Old Thames sailing barge
Traditional Thames sailing barge moored alongside modern tug

 

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.

 

HMS Belfast and busy river traffic
HMS Belfast and busy river traffic

 

A truly excellent day provided by The Corporation of the City of London and its many servants.

 

Back safely at Tower pier
Back safely at Tower pier HMS Belfast in the background

 

 

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