The Pier Was Inbuilt 1889
The Thames has all the time been a river of desires. In centuries previous sailors and explorers, merchants and adventurers, have all journeyed down the river from London to seek their fortunes or their destiny, while others from afar have sailed up the river on the same quest or enterprise. For all of them the low Essex shore was at all times their first and last glimpse of England.
Up until the center of the final century British ships crusing out of the Port of London dominated the trade routes of the world. The Cunard Queens dominated the Atlantic. Royal Mail Traces carried passengers to Brazil and South America, with a few of their ships pushing up the Amazon so far as Iquitos. P&O and Orient lines serviced Hong Kong and Japan and Australia. The new Zealand Shipping Line sailed to Australia and New Zealand. The liners of Union Castle circumnavigated Africa. All those once acquainted names have disappeared now, and trendy container ships and plush cruise ships have changed virtually all the old passenger-cargo lines that when flew the Pink Duster into each ocean of the world.
Occasions have modified, but there remains to be an endless variety of delivery utilizing the Thames, and as you start to cross the Essex shore the river is now overshadowed by the magnificent, Queen Elizabeth 11 Dartford Suspension Bridge, which was opened in 1991. Automobiles move 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 look at with either the slight tang of speedy homesickness, or the buoyant elation of homecoming, is still just about unchanged. Most sailors had their minds fastened on the more exotic places on the far finish of every voyage, but they were lacking one thing, for there is way to be explored and enjoyed along the Essex facet of the good river.
Cruise ships nonetheless come up to Tilbury, the place the outdated passenger liners used to choose up and disembark passengers earlier than making the final lap as much as KG5 or Victoria docks, however Tilbury has expanded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 site of the massive, star-shaped, moated and earth-walled fort that’s the very best preserved of all the fortifications that have been as soon as strung out along each river banks to guard London’s most weak gateway.
There was a blockhouse here at the time of the Spanish Armada, and the current Tilbury Fort was constructed to change it in the late seventeenth Century. It was repeatedly garrisoned through the Napoleonic wars and by way of the first World Warfare. There has all the time been the possible risk of an enemy fleet, our mercantile rivals the Spanish, the Dutch, the French, and finally the Germans.
The large artillery pieces still point out from the east and west gun strains alongside the embankment and the day I strolled there a Royal Navy destroyer and an previous, purple-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, while 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 related to the mainland by the bridge at South Benfleet. The island was once a lonely wasteland of mudflats and tidal inlets, till the land was reclaimed and protected by a sequence of embankments and drainage dykes constructed by a Dutch Engineer in 1623.
Despite this the island is still weak to distinctive tidal flooding. In 1953 the horrible mixture of North Sea storms and Spring tide surge that devastated the whole of the eastern counties coastline swamped Canvey and drowned fifty eight people. Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped it from filling up with summer season cottages and camper websites. Small pleasure craft abound, because it is very widespread with the boating fraternity.
Canvey is now also the positioning of an enormous petroleum refining trade, a gigantic conglomeration of massed storage tanks and writhing pipelines, like the silver steel entrails of some distorted industrial monster laid naked.
The most effective views of the entire island is from the ruins of Hadleigh Castle, which overlook the vast sweep of the estuary. Hadleigh Castle was constructed in the eleventh Century to guard the mouth of the Thames and for centuries its nice stone towers and walls stood equal to the task. Sadly, in the present day solely the south east tower stays nearly intact, with a number of crumbling partitions marking the remainder of the site, and the cut up wall of the north east tower standing like some nice shattered tooth.
A number of miles additional down the river is Previous Leigh, as soon as a small fishing neighborhood overlooking a small marshy inlet, the village has now been just about swallowed up by the growth of sprawling Southend. Nonetheless, the flavor of Previous Leigh remains to be there, with its cobbled excessive street and rows of fisherman’s cottages and a handful of fishing boats moored up among the pleasure craft at its previous wharves.
