From then to now…

Etchings of London’s Bridges by J. H. Herring, 1884, together with recent photographs.

Both pictures feature London Bridge and Cannon Street Railway Bridge beyond. The photo also shows elements of Southwark Bridge, the Millennium footbridge and the Blackfriars Bridges.

Returning to the subject of central London’s Thames’ bridges where in an earlier post I quoted from J. H. Herring’s book: Thames Bridges from London to Hampton Court, published in 1884, I am now sharing some of his etchings, along with roughly equivalent views from my photo archives.

Cannon Street Railway Bridge, originally constructed in 1866. After two later re-buildings, the bridge below was built by British Railways in 1981
Cannon street Station and Railway Bridge today

From the earliest days, bridges have imposed difficulties on navigation. And the historic London Bridge, the city’s only Thames bridge for centuries was no exception. Sarah Morris writes in ‘Old London Bridge in the Sixteenth Century’ that its nineteen narrow arches effectively caused artificial rapids between the two sides of the bridge “that were highly dangerous to navigate {…] Sailing a boat between the pillars was called shooting the bridge”.
Though today’s navigational problems on the river are not as hazardous as then due to safety measures, there are still dangers and much to be learnt by professionals studying for official qualifications. In 2007 a national Boatmasters Licence was created by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency to replace the former Watermen and Lightermen’s Licence, and one addition to this for the Thames, is the Port of London Authority’s Local Knowledge Endorsement which applies to the river from Margaretness to Putney Bridge, and necessary for anyone holding a national Boatmasters Licence navigating in this area.
Someone with expert local knowledge is Waterman and Lighterman Eric Carpenter, who worked for fifty years on the Thames and surrounding waterways. Further on he kindly gives me insight into difficulties navigating some of the central London bridges. Also adding notes of their experience are Vic Clarke, who sailed up the Thames from Blyth on collier SS Hudson Firth, delivering coal to London power stations in the 1960s, and Wal Daly-Smith, whose life has been bound up with the Thames for both work and pleasure since boyhood.

Southwark Bridge built in 1819
Southwark Bridge built in 1921, this year being its 100th anniversary.

Though he can’t recall exactly which bridges, Vic Clarke remembers “a couple of times being on the keel at low tide. It was dependant on where we berthed. I can remember, along with a couple of senior seaman lowering masts at some point. There were no electric winches on the “Firth” just old steam winches. These times were just noise and activity with the Bosun shouting orders above the steam Jennys. I realise now how we must have been limited to where we discharged our load due to low bridges, and that’s where the ‘flat-irons’ came in.” The masts and funnels of these specially designed colliers telescoped into the hull allowing them to pass under all the bridges to the power stations upstream.

Blackfriars Bridge, built in 1869. On the left a statue of François 1 of France on horseback, and in the centre, St. Paul’s cathedral
Blackfriars Bridge at night

Wal Daly-Smith says that for him, “passing through Blackfriars bridges on a near high tide with a strong wind can be challenging! It gets very choppy in that area.” Having looked down into the turbulent waters racing beneath, I can understand that.

Waterloo Bridge built in 1817, and further on, the Charing Cross Railway Bridge. Beyond is the Queen Elizabeth Tower, known throughout the world as Big Ben
Looking downstream from Westminster to Waterloo Bridge, which was built during the 2nd World War and opened in 1945

Eric Carpenter who worked for Cory Waste Management at Charlton from 1984 until his retirement in 2008, explains that extra care is needed to navigate bridges positioned on bends in the river. Coming upstream, “the tide wants to flow in a straight line, so when it coms to a bend, it ‘sets’ into the bend and consequently takes the tow with it.”
Eric says “The first bridge that comes to mind is Waterloo Bridge. On the flood, the tide sets towards the north shore, so not too much of a problem because the arch is quite wide.” He adds that “the tide sets to the north shore of the Hungerford Railway Bridge as well.”

