The Pier Was Built in 1889
The Thames has all the time been a river of dreams. In centuries previous sailors and explorers, merchants and adventurers, have all journeyed down the river from London to seek their fortunes or their destiny, whereas others from afar have sailed up the river on a similar quest or enterprise. For all of them the low Essex shore was at all times their first and final glimpse of England.
Up till the middle of the final century British ships sailing out of the Port of London dominated the commerce routes of the world. The Cunard Queens ruled the Atlantic. Royal Mail Lines carried passengers to Brazil and South America, with some of their ships pushing up the Amazon as far as Iquitos. P&O and Orient lines serviced Hong Kong and Japan and Australia. The brand new Zealand Delivery Line sailed to Australia and New Zealand. The liners of Union Castle circumnavigated Africa. All these as soon as familiar names have disappeared now, and fashionable container ships and plush cruise ships have replaced virtually all of the old passenger-cargo lines that when flew the Pink Duster into each ocean of the world.
Occasions have modified, but there continues to be an limitless number of delivery utilizing the Thames, and as you start to pass the Essex shore the river is now overshadowed by the magnificent, Queen Elizabeth eleven Dartford Suspension Bridge, which was opened in 1991. Automobiles circulation continuously overhead on the congested arc of the M 25, and four concrete towers with their spider-internet tracery of cables soar into the sky.
Nonetheless, the rest of the long, flat Essex shoreline, which many a young sailor used to observe with both the slight tang of instant homesickness, or the buoyant elation of homecoming, remains to be just about unchanged. Most sailors had their minds fastened on the more exotic places on the far finish of every voyage, but they have been missing one thing, for there is far to be explored and loved along the Essex facet of the good river.
Cruise ships still come up to Tilbury, the place the old passenger liners used to choose up and disembark passengers earlier than making the final lap as much as KG5 or Victoria docks, however Tilbury has expanded and is now the principal container port for the Port of London. Additionally it is the location of the massive, star-shaped, moated and earth-walled fort that is the perfect preserved of all of the fortifications that have been as soon as strung out alongside each river banks to guard London’s most vulnerable gateway.
There was a blockhouse here on the time of the Spanish Armada, and the current Tilbury Fort was constructed to replace it in the late seventeenth Century. It was recurrently garrisoned by means of the Napoleonic wars and via the primary World Battle. There has all the time been the potential risk of an enemy fleet, our mercantile rivals the Spanish, the Dutch, the French, and finally the Germans.
The big artillery pieces nonetheless point out from the east and west gun strains alongside the embankment and the day I strolled there a Royal Navy destroyer and an outdated, pink-sailed Thames sailing barge had been both transferring up the river. The Navy ship gleamed grey and sleek in the sunshine, brisk and direct about her business, whereas the barge tacked slowly and lazily, a nostalgia image of a bygone age.
Comply with the river and you will come to Canvey Island, which is connected to the mainland by the bridge at South Benfleet. The island was once a lonely wasteland of mudflats and tidal inlets, until the land was reclaimed and protected by a series of embankments and drainage dykes constructed by a Dutch Engineer in 1623.
Regardless of this the island continues to be weak to distinctive tidal flooding. In 1953 the terrible combination of North Sea storms and Spring tide surge that devastated the whole of the jap counties coastline swamped Canvey and drowned fifty eight individuals. Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped it from filling up with summer season cottages and camper websites. Small pleasure craft abound, because it is particularly common with the boating fraternity.
Canvey is now additionally the location of an enormous petroleum refining trade, a gigantic conglomeration of massed storage tanks and writhing pipelines, just like the silver steel entrails of some distorted industrial monster laid bare.
The most effective views of the whole island is from the ruins of Hadleigh Castle, which overlook the vast sweep of the estuary. Hadleigh Castle was constructed in the 11th Century to guard the mouth of the Thames and for centuries its great stone towers and partitions stood equal to the duty. Sadly, at the moment only the south east tower remains nearly intact, with a number of crumbling walls marking the rest of the site, and the split wall of the north east tower standing like some nice shattered tooth.
Just a few miles additional down the river is Previous Leigh, as soon as a small fishing community overlooking a small marshy inlet, the village has now been just about swallowed up by the enlargement of sprawling Southend. Nonetheless, the flavor of Old Leigh is still there, with its cobbled excessive road and rows of fisherman’s cottages and a handful of fishing boats moored up among the pleasure craft at its old wharves.