There’s an outdated black clapboard sail maker’s loft at Victoria Wharf, which is now a first Help Publish manned by the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade, and the scene right here appeared to sum up Old Leigh. A small pleasure yacht was moored on the quay and close by was a small sandy beach stone island tracksuit pants the place families performed and sunbathed.
Not far away was the Essex Yacht Club, the place scores of young individuals have been bobbing around in vibrant-sailed small boats, or wrestling with them up and down the slipways on either aspect of the Bembridge, an ex-cruising pilot cutter that now serves because the clubhouse. Club racing occasions are monitored from the outdated picket bridge the place there are high-quality sea views over the bows.
In the course of the Georgian interval the south end of Prittlewell was becoming a small, fashionable seaside resort for the nicely to do. It was a place of sedate seashore huts the place ladies in knee and elbow length bathing fits discreetly emerged to paddle their toes. From there it expanded quickly.
With the coming of the railway in 1856 Southend was solely an hour away from the capital and promptly became the favorite holiday resort for the East Finish of London. The city is practically divided by the far protruding pier, with on both facet the amusement arcades, fast rides and the children’s paradise of Journey Island. Right here and to the left of the pier is the wild, brash and noisy face of Southend, the middle of all of the shiny lights, fish and chip shops and fun. Go to the precise and you will see the more genteel features, with all of the peace and wonder of its many manicured lawns and cliff high flower gardens.
Go up from the promenade and stroll alongside the Royal Terrace, the place the Royal Hotel was built in 1791 stone island tracksuit pants to commemorate a go to by Princess Caroline, the wife of the then Prince of Wales. Her visit helped to determine much more firmly the fashionable repute of Southend. The terrace was restored in 1978, and in summer season there is often a massed array of glorious, coloured hanging baskets decorating the modern lodge fronts.
Additional along the white statue of Queen Victoria, flanked by palm timber, overlooks wealthy pink and yellow rose beds. Beside her there’s an elegant Victorian bandstand the place waltzing couples glide gracefully on sunny afternoons. Opposite is Prittlewell Square, Southend’s oldest surviving park, with its excessive splashing central fountain framed in white wrought iron entrance gates. In all places there are sumptuous flower beds.
In Priory Park stands the previous Prittlewell Priory which was once a Cluniac monastery and is now a museum. Beside it stands the stable grey Crow Stone, which once stood on the seaside at Chalkwell to mark the japanese extent of London’s jurisdiction.
Down on the Western Esplanade is the place the annual London to Southend Classic Car Rally finishes, often with three hundred or extra vintage autos assembled there on the large day. That is simply certainly one of the big annual occasions on this pleasure-geared seaside resort, starting from the Outdated 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 measurement prepare now takes you out to the far end of the pier, which was nearly 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 forged their traces over the rails, hoping to haul a fat bass or mullet up on to the deck boards, and there is a pier head viewing tower with large-ranging views. From here something from a cockle boat to an oil tanker might hover into view.
Shoeburyness occupies the last elbow of land before the shoreline turns away to the north. Till 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 college of Gunnery and the village started to grow. Between the wars its protected bathing beaches made it another vacation spot.
Plans have been put ahead for an additional future barrier right here to span the full mouth of the Thames. London and the marshlands of Essex have always been weak to flooding, as a result of slow increase of river and sea ranges over the centuries, and now that charge of improve is accelerating on account of Global warming.
The Thames Barrier excessive up the river at Greenwich which was formally opened in 1984 is now not thought of enough protection for the nation’s capital. More flood and storm tides of the 1953 variety are predicted as a excessive likelihood, and the continuing battle towards the hungry sea will continue. If the proposed barrier is built will probably be a large structure stretching far into the marshes on both facet which can change the shore and skyline for ever.
However, for the moment the Thames has reached the cold North Sea with out further hindrance. Having began far inland within the Cotswolds, passing via the nice 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 approach to the far, vast world.
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