Back Through The Barrier


Today I scanned the final batch of colour negatives from Norman’s 70th birthday boat trip on 6th April 2002.

Some of these are from the start of the journey soon after we left Westminster Pier and people settled down to eat.

The Post Office Tower and St Paul’s Cathedral are each visible beyond Tower Bridge.

Norman mingled with his guests on the upper deck.

Yesterday I featured our arrival at the Thames Barrier, a short distance beyond which was the turning point from which we returned to the pier.

Passing back through the flood barrier gave us unique views of three of the capital’s iconic structures. Even for me it is surprising to establish that it is the barrier that at 35 years old is the most senior. The first buildings in Canary Wharf were completed in 1991, and the Millennium Dome just about managed to open on the last day of 1999. The website opens its lengthy page on the Dome with:

‘The Millennium Dome was the centrepiece of British celebrations for the dawning of the year 2000.

Built on the site of the Meridian Line in north Greenwich – symbolising time – the Dome was, at the time of construction, the biggest dome in the world, occupying 300 acres of a formerly contaminated derelict gasworks. The former gasworks had been derelict for more than two decades and was the largest undeveloped site on the River Thames.

The Dome originally contained a theme park-cum-scientific exhibition entitled the ‘Millennium Experience’. This was a series of themed ‘zones’ representing concepts such as ‘money’ or ‘the body’, supported by live theatrical events throughout the day. The Millennium Experience closed on December 31 2000, and the Dome has since been sold to be converted into a 26,000 capacity entertainment and sports arena.’

There is much more about the controversy and financial mismanagement of what was, at the time, termed a ‘White Elephant’ on the highlighted website.

This afternoon Becky and Ian joined us for their Christmas visit which began with a meal at Lal Quilla. Service was as friendly and efficient as ever, and the food excellent. My choice of main course was king prawn Ceylon. Kingfisher and Diet Coke were the drinks consumed.



  1. Interesting about the Thames River waterfront development. Our south river front–once lovely natural growth/a few scattered warehouses/offices– is disappearing to skyscrapers and fancy condos and medical complexes. The more northern bends have long been developed but historical buildings have been renovated nicely with the flavor intact. But our city is growing very very fast so things are changing very fast again. Can’t stop it, I guess.

    What good food to enjoy! Have fun with your family and friends, Derrick! Merry Christmas!

  2. The iconic structures of the Canary Wharf are already a classic, straddling as they are across millennia. Come to think of it, structures like the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, the Taj Mahal etc., are all white elephants. Maybe we have grown wiser with the times, or maybe we have grown pretentious. Whatever it is, it doesn’t cast a shadow on your excellent photography.

  3. Thanks derrick, for the fascinating story of the Millennium Dome, and my favourite music DVD was recorded there, Leonard Cohen, Live In London, July 17th 2008…

  4. I have so enjoyed this series. It minds me to think that maybe I might replicate the notion when my significant birthday looms in less than three years. So much of my life has been lived by the Old Father that it would seem very appropriate. Thank you so much for sowing the seeds with your wonderful pictures and commentary. PS: Big shout out for the barrier … that film yesterday had me captivated

  5. Great series.
    Have a Merry Christmas & Happy Holiday Season. All the best to you & those you hold close to your heart. 🙂

      1. A little bit more. During the Blitz in one raid 11 gasometers were destroyed. you can imagine the hell that was. My father was working there during the raid, and apparently he saw a man down in a burning building that housed highly explosive stuff, he ran into the building and carried the man out.
        As you can imagine, my father was built as you’d expect a blacksmith to be built.
        Being a home guard his CO recommended him for the MM
        My dad being the good socialist that he was told them where they could shove it.
        True story, told me by his CO after the war, when we were alone with my mother and brother, my sister was just a couple of years old and wouldn’t remember

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