Thursday, April 28, 2022

Greenwich Foot Tunnel

London The Unfinished City
The entrance to the Greenwich foot tunnel at Greenwich.

Of the roughly 40 tunnels beneath the River Thames, the majority of which carry utilities, railway lines and motor vehicles, only three allow pedestrians to use them: The Greenwich Foot tunnel, the Woolwich Foot tunnel and the Rotherhithe tunnel, although the latter is not advisable, unless you want to look like a chimney sweep and breathe in noxious fumes. 

The Greenwich foot tunnel, which I have traversed on numerous occasions, is the oldest pedestrian foot tunnel in London, linking Greenwich with Island Gardens on the Isle of Dogs.

The south entrance is located in front of the Cutty Sark, while the north entrance is situated in Island Gardens.

You have the option of descending the stairs or wait for the lift to be free. I always take the stairs, which spiral down to the white-tiled tunnel.

Running in a straight line, it takes roughly 8 minutes to traverse. 

London The Unfinished City
The Greenwich foot tunnel.

The northern end has some thick concrete and steel lining, which covers bomb damage from World War II, that does narrow the interior of the tunnel for a short distance.

London The Unfinished City

London The Unfinished City
Bomb damage repairs.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Walking with friends: Borough Market to the Isle of Dogs... and beyond

With Covid-19 and the various lockdowns putting a pause on my walks with friends, around The Unfinished City, it is great to be able to start them up again.

Saturday April 2, 2022

After a breakfast of Pulled Pork Burger with apple sauce and sage & onion stuffing, from Hobbs in Borough Market, my friend Stephen and I began our first walk of 2022.

London The Unfinished City
Borough Market is a food lovers paradise.

Heading towards the River Thames we made our way through the Contorted Tunnel, which Stephen had never seen, to the basement of Hay's Galleria. Climbing the stairs we headed out on to the embankment, by HMS Belfast, and followed the path to Tower Bridge. 

London The Unfinished City
Tower Bridge and the Girl with a Dolphin.

Taking the eastern pedestrian path, across the bridge, we headed to St Katharine Docks Marina, where various yachts, barges, lifeboats and the Queen's Rowbarge 'Gloriana' were moored. As we rounded one of the buildings I pointed out Stanley Kubrick's original 'Monolith' from 2001: A Space Odyssey, which had been affixed to the wall of one of the buildings, back in 1977.

London The Unfinished City
'Monolith' by Arthur Fleischmann.

From here we headed eastward towards Hermitage Basin and the Ornamental Canal, through Wapping Woods and on to Shadwell Basin. A small area of the basin was being used by Wapping Docklands Market, so we had a look around the different food stalls before heading in to the historic The Prospect of Whitby, for a well-deserved drink.

London The Unfinished CIty
Our first drink in London together for a number of years.

Monday, April 04, 2022

'SS Great Eastern' Launch Ramp


London The Unfinished City
Steam Ship Great Eastern launching chains

Saturday, April 2, 2022

It had long been one of my ideas to walk along the Thames Path around the Isle of Dogs, to take in the historic aspects of the area.

And so, having left Borough Market and crossed the River Thames via Tower Bridge, I made my way through St Katharine Docks to Wapping and on to Limehouse, before finally making it to the Isle of Dogs.

Much of the area around West India Docks, which became disused in the 1980s, were redeveloped between the late 1980s and the 1990s, and became the second financial district for London, commonly known as Canary Wharf.

Continuing on my walk I finally reached one of the most historic places on the Isle of Dogs... Napier Yard and the launch ramp of the SS Great Eastern.

London The Unfinished City
SS Great Eastern launch ramp.

This was the exact spot from where, on January 31, 1858, following thirteen unsuccessful attempts, the SS Great Eastern was launched sideways into the River Thames. 

A model of the SS Great Eastern
A model of the SS Great Eastern, in the Museum of London Docklands.

She was the largest ship ever built, at the time, and was the brainchild of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

London The Unfinished City
Timbers and the dock wall leading to the River Thames.

The slipway had been lost to the ravages of time, but was finally rediscovered in 1984 when redevelopments took place in the area. As the timbers were uncovered they were sprayed with water before they could be injected with a preservative.

London The Unfinished City
Preserved for Posterity.

The reason for the thirteen unsuccessful attempts stems from the fact that two slipways were required, rather than the usual one. Both slipways had to be at an identical height to carry the weight of the 12,000 tonne ship, but a miscalculation made the slipway at the bow of the ship being steeper than that at the stern.

London The unfinished City
A history of the SS Great Eastern.