After a memorable paddle on the Saturday, we joined in the Shadwell Basin paddling festival on the Sunday and although we didn’t paddle that far we had an illuminating talk on the architecture and history of the area by Toby, from the Tower Hamlets Canoe Club
. Next time we visit the area we will be looking at the buildings through different eyes.
William Kidd was executed a few yards below Wapping Old Stairs, on May 23rd 1701. Pirates were normally hung and then chained to a post on the foreshore for 3 tides, as a warning to others. Today the pirate is commemorated in this riverside pub.
Wapping Police Station is the site of the oldest police force in the world, formed in 1798. It was formed because of the level of crime on the river. It was estimated that 11,000 of the 33,000 people who worked on the river, at the time, were known criminals.
Toby was really well prepared with numerous visual aids. He would land and whilst talking about the area use the photographs to illustrate the history of this area of London.
Crossing to the south side of the river our first stop was Butler’s Wharf. Built between 1871 and 1873 it was supposedly the largest tea warehouse in the world at one time. Today as the docks have moved downstream it has been developed with luxury flats and apartments.
Looking west towards the city skyline, which has changed significantly in the last few years.
The design of Tower Bridge was the result of a competition. A number of the submissions were a bit more unusual.
The bridge was built between 1892 and 93 using granite blocks from near Liskeard, in Cornwall. Many people are surprised that the bridge isn’t older.
One feature we passed over but couldn’t see was the Thames Tunnel. It was built between 1825 and 1843 and was designed for horse and carts. It now forms part of the London Overground railway system, between Wapping and Rotherhithe. This was the first tunnel in the world to be constructed under a navigable river and when it was completed a banquet was held to celebrate the engineering marvel of the Brunel family. Although we couldn’t see the tunnel we did pay our respects as we paddled above its route.