There is an outdated black clapboard sail maker’s loft at Victoria Wharf, which is stone island sweatshirt l now a primary Assist Post manned by the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade, and the scene here appeared to sum up Previous Leigh. A small pleasure yacht was moored at the quay and nearby was a small sandy beach where families played and sunbathed.
Not far away was the Essex Yacht Membership, the place scores of younger folks had been bobbing around in vibrant-sailed small boats, or wrestling with them up and down the slipways on both aspect of the Bembridge, an ex-cruising pilot cutter that now serves as the clubhouse. Club racing events are monitored from the outdated picket bridge the place there are nice sea views over the bows.
During the Georgian period the south finish of Prittlewell was turning into a small, fashionable seaside resort for the nicely to do. It was a place of sedate seashore huts where ladies in knee and elbow size bathing fits discreetly emerged to paddle their toes. From there it expanded quickly.
With the coming of the railway in 1856 Southend was only an hour away from the capital and promptly turned the favourite vacation resort for the East End of London. The town is virtually divided by the far protruding pier, with on either aspect the amusement arcades, quick rides and the youngsters’s paradise of Journey Island. Here and to the left of the pier is the wild, brash and noisy face of Southend, the center of all the shiny lights, fish and chip retailers and enjoyable. Go to the suitable and you will discover the extra genteel points, with all the peace and beauty of its many manicured lawns and cliff prime flower gardens.
Go up from the promenade and stroll alongside the Royal Terrace, the place the Royal Hotel was in-built 1791 to commemorate a go to by Princess Caroline, the spouse of the then Prince of Wales. Her visit helped to ascertain much more firmly the fashionable fame of Southend. The terrace was restored in 1978, and in summer time there may be normally a massed array of glorious, coloured hanging baskets decorating the fashionable lodge fronts.
Further alongside the white statue of Queen Victoria, flanked by palm bushes, overlooks wealthy pink and yellow rose beds. Beside her there is an elegant Victorian bandstand where waltzing couples glide gracefully on sunny afternoons. Reverse is Prittlewell Sq.Southend’s oldest surviving park, with its high splashing central fountain framed in white wrought iron entrance gates. All over the place there are sumptuous flower beds.
In Priory Park stands the outdated Prittlewell Priory which was once a Cluniac monastery and is now a museum. Beside it stands the stable grey Crow Stone, which as soon as stood on the seashore at Chalkwell to mark the japanese extent of London’s jurisdiction.
Down on the Western Esplanade is where the annual London to Southend Traditional Automobile Rally finishes, normally with three hundred or extra vintage vehicles assembled there on the large day. That is just one in all the large annual occasions in this pleasure-geared seaside resort, ranging from the Previous Leigh Regatta and the Thames Crusing Barge Match, both held out on the river, to the excessive-flying Air Present in the skies above.
If you can’t face an hour’s brisk stroll a full dimension prepare now takes you out to the far end of the pier, which was almost at all times my final glimpse and first sight of the mouth of the Thames. The pier was in-built 1889, and has survived seven boat crashes and three fires. One and a 3rd miles long, it’s the longest pier in the world.
Rows of fishermen cast their traces over the rails, hoping to haul a fat bass or mullet up on to the deck boards, and there’s a pier head viewing tower with large-ranging views. From here something from a cockle boat to an oil tanker may hover into view.
Shoeburyness occupies the final elbow of land earlier than the shoreline turns away to the north. Until the center of the 18th Century it was a smuggler’s haven of misty marshes and hidden creeks. Then came the Royal Artillery Garrison and school of Gunnery and the village started to grow. Between the wars its safe bathing beaches made it another vacation spot.
Plans have been put ahead for another future barrier right here to span the full mouth of the Thames. London and the marshlands of Essex have at all times been vulnerable to flooding, as a result of slow increase of river and sea levels over the centuries, and now that rate of improve is accelerating because of Global warming.
The Thames Barrier excessive up the river at Greenwich which was formally opened in 1984 is not considered adequate protection for the nation’s capital. Extra flood and storm tides of the 1953 selection are predicted as a high chance, and the continued battle against the hungry sea will continue. If the proposed barrier is built will probably be a massive construction stretching far into the marshes on either aspect which will change the shore and skyline for ever.
However, for the moment the Thames has reached the cold North Sea with out further hindrance. Having started far inland within the Cotswolds, passing via the great heart of London, and caressing the winding Essex shore, the river still flows by in all its many moods, timeless and steady, on its romantic strategy to the far, huge world.
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