Continuing our journey along the Thames from Chelsea to the Nore …

…with artist T R Way in 1907.

From Somerset House to London Docks

Just before the Covid-19 virus became a real concern to the wider public, I had the chance to meet Waterman and Lighterman, Eric Carpenter in St. Katharine Docks. His knowledge and understanding of the river and its tributaries after fifty years is phenomenal and I will eventually publish an account of our meeting when this crisis is over. However, having mentioned his visits to the Upper Pool, I asked him about the second picture in this series.

London Bridge and a distant view of Southwark Cathedral
The Upper Pool drawn from London Bridge

Eric Carpenter explains that T R Way “has drawn the scene from the south side of London Bridge, looking downstream” towards Tower Bridge, and you can see theTower of London on the left, impressive as ever, with warehouses beyond. He can tell from the position of the barges and rowing boats being “tailed up” that the tide is coming in and “that it’s approximately two hours before high water.” He adds ” The wharf in the foreground is Fenning’s wharf, then St. Olaf’s, followed by Chambers wharf.” Further down you can see the Battlebridge roads buoy, where the first boat he worked on, the tug SIR JOHN used to moor. It was good to discover that despite two World Wars and all the destruction along that part of the Thames, some of the features of the riverside are still recognisable today.

The view from Cherry Gardens Pier
Barge builders and the Entrance to London Docks

Eric was interested to see this image, suggesting that it was a view, perhaps with a little artistic licence, from Wapping looking downstream towards Limehouse, adding that “the church tower in the distance looks similar to St. Anne’s church Limehouse.” As T R Way might possibly have sketched this from a nearby pub, the important subject of riverside pubs took over our conversation and we agreed that when the crisis has abated, The Prospect of Whitby, which is from where Way might have sketched, would be “well worth a visit, as would a number of other riverside pubs too.” I’ll drink to that… Until then, keep well everyone and stay safe.