23 January, 2012

A Day Out South of the River

In my humble opinion, one of London's greatest assets is the River Thames.  The river is the reason Londinium, Westminster and Southwark developed, just to name some of the oldest cities on the river.  If you're looking for free or cheap entertainment for a day out in London, look no further than its river.  One of my all time favorite activities on the Thames is mudlarking, which I have posted about before.  This weekend I continued my love affair with the river by going to the Thames Barrier.
From the east
From the west
I was first introduced to the barrier on the tv show Spooks, known as MI-5 on BBC America.  I think I had known of its existence, but wouldn't have recognized it without seeing it and being told what it is.  As a line of what looks like large silver fins coming out of the river, it's a bit odd to behold.  But this strange feat of engineering controls the height of the tides.  Without it the Thames would be much more susceptible to bursting its banks and flooding London.  Indeed, this was the threat in that episode of Spooks.

Situated in Woolwich, southeast London, the Thames Barrier begins the Thames path, which goes from the barrier out to the Cotswolds (we travel to the Cotswolds on the Stratford trip).  To the northeast on the river is the Tate Lyle factory.
To the southwest is the Tarmac factory.
A ramp for asphalt, and a ramp for people
Needless to say the area is VERY industrial, as is the tradition on the banks of the Thames.  But industry doesn't detract from its beauty.  Walking west from the barrier towards North Greenwich and the O2 Arena, I passed a yacht club, where the club itself is out over the water, an ecology center (which it turns out I take the bus past most days of the week) and what I can only describe as a series of shopping cart cemeteries.  I think I also discovered where the Queen sits when she's sunbathing in southeast London.
Yacht club
Ecology park
RIP shopping carts
Shopping cart massacre, continued
Was there a plague that hit the shopping carts of southeast London?
Fit for royalty
Bill, you have your chance to make a dig at south London and profess the advantages of being a north Londoner, but there's very little that surpasses the industrial, perhaps even accidental, beauty found south of the river.


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