Monday, June 08, 2009

The rise and fall and rise again of the Thames

This post industrial waste land is located in one of the most valuable parts of London, which is one of the most expensive cities on the planet, and tells a story of the changing relationship between the city and the Thames.

In the far off days of courtly London the many palaces of the royals, earls and dukes could be found dotted along this ribbon of water. Think "Shakespeare in Love" but for hundreds of years. The banks of the Thames was where anyone who was anyone lived.

Then the industrial revolution came along and London got big, full of people all doing what people do. So all the waste from the people plus all the waste that comes from the factories and power stations ran or was pumped into the smelly sewer that was the Thames.

So the river died, physically and socially.

All those that could moved away from the river, off to the smart squares near Hyde Park or to the high ground of Hampstead, and London turned its back on the Thames.

And so it remained for decades until the industry started to die, road replaced the river, and Mr Bazalgette had a great idea involving burying pipes in the ground to take the sewage out to the estuary.

Gradually, over many years, the Thames awoke, and wildlife returned. After the fish came the riverside appartments.

The photo above is of the Lots Road Power Station. Now derelict it is awaiting to be demolished to be replaced by skyscrapers, shops and offices.

For this is Chelsea Creek, where the river meets the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.

Soon it will be developed to be the new posh pads for the new elite, the international jet setters who need a place of marble and gold platted taps to be their London base.

Welcome back, old father Thames.


O Docker said...

So, just a matter of time before the barge races are back. Be ready with the camera.

bonnie said...

Sounds a lot like our Hudson. If the economic crash has a sliver of a silver lining, it's that the waterfront land-grab has had the brakes put on it. I'm not against redevelopment but I'd like to see it planned in such a way that the public isn't suddenly sealed off from the water.

JP said...

O'Docker - they are actually reviving the old boat races and last year there were hundreds in "the great river race" - see this blog entry someone:

Bonnie - I'm sure its *just* like the Hudson. There's meant to be a policy to allow public access to the riverside itself as part of the Thames path but in practice a lot of developers try to put obstacles in their way.

However a bigger problem than developers is derelict land which is usually impassably sealed off.