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.
She often has visiting ships berthed alongside, and I was fortunate enough to catch HMS Westminster alongside.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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)
The St Helena was escorted by two Kotug tugs, and I believe these are usually based in Tilbury which was her next immediate destination.
Other tugs I spotted in 2016 were:
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.
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!
And if you head towards Greenwich, the famous tea clipper: Cutty Sark.
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