Saturday, August 15, 2015
The changing Thames - from above
The history of the area proved easier to track down than the artist, with resources like the Britain from Above, which revealed the photo above of Battersea Reach in 1928.
I was staggered by how much London's river bank has changed, and recently too, for these factories were mostly there 50 years ago. Now that area is part of the expanding developments of river view apartments, with another 100,000 planned between now and 2020.
Before the transformation there were factories making candles and soap, mills for flour and sugar, distilleries, malt-houses and much much more.
This site allows you to compare modern satellite photos side-by-side with old OS maps from a hundred years ago. And for this stretch of the river in the 1888 - 1913 maps there were engineering works, saccharum works and a starch manufactory (yes, that's what they called it).
After looking through these photos and maps I biked along the oh-so-smart Thames path for this stretch of river. My eyes could see the concrete and glass but in my head I saw chimneys and brick. On the river weren't tourist boats but dozens of lighters taking goods down to the docks.
London is ever changing, but this was more than that, a transformation, the end of the industrial Thames.
The rivers and air is the better for it, but it is worth remembering this smoking, dirty but hard working part of the city's history, which helped build modern London.