Month: March 2013

Ships on the Thames

Many years ago the Thames was a thriving waterway, with barge traffic, sailing ships and all manner of watercraft plying their trade on it. Deep water vessels were not all that common past Tower Bridge though because of the depth of water, but East of Tower Bridge it was a different story.

My own explorations of this area really takes in the area from Tower Bridge to roughly Battersea Power Station, as well as a visit to St Katherine’s Dock.  There was not a lot to see.

However, there are historic ships in that area, and this is what I am posting about. Naturally the biggest and best of them all is situated within sight of Tower Bridge, and I won’t spend too much time dwelling on her. 

HMS Belfast

HMS Belfast

She often has visiting ships berthed alongside, and I was fortunate enough to catch HMS Westminster alongside. 

HMS Westminster (F237)

HMS Westminster (F237)

And more importantly, on 07/06/2016, I went down to see the RMS St Helena alongside.  It’s not every day that you get an opportunity like this one. 

RMS St Helena alongside 08/06/2016

RMS Ste Helena alongside 08/06/2016

Another famous oldie that I saw in 2008 when I was in London was the TS Queen Mary (not to be confused with the Queen Mary or the Queen Mary). She left London some time ago and has recently been returned to Scotland for preservation.

The Queen Mary

The Queen Mary

There are three vessels that can be photographed from the London Eye, in no particular order they are:  PS Tattershall Castle which dates from 1934.

Tattershall Castle

Tattershall Castle

HMS President  dates from 1918 and was built as HMS Saxifrage. She is the sole representative of the first type of purpose-built anti-submarine vessels and now serves as a venue for conferences and functions, and as offices for a number of media companies. She is one of the last three surviving Royal Navy warships of the First World War.

*Update 8 August 2016*

Unfortunately, HMS President had to vacate her moorings due to the Thames Tideway Tunnel Sewer Project,  and coupled with the refusal of future lottery funding her future is looking very bleak unless enough money can be found to pay for her future berth and ongoing preservation. Scheduled to play a part in the 1918 World War 1 centenary, she may end up being scrapped instead. 

HMS President

HMS President

HQS Wellington is a former Grimsby Class Sloop dating from 1934 that served during World War 2 as a convoy escort. Since 1948 she has been permanently moored on the Thames after she was purchased to be the Livery Hall for the Honourable Company of Master Mariners. 

HMS Wellington

HMS Wellington

And if you you are fortunate you will also be able to spot the occasional tug moving up and down. I was fortunate enough to spot SWS Essex, 

SWS Essex

SWS Essex

As well as sisters Reclaim, Resource and Recovery. They are operated by Cory Riverside and are three of 4 sister ships (Recovery, Resource, Redoubt and Reclaim)

Reclaim

Reclaim

Recovery

Resource

Resource

The St Helena was escorted by two Kotug tugs, and I believe these are usually based in Tilbury which was her next immediate destination. 

ZP Bear

ZP Bear

SD Seal

SD Seal

Other tugs I spotted in 2016 were:

GPS  Cervia

GPS Cervia

She was previously the Cory Environmental tug “Recruit” and had entered service with GPS Marine’s River and Light Towage fleet.

As well as Thames Vixen who is operated by the Livetts Group.

Thames Vixen

Thames Vixen

Of course there is also the Golden Hinde replica in drydock in Bankside, Southwark; don’t make the assumption that she is purely decorative, as she has undertaken a number of long voyages that are no mean feat for a ship with a 102 foot long hull!

Golden Hinde

Golden Hinde

And if you head towards Greenwich, the famous tea clipper: Cutty Sark.

Cutty Sark (Greenwich)

Sadly it was also on the Thames where the Marchioness Disaster occurred in 1989, resulting in the loss of 51 people. The disaster is commemorated in nearby Southwark Cathedral.

The Thames is still an active river system, my brief visit did not even touch on the passing craft that ply up and down, seemingly without purpose, or the hordes of tourist boats, or the visiting cruise ships that come alongside HMS Belfast. This is just a glimpse of a famous river that is an integral part of the greater City of London. 