Charing Cross Railway Bridge with Waterloo Bridge, the Lion Brewery, with its famous lion, shot tower and St. Paul’s cathedral beyond
Hungerford Railway Bridge, the view now partially obscured by the Jubilee Bridges, built in 2000
Westminster Bridge, built 1862, and the Palace of Westminster.
Westminster Bridge with Parliament before the renovations now taking place

Eric explains that “the concern with Westminster Bridge is its small arches, so there it’s important to line correctly. Extra care is needed when towing craft with empty containers when the weather is windy.” Something he was only too aware of when towing Cory barges. So the sets, the direction towards which the current is flowing, have to be learned and “obviously on the ebb tide, they are in reverse”.

The first Lambeth Bridge, opened in 1862 with Lambeth Palace on the right
The present day Lambeth Bridge, opened in 1932

A parliamentary Select Committee on the Embankment of the Thames, dated June 1840, went into some detail over the various problems of navigation at the time. There are minuted reports of interviews which bring to life enterprises, such as the rebuilding of Parliament destroyed by fire in 1834 involving the construction of a cofferdam and its effect on the river; trade such as the importation of coal; all kinds of commerce; and a real glimpse into what working on the Thames was actually like.
There are details of problems with “the shoaly state of the river”; the effect of the removal of London Bridge “occasioning an earlier flood tide and a longer flood tide”; and constant complaints about the “noxious state of the mud” into which London’s waste flowed freely. This last problem was not to be addressed until “the great stink of 1858” made working in the Palace of Westminster, and elsewhere along the river, quite impossible. It was Sir Joseph Bazalgette who finally achieved the building of a sewer system for London in 1875, which has served the city well, only now being replaced by the Tideway ‘super sewer’ at present under construction.
Among the witnesses called in were: John May, Master of iron steam-boat, the Moonlight; James Covell, Master of the Woolwich steam-boat the Naiad; William Dennis, Waterman for over forty years; and William Gillet, Captain of an ‘iron boat’, called The Bachelor. When questioned, on the state of the river, Gillet replied:
“There is a great deal of inconvenience at low water time; the river is very shallow at places between Westminster and Waterloo Bridge.”
When asked on his opinion as to the construction of an embankment on each side of the river he said ” It would cause a great run of the tide; and it would cause more water in the river; and it would cause more race of the tide.” He added when questioned further, that dredging and deepening the river would make it more navigable, provided the dredged material was actually removed. When asked if his vessels had ‘received any injury’, he told the Committee that “They have very often got aground near Westminster Bridge; and we have been aground in some other parts.”
The collection of first-hand accounts in these reports, in the witnesses’ own words, recreate a bygone age, parts of which would, I imagine, still be familiar to those working on the river today.

Vauxhall Bridge built in 1816 was the first iron bridge to be built across the Thames
The present Vauxhall Bridge, opened in 1906

To end: An interesting and engaging short interview with experienced Thames Lighterman Bob Harris, explaining in the second half of this piece, the difficulties of navigating Vauxhall Bridge. It was posted on Youtube by @LiquidHighway

Sources and further information
The Liquid Highway, is the leading River Thames resource for news, info, and the world’s largest Thames vessel photo gallery.
Londontopia: Laura Porter’s article ‘A history of London’s 35 Bridges over the Thames.’, with pictures, dates & interesting facts.
The Londonist: ‘How London’s Thames Bridges got their names.’
Port of London Authority: ‘Thames Bridge Heights’ – Bridge clearances.
Steven Szymanski, @itsthebridgeman
Thames Bridges Port of London Authority.
The Tudor Travel Guide ‘A Brief History of Old London Bridge’ by Sarah Morris.
Reports from Committees, Volume 9, Metropolis Improvements […] Thames Embankment …

Thanks to:
Eric Carpenter, Vic Clarke and Wal Daly-Smith for their help.

Free spirits of Southbank…

Agility and acting on the Southbank

One of my favourite walks over the last few years has been to wander slowly along the South Bank of the Thames on a busy Saturday afternoon just watching people and soaking up the atmosphere. Having always been somewhat clumsy, without a good sense of balance, I appreciated the gutsy, gravity defying energy and freedom of the skateboarders, skaters and bikers exciting the Undercroft watchers at the Southbank Centre. Not formally organised, they put on an impromptu, unstructured show for passers by, family and friends, who stand behind a safety rail.

Like so many sporting activities, indoor and outdoors, skateboarding here has been put on hold, so after searching through past pictures here is a retrospective selection to give a feeling of one of my favourite parts of London. A feeling that I hope will soon be possible to experience again.

Defying gravity against a background of street art
Concentration and skateboarding skill

According to SkateboardGB, at the moment “Skateboard coaching can continue outside on a one-to-one basis, maintaining social distancing and hygiene protocols.” And the Southbank Centre say that “the Skate Space area is currently fenced off but will re-open once social distance measures are relaxed. […] Hopefully within the next few weeks.”

Balance and control while riding up an invisible hill…

Also usually putting on a real show are the many living statues, whose ability to keep absolutely still never ceases to amaze me, often under a certain amount of touching, even prodding. Though you can see them in other touristy parts of London, the area close to the London Eye along the Southbank has been the most popular place to perform. But since the beginning of the first lockdown in March 2020, and all the anti-covid restrictions, this has not been possible.

Motionless Silver Statue
Golden statue giving me a smile on his break
White mophead statue

The Plimsoll white statue with his thick, Medusa like strands of hair would change position every so often, otherwise remaining impossibly still. There was something about his thoughtful expression that, after dropping the necessary coin at his feet, I wanted to photograph. The following day I returned to the South Bank with a picture for him in an envelope which I laid at his feet, explaining what it was. Though he gave a slight smile, he held his position. However, the time to leave his post was approaching and still in the area, I saw him retrieve the photograph, taking it carefully from the envelope, and could see the pleasure it gave him. When I approached, he told me that he didn’t have any pictures of himself working in London and would send it to his parents, if I remember rightly, in Poland.

Pink statue in her peaceful pose by the Thames, oblivious of the crowds
The most impressively inscrutable of all the living statues I’ve seen takes a sudden break and calls out to a Fire Rescue boat to be saved

All this takes place against an ever-evolving background of street art on the walls and ceilings of the Undercroft below the Queen Elizabeth Hall, a famous London concert hall venue. Every time I went, there were different images and colours splashed across the walls. How long a particular design remained in place before being painted over, I don’t know. Rules, or a kind of etiquette would seem to contradict the spontaneity and vibrancy of the art but I imagine there is some sort of code or understanding. But for the moment, the space is in limbo, waiting, as are so many, for it to be safe to relax social distancing.

Artist at work
A silhouette passing the ever-changing art work
A leap against a striking background
Getting up speed for an acrobatic leap in front of a recently painted wall
Bikers gather against a vivid background of street art
Art reflected in the Undercroft as a skateboarder prepares to take off

Further Information
SkateboardGB On March 22, SkateboardGB will publish the latest information on the route out of lockdown.
Southbank Centre
Southbank Undercroft: Cultural and Heritage Assessment Report, September 2014

From Bridge to Bridge… 2

Views of the Thames and its bridges in central London

Continuing my last post, and looking upstream in the early evening from Westminster Bridge, you can see Lambeth Bridge, and both bridges are to be illuminated this spring as part of the Illuminated River art project. These two, along with those already in the scheme, will be lit up at sunset, later reverting to their quiet darkness at 2.00 am, leaving the river with a few glittering reflections of lights from riverside lamps and surrounding buildings. The lighting for Westminster and Lambeth Bridges will subtly reflect their existing colours, said to have been changed back in 1970 by the Historic Buildings Committee of the then GLC (Greater London Council), to green for Westminster Bridge, echoing the green benches in the House of Commons and a red motif, now mostly faded pink, for Lambeth Bridge, echoing the red benches in the House of Lords.

Looking back downstream from Lambeth Bridge to Westminster Bridge, built in 1862, and the London Eye
Seen from Lambeth Bridge, Bennett’s tug FELIX pushing a barge of Tideway tunnel segments upstream
Thames Cruises’ M.V.s RIVER PRINCESS, VISCOUNTESS and ROYAL PRINCESS moored close to Lambeth Bridge, ready to party as soon as lockdown allows
Thamescraft tug DEVOUT pushing her barge of Tideway tunnel segments upstream having passed under Lambeth Bridge
Looking back from Vauxhall Bridge at Lambeth Bridge, built in 1932, and a busy river

While setting out this piece I discovered some interesting notes in J. H. Herring’s book: Thames Bridges from London to Hampton Court, published in 1884, some of which I will share with you. For example, he says that the name Lambeth “is derived from lam: dirt, and hyd or hythe: a haven”. However, several other sources say that the name came from the old English word ‘lambehyde’, or ‘lambehitha’ recorded in 1062, meaning literally a ‘landing place for lambs’, or as Stephen Skinner puts it in his Etymologicon Linguæ Anglicanæ, 1671, ‘Portus Agnorum’. The Lambeth Village History site gives credence to both, and suggests that the name might refer to the geological marine profile of the area: loam or mud in the harbour and London clay.

Looking downstream at Vauxhall Bridge, built in 1906

Herring writes that “Vauxhall, or properly Fulke’s Hall, so called from Fulke de Breauté, the celebrated mercenary follower of King John, who appears to have built a hall or a mansion house in the manor of South Lambeth.” And if you search the Online Etymology Dictionary you will find it more or less in agreement.

Grosvenor Railway Bridge, built in 1859, seen from Chelsea Bridge. In the background work on the old Battersea Power Station in April 2018
Looking beneath Chelsea Bridge, built in 1937, to Grosvenor Railway Bridge

The first Chelsea Bridge was built in 1858. Known then as Victoria Bridge, and later as Old Chelsea Bridge, it is described by Herring “as the only direct approach from Belgravia to Battersea Park, crossing the Thames at the vastly improved borough of Chelsea…”

The much loved, pretty Albert Bridge

Albert Bridge, though commissioned in 1864, suffered a number of delays due to technical problems and didn’t open until 1873. Named after the Prince Consort to make up a pair with Victoria Bridge, it’s one of London’s favourite bridges. According to Herring: “The light perforated Gothic towers supporting the chains, though elegant, fail to give an idea of stability […] however, the main towers are substantial enough to somewhat relieve the idea of general want of strength.” The story that soldiers marching from the nearby barracks were ordered to break step to prevent setting up potentially damaging vibrations when crossing the bridge, is widely known. And though over the years, Albert Bridge has undergone strengthening and a number of moderations, notices from the Royal Brough of Kensington and Chelsea still remain fixed on the old toll booths at either end of the bridge: “All troops must break step when marching over this bridge.”

Battersea Bridge, built in 1890, and a glimpse of the Chelsea Houseboats through the left hand arch

Battersea Bridge is five miles upstream from London Bridge. In Herring’s day it was a “rude wooden superstructure erected in the year 1771”, and he clearly wasn’t a fan, coupling it with Putney Bridge, also made of wood, saying that they “are perhaps the most inconvenient and dangerous obstructions now remaining on the River Thames.” The present Battersea Bridge was opened in 1890, four years after Putney Bridge.

Battersea Rail Bridge, built in 1863, with Battersea Bridge just visible beyond
Wandsworth Bridge, built in 1938
Fulham Railway Bridge, built in 1889, seen from Putney Bridge
Putney Bridge, built in 1886, seen from Putney Embankment

The old, wooden Putney Bridge, built in 1729, was only the second London Thames traffic crossing to be opened, challenging the long held monopoly of London Bridge, and ruffling a few feathers of the existing ferry operators, who had to be compensated. Herring, who earlier denigrates the structure along with Battersea Bridge adds: “It is positively dangerous to the inexperienced aquatic {…] It makes a picturesque but at the same time an inconvenient obstruction to the noble waterway.”

There are more bridges spanning the tidal Thames further upstream, enough for a third section but lacking sufficient photographs, I will wait until it’s possible to go as far as the limits of the tidal Thames at Teddington Lock. Hopefully not before too long.

Sources and further Information
Herring, J.H.: Thames Bridges from London to Hampton Court, London. 1884.
Online Etymology Dictionary: A useful site for further research into place names.
Article on the Bridges of London in The Engineering Timeline
Article in The Londonist ‘How London’s Thames Bridges got their names’.
A London Inheritance: An excellent London site if you would like more detailed information on Albert Bridge and others.
List of Bridges in London: Wikipedia.

From Bridge to Bridge… 1

Views of the Thames and its bridges in central London

One of my favourite descriptions of the Thames bridges comes from the Gentle Author on Spitalfields Life, where he writes of “a line of bridges, holding the north and south banks of London together tightly like laces on a boot.” It’s an image that’s particularly effective when you look at aerial pictures of the Thames and see how the bridges indeed appear to be fastening the banks together.

View downstream from Tower Bridge with the elegant fleet of Thames Luxury Charters in pride of place
GPS tug CAMBRIA towing an empty barge upstream as she heads towards Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge is an ideal vantage point for looking downstream, following the river’s slow curve to the east, leading to the Thames Barrier and eventually to the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge and the Estuary beyond. But turning upstream towards London Bridge and the Tower of London is where my journey begins. A journey looking at London’s famous Thames bridges, told with random snippets of information and images of day and night, summer and winter, taken over the last few years.

View from Tower Bridge looking upstream with HMS BELFAST and London Bridge beyond

There is a rich history linked to this particular stretch of the river: maritime, military, and social, eloquently expressed by such writers as Peter Stone in his History of the Port of London and by many historians including Simon Jenkins in A Short History of London. There is also a small army of mudlarkers, strictly licensed by the Port of London Authority, or as writes Fiona Haughey, ‘inter-tidal archeologists’, who have contributed much to our knowledge of the past. Exploring the foreshore when the tides allow, they have discovered, and continue to discover, a whole variety of artefacts, many of which have found their way there thrown from the bridges, boats and the river banks, including coins, household objects, religious offerings, tools, toys and weapons. The Museum of London has a large collection of finds from what is described as “London’s longest archaeological site”.

The Tower of London taken from Tower Bridge at night-time
CITY ALPHA approaching Tower Bridge as super yacht AVANTI and Port of London Authority vessel LAMBETH head upstream

The crowding in the above image seems a little strange now after nearly a year of social distancing but hopefully that strangeness will soon be a thing of the past. The tree-lined building in the background is The Custom House, now the subject of “a planning application for an unsympathetic conversion to a luxury hotel that will be destructive to the fabric of the grade I listed building.” Please read here for further information.

Looking back from London Bridge towards Tower Bridge

Until the first covid lockdown the river along the Pool of London looked busy on my visits, but not as busy as it was in its 1950’s, early 1960’s heyday, before containerisation in the 1970s when Tilbury became London’s leading container port. But there was always some river traffic: sightseeing and party boats; tugs towing barges of material to construction sites, or removing London’s waste, and a variety of ships on official or publicity trips to the city.

Looking upstream from London Bridge towards Cannon Street Railway Bridge and a City Cruises’ sightseeing vessel
Southwark Bridge and the Shard in the falling light seen from below the Millennium Footbridge
The Millennium Footbridge and Southwark Bridge photographed from below the Blackfriars Railway Bridge
Blackfriars Railway Bridge and station straddling the river. The red pillars are remnants of the 1864 bridge, which in 1985 were deemed too weak to support modern trains
Blackfriars Bridge and the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral beyond
Buses parked on Waterloo Bridge and below, the Tower RNLI Station with a crew on permanent standby throughout every day of the year

Surprisingly, Waterloo Bridge was actually built during the Second World War under the constant threat of bombing raids. Built mainly by women it’s known as the Ladies’ Bridge. There was no official record of the part they played but the story was kept alive since the 1950s by the guides on sightseeing boats. For more background, there’s an interesting article and short film on the Londonist site.

A fusion of bridges and buildings. Westminster Bridge and a glimpse of Lambeth Bridge seen from the south Jubilee Bridge
Seen from Westminster Bridge, Bateaux London vessel, and the Jubilee footbridges, either side of Hungerford Railway Bridge

Like Tower Bridge, Westminster Bridge is a good place to watch river traffic when life gets back to normal. Westminster Pier, next to the bridge on the north bank is the departure point for many of the popular sightseeing trips as well as the regular Uber Thames Clippers’ service. It’s also a good vantage point for watching some of the festivals and events that normally take place along the river throughout the year including the Doggett’s Coat and Badge; events organised by the Thames Festival Trust; and The Mayor’s Thames Festival.

Further Information
At the time of writing, visits are either cancelled or subject to covid restrictions but you can still explore the following sites to plan for better days, hopefully coming soon:
Tower Bridge
Thames Luxury Charters
H.M.S. Belfast
Thames sightseeing trips: City Cruises; Thames River Services; with more info on Visit London

Articles on London Bridges
Spitalfields Life: The Bridges of Old London
A London Inheritance: A Winter Walk from Tower Bridge to Westminster.
How London’s Thames Bridges got their names The Londonist
For sightseeing search Bridges in London

You can also explore the Illuminated River public art commission to illuminate the central London Thames Bridges. The lighting on London, Cannon Street Railway, Southwark, and Millennium Bridges has already been completed. The next stage will shortly see Blackfriars, Waterloo, Westminster, the Golden Jubilee Footbridges, and Lambeth Bridge in operation too.

Vantage Points

Views captured from high points along the central London Thames

Twitter friends have kindly joined with me to share their views from some of the top vantage points along the river.

Eel Pie Island, some of it’s boats at their moorings, and a kayaker in this winter’s snow. © Ruth Wadey

Our journey begins with Ruth Wadey looking out across the river at Eel Pie Island through a pretty, Christmas card snow shower. If you live in the London area, or further afield, you might quite often have noticed the photo credit ‘ruthiebabes’, or an EP, ‘Editor’s Pick’, attached to a BBC Weather Watchers’ image. This is Ruth Wadey. Not only is she a talented photographer, she is also an artist, and you can see her work at her gallery Ruth Wadey, and you can follow her on Twitter @ruths_gallery and Instagram.

View from a Lots Road development with Battersea and Albert Bridges. © Wal Daly-Smith

Wal Daly-Smith’s downstream river shot, from a new development at Lots Road next to Chelsea Wharf, takes in Battersea and Albert Bridges as well as the nearby Chelsea Houseboats. And on the skyline are buildings that you might just make out, including the Shard. You can follow him on Twitter @lens_wal

Looking west from the London Eye, February 2019, from where you can see Lambeth and Vauxhall Bridges. © Patricia Stoughton

A picture, taken on a spur of the moment ‘flight’ in the London Eye, looking over a misty river, as miles of London gradually came into view during my journey to the top. I noticed the Eye managed some turns in between lockdowns this summer, presumably for maintenance, and hopefully it will be turning again before long.

View from Tate Modern, the Millennium Bridge and over the river to St. Paul’s Cathedral. © Jon Carruthers

Having moved to Rotherhithe during the first lockdown, Jon Carruthers enjoys exploring and photographing the river whenever he can. He has covered most of the tidal Thames from Teddington to the Hoo Peninsula in Kent. “Its ever-changing nature and its history are what I love about it.” And that feeling clearly shows in his striking images. You can follow him on Twitter @carruthers_jon

View of Tower Bridge from The Shard, April 2013. © Patricia Stoughton

Tower Bridge seen from high up near the top of The Shard looks like the focal point of an elaborate model, and the Tower of London, HMS Belfast, and the Southern and Southeastern railway lines could be part of the same illusion. The Shard is visible from a great distance round the capital, so on a clear day you can see landmarks from there up to forty miles away, including the Thames Estuary and the Surrey Hills…

View, June 2019, from the ‘Walkie Talkie’, of London Bridge, the Cannon Street Railway Bridge and the Monument in the foreground. © Patricia Stoughton

View from the Sky Garden in the ‘Walkie Talkie’ building, 20 Fenchurch Street, of a miniature river far below where a Police launch appears to be chasing , or racing, a RIB.

View from one of the oldest and most famous vantage points along the Thames. © Spike Abbott

Though not on a high vantage point The Tower of London was for centuries in the most strategic defensive position along the Thames, with its protective moat and commanding views of the river in both directions. The picture is by Spike Abbott, Yeoman Warder at The Tower, a Tower Ward Beadle, and Freeman of the City of London. You can follow him on Twitter @spike_abbott

Looking east from Butler’s Wharf. ©Mazimo

Mazimo, now back in the US, had a fantastic view of the Thames from his apartment. He recorded tugs and nautical manoeuvres on the river, which he sometimes filmed and put to music. This photograph is a lovely view from his balcony towards the Isle of Dogs. You can follow him on Twitter @2000MX5

Looking out from the viewing platform of the O2. © Ian Young

Ian Young took his picture looking across the Thames from the O2 viewing platform. On the right you can see the cable cars, from which in times other than lockdown, you can discover different perspectives of the river. Ian is interested in nature, regularly sharing photos on Twitter, particularly of birds, and he is my go-to person when I need to identify any birds in my photographs. He is the author of a blog on how birdwatching can help with anxiety – see here. You can follow him on Twitter @ianyoung33

Looking across the river towards the O2. © Jon Carruthers

A second picture by Jon Carruthers, looking towards the O2 from where Ian Young took his picture. You can see the cable cars, in limbo for now, here on the left. You can follow him on Twitter @carruthers_jon

View to the west from the Isle of Dogs © Michelle Buchan

From the Isle of Dogs, Michelle Buchan has wonderful views of London’s cityscape in the west and its many colourful guises between sunrise and sunset. Closer to home she keeps an eye on the Thames below. Discover more about her work here and you can follow her on Twitter @M_Buchan

Snowing across the Thames Barrier © Graeme courtesy of colleague @AlanBarrierEA

Here is a vantage point across the Thames from one of its most striking landmarks, where the skill and expertise of those forecasting and operating the Barrier keep London safe from flooding. You can follow Flood Forecaster Alan for news of the Barrier and closures on Twitter @AlanBarrierEA

If you would like images from even higher up than these vantage points you couldn’t do better than follow aerial photographer Jason Hawkes and see his pictures of London and the Thames in his spectacular photo story. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonhawkesphot

With thanks to:
Nigel Stoughton for the cover image and to Twitter friends for giving me permission to post their pictures:
Ruth Wadey: @ruths_gallery
Wal Daly-Smith: @lens_wal
Jon Carruthers: @carruthers_jon
Yeoman Warder Spike Abbot: @spike_abbott
Mazimo: @2000MX5
Ian Young: @ianyoung33
Michelle Buchan: @M_Buchan
Graeme courtesy of @AlanBarrierEA