© DRW 2013-2018. Retrospectively created 27/05/2016, more images added 09/06/2016


London Highgate (West) Cemetery

Having seen Highgate East Cemetery it was inevitable that I would want to see the West Cemetery. Unfortunately you may only see it as part of an official tour; still, it is better than not seeing it. On the day of my tour the sun was battling to stick out its head so light conditions varied all the time. I was also suffering from battery problems so had to use my cellphone as a camera while I passed the time at Highgate East.
Entrance is through the ornate chapel/lodge/gate house and once through the gates up a flight of stairs to the cemetery. The cemetery is built on a hill so it is a upward climb for part of the way. There are quite a few similarities between the two Highgates, although the formal pathways here seemed much better than in the East cemetery. However, the same ornate memorials abounded, and again I was left thinking about what it must have looked like when it was open and funerals were happening here. 
The one thing that West has that East hasn’t are the crypts and mausoleums on a grand scale. The most famous being the Egyptian Avenue which was clever way to cash in on the Victorian mania for things Egyptian. Today it is more reminiscent of a casino gone wrong. The open topped avenue is lined with vaults and built on a slope leading into an even more grand area. 
One of the ideas at Highgate was to create a central vault lined pathway topped by a tree. This ideal still exists, although now it is somewhat of a faded representation of what it was supposed to be. Apparently the vaults did not really sell very well and many stood empty for years. 
From here a set of stairs took you up another levels where you could look down on this circular area and see the 200 year old Cedar of Lebanon tree that served as a centerpiece. Unfortunately in 2019 the tree was condemned by tree surgeons, amid fears it could collapse and it was decided to cut it down. 
Once finished at the Egyptian Avenue we were on another level that led up to the crypt as well as another of the curved pathways that runs inside the cemetery. The crypt area is interesting because it is quite a large hallway with glassed in panels in the roof to let light in. It is a dark and gloomy place and were were not allowed to take photographs inside of it. Some of the chambers were open and we could see the coffins inside.
The cemetery has its own ecosystem and the guide said that a colony of bats made this their home too. Given the atmosphere in the crypt all it would have taken would be one bat to make us all run for cover. The roof and chapel above was supposedly a popular place in the Victorian era and people would come here for a Sunday stroll and picnic. We were not able to see this “promenade” above because of safety issues, but it once afforded amazing views of London.   
Highgate is also famous for some of its beautiful headstones, and I am sure we missed some of them, but a few that we did see was “Nero the Lion”, headstone of  George Wombwell.
 The grave of George Sayer with its famous resting dog.
The famous “Sleeping Angel”
 And probably many more that I never saw or that are not on the official tour. 
 
There are many considerations to be made when it comes to a cemetery like this. For starters safety is a major concern, many of the monuments are at drunken angles already, and the way underfoot is muddy in many areas. However, the question I ask is “who is really responsible for these memorials?” the cemetery is now run by “The Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust” and by the looks of it they are now the custodians of those memorials and the bodies in the crypts. Burials still happen here, although it does not come cheap, and I expect more people get buried in the East Cemetery than the West.
Part of me feels that I missed a lot during the tour which lasts just over an hour, but then I expect they can only show the areas that are safe. But I do hope that one day they will open up more of the cemetery so that we can see more of this Victorian “folly”, because if you look at it rationally, it is a folly, the people who created it never looked as far as 100 years down the line when it would be full, demographics would change and people no longer believed in having an edifice for a tomb.
Maybe somewhere down the line, in another 100 years time people will be doing tours of our 20th century grid pattern cemeteries and trying to to understand why we did things the way we did.
 

 

Random images 

DRW © 2013-2020. Recreated images 28/02/2016, more images added 01/01/2017

The Anglo Belgian War Memorial London

My original images of the Anglo Belgian War Memorial in London were taken in March 2013. It was not an easy memorial to photograph as ideally you need to be on the opposite side of the street. However, the street is so busy that it is incredibly difficult to find that crucial gap in the traffic.

The memorial may be found on the Embankment opposite Cleopatra’s Needle (which is equally difficult to photograph) Coordinates: 51°30′31.40″N, 0°07′14.26″W.

It is inscribed: “To the British nation from the grateful people of Belgium, 1914–1918”

It was unveiled by Princess Clémentine of Belgium on 12 October 1920. 

In June 2016 I was in London again and attempted to get better images but again was stumped by the traffic on the Embankment

There had been no changes to the memorial since my last visit.

 

The Belgian War Memorial in St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery

This is not the only Belgian War Memorial in London though. There is one more in St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery next to Kensal Green Cemetery in London. I photographed that one on 04/04/2013, but as I was about to get caught in a snow storm I did not take as many pics as I would have liked. 

On my 2016 trip I returned once again to St Mary’s to try get more images of this memorial. 

There is a small plot of Belgian War Graves next to the memorial.

It is a pity that there is no real way of knowing the reasons why there is a Memorial in the cemetery, although I suspect that there are quite a number of Belgian nationals buried in it. I have seen a number of Belgians buried in Southampton Old Cemetery as well as Netley Military Cemetery, there is even one buried in Johannesburg, South Africa. Such was the global reach of the world wars. 

Southampton Old Cemetery Belgian War Grave Plot

Southampton Old Cemetery Belgian War Grave Plot

DRW © 2013-2020. Retrospectively created 07/07/